Over the many months of election campaigning, I spent a lot of time knocking on doors, addressing public meetings and at hustings, and three issues outweighed almost all others: roads, the NHS and Europe.
From this, I drew the following conclusions: First, while we have unique local challenges on all those issues and on others, Boston and Skegness is also facing the same challenges that we see across the country. Now, in government, the Conservative Party is already starting to tackle them in a way we were unable to do in coalition. Secondly, and importantly, it’s obvious that ours is not a single issue constituency.
Lincolnshire’s roads are a unique challenge, and I’ve raised our local problems both with the Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin and with Martin Hill, the leader of Lincolnshire county council. The schemes we need are not ripe for a major cash injection – yet – because we need to be clear that any plans we invest in really do resolve the problems for the long term.
But with the NHS, our local challenges are those that Jeremy Hunt is seeking to solve nationally: we need to recruit more GPs to our area so that appointments don’t take so long to get, and we need them to work alongside new pharmacists and community nurses. Announcements – and funding – made last week are tailor-made for our challenges. At the Pilgrim, new A&E staff and cubicles are on their way.
Europe, meanwhile, is a bigger challenge: I am convinced it is possible that Britain can stay in the EU. But only if we are able to renegotiate a deal that puts trade, rather than Brussels’ bureaucracy and supremacy, at its heart. Time will tell.