2016 has been a year which will be talked about for a long time to come.
The Trump win in the US has shaken the world and it remains to be seen exactly what kind of a president he will be. And here in the UK, the most important event of the year was undoubtedly the decision of the British people, and a majority here in Heywood and Middleton, to leave the European Union.
As it does every year, 2016 featured many fantastic local highlights. We are lucky to have so many community events such as the Darnhill Festival, numerous events at Hopwood Park organised by the Friends of Hopwood Park, the Heywood Charities Fete, fantastic MidFest, the Remembrance Sunday services, the Christmas lights switch-on shows in Heywood and Middleton, the lovely Christmas church services throughout Heywood and Middleton, and countless others besides.
It is my great honour as MP to be able to visit these and other events and to get to know the dedicated and talented people who make them happen, and thanks to their time and energy we can all look forward to more of the same next year.
Another highlight has been the recent news that following a long campaign the government have finally begun a public consultation on sentences for those who cause death by dangerous driving. The Justice for Joseph campaign, led by Joseph Brown Lartey's parents Ian and Dawn and supported by Michelle Livesey from Key 103, has fought tirelessly for a change in the law, alongside other campaigners including the charity Brake. The consultation is now open and you can take part at https://consult.justice.gov.uk/digital-communications/driving-offences-causing-death-or-serious-injury/
Whichever way you voted in the EU referendum and whichever political party you support (if you support one at all), our country perhaps feels more divided than it has for a very long time. That’s why the community events I mentioned are so important – they remind us that we have far more in common than that which divides us.
Those words have of course been made famous this year as they featured in a speech by Jo Cox, the MP who was so needlessly taken from us in June. Let us remember her words in 2017.
I would like to wish everyone a very merry Christmas and good health and happiness for the year ahead.