Reflecting on what I hoped that we would achieve for Sutton Coldfield in 2014, I am pleased and heartened by the progress we have made over the last year on a number of campaigns and issues that hugely impact our Town, and the people that live in it.
This year marks the first Christmas that we will celebrate in the newly reinstated Royal Town of Sutton Coldfield - something that we achieved after a long and committed campaign which saw an incredible response and effort from Suttonians to trawl through their family archives for evidence of our royal status. Its reaffirmation was, in some ways, merely a confirmation of something that those who live and work in Sutton have known forever, but is important as recognition of the place that Sutton Coldfield holds in British history, and its unique nature.
On that note, this year had also seen a sustained effort to protect our Green Belt - an important part of what makes this town what it is - from Birmingham City Council\'s plans to build on it. The decision is now out of our hands, but I could not have asked for a better response from my constituents to the threat, with huge numbers attending protest walks, registering their opposition in writing, and generally ensuring that I could point to the overwhelming level of feeling against the proposals on every meeting I attended. Those who are making the decision were left in no doubt of the feelings of Suttonians towards these plans - now we must all hope that that is recognised in the final decision.
My other highlight of this year was the Jobs and Careers Fair that we put on in the Town Hall. Government policies on the economy and unemployment are beginning to show tangible results, with a reduction in youth unemployment in Sutton of over a half during this Government. The Jobs Fair was an excellent opportunity for me to meet and talk to job seekers about the pressures facing them, and for them to connect with people and businesses who might be able to offer them opportunities going forward.
I would also like to take this opportunity to express gratitude to all those who serve in the Armed Forces, particularly those who are unable to be with their loved ones over the festive season, and to our emergency services - who I visited today - who continue to work at a time when most of us are enjoying ourselves with our family and friends.
My very best wishes to you for a Happy Christmas and a peaceful New Year.