Election 2017: meet the candidates - Julian Knight - The Solihull Observer

Election 2017: meet the candidates - Julian Knight

Solihull Editorial 11th May, 2017   0

Next month’s general election will have a huge impact on the future of our community and our country. Only Theresa May and the Conservatives offer the strong, stable government we’ll need to protect the economy and make a success of Brexit.

In my two years as your MP it’s been my privilege to speak up for Solihull on all the important issues, both local and national – and over the next few years a strong local voice will be more important than ever.

The negotiations with Brussels over our leaving the European Union will be one of the most significant diplomatic challenges faced by any British Government since 1945. It will take strength, skill, and lots of determination to secure a good deal from Brussels, one that minimises disruption to our trade whilst allowing us to take back control of our borders, our laws, and our money.

We’re an exporting town with global reach, so Solihull has lots at stake – and if re-elected I promise to tirelessly represent the needs of our employers and exporters to ministers and key decision-makers in Westminster.

As a democrat, I also believe that it’s our duty in Parliament to make sure that the British people’s decision to leave is honoured and carried out. Other parties want to try to reverse the result, or confuse the issue by holding another referendum. This will only weaken our hand in Brussels and make it more likely that we get a bad deal from the negotiations – and that will only create more uncertainty for businesses.

Employers don’t just need a successful Brexit, though – they need the infrastructure too. I know that Solihull’s broadband isn’t up to scratch. Not only is poor service very inconvenient for residents at home, but it places our businesses at a real disadvantage.

One of my very last meetings before Parliament dissolved was with representatives from BT, and if re-elected I’ll get straight back to work to make sure that our town has the high-speed internet we need to succeed in the 21st-century economy.

I’m also very keen to work with Andy Street, the newly-elected Conservative Mayor of the West Midlands. Over the past two years I’ve fought hard to make sure that we got a devolution deal that works for Solihull, bringing powers closer to us from Westminster without weakening our local town hall or seeing our distinct community absorbed into ‘Greater Birmingham’.

Andy will now spend the next four years proving how Conservative policies, and the devolved institutions set up by this Government, can build a stronger, fairer, more prosperous West Midlands – and I can’t wait to work closely with him to make sure the Combined Authority delivers for Solihull.

My top priority will be protecting our green belt. During the election Labour threatened to merge housing allocations across the West Midlands, allowing them to build Birmingham’s housing on our green belt. We need an MP who’ll make sure that our green spaces and independent identity are respected in city hall.

Housing is very important, but the Conservatives have a better and more sustainable solution in redeveloping brownfield sites to turn old eyesores into community assets. Since 2015 I’ve worked hard to get rid of the PowerGen ruin and I’m delighted that it’s finally being developed into a new care village and family homes.

Since 2015 I’ve also taken a lead to make sure that Heart of England NHS Trust delivered the new Urgent Care Centre – and whilst health bosses dragged their feet, I’m pleased that work is finally complete.

I have also met with ministers and addressed special Westminster debates to highlight where local bus services were cutting stops and failing residents, especially the elderly and less-mobile. Whilst those companies haven’t always been as responsive as they should be I’ve made some progress towards getting temporary stops and new timetables installed that better meet the needs of local passengers.

Just as important as campaigning on the issues is that I’ve had the opportunity to meet and help so many wonderful people, whether its the residents who have come to my office for help, the great businesses who won my Best Local Shop competition, or the amazing men and women whose volunteering I’ve recognised with my regular Points of Light award.

It’s been an extraordinary privilege to serve our town in Parliament for the last two years, and I’m so grateful that my local Conservatives have re-selected me to stand again on June 8. Solihull needs a proud local voice in Theresa May’s strong, stable Government, and if you re-elect me I’ll be proud to serve.


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