New Year

A number of events stand out for me personally in 2014. I support charities trying to tackle tuberculosis, a disease which still kills 1.5 million people a year across the world.

So I was very proud to work with the South African Health Minister and others this autumn to launch a Global TB Caucus, with a declaration of action which is now being endorsed by parliamentarians worldwide.

Back here in the constituency, planning is an enduring concern. Some unwanted developments have gone through in our villages, and I will be raising this issue again in the Commons over the next few weeks.

But there have been positives, too, with the passing of some of the first neighbourhood plans in the country in Arundel and Kirdford, the dismissal of the Mayfield New Town by the Planning Inspector, the Secretary of State's rejection of speculative developments in Hurstpierpoint, and new planning guidance which addressed many local concerns which I had raised.

The launch of the A27 Action campaign was another highlight and I was delighted when a £350 million investment in the A27, including the Arundel bypass, for which I fought very hard were announced in the Autumn statement.

Another form of infrastructure, good broadband access, is now essential. Following my broadband summit three years ago the County Council launched a plan to extend superfast access to 95 per cent of households in two years' time.

I am now planning a successor 'digital access' summit this year to ensure that our rural areas are fully connected, including the provision of decent mobile data coverage.

A new issue has arisen locally, fracking. Drilling must be carefully regulated and in appropriate locations. I supported the local community in objecting to an application near Wisborough Green, an unsuitable site, and I was pleased when my concerns were reflected in new Government guidance setting a presumption against fracking in National Parks including the South Downs.

At the end of the year I published a constituency report and this can be read on my website.

The House of Commons returns on Monday 5 January and on Tuesday I will be meeting the Rail Minister to discuss local services. 2015 looks set to be an equally busy year, and of course there will be a general and local elections in May. I wish all my constituents a very happy New Year.