Christmas Break

Peace and goodwill around the world seem to be in short supply this Christmas. Syria’s civil war continues to exact a terrible toll. China and the USA contemplate escalating a trade war. Russia and Ukraine eyeball each other in the Sea of Asov. Here in Britain the atmosphere is sulphurous. 

I believe our country’s future will be determined by our willingness to cooperate, to compromise and work together for the common good. When we do that we can achieve great things. 

Just look at Cheltenham in 2018. Here collaboration between schools through Cheltenham’s Maths hub helped deliver another great set of exam results. A strong campaign uniting parents, teachers and parliamentarians meant our secondary schools now receive an additional £1.2m annually from Government - with £1.35m more recently secured for high needs education in Gloucestershire, as local schools contend with an explosion in behavioural complexity.

Cooperation between GCHQ experts and local start-ups nurtured in Cheltenham’s Government-funded cyber accelerator has helped build businesses this year worth £75m, creating opportunities for our young people. Meanwhile the town’s wider cyber vision is pushing ahead, with plans now published for major road improvements around GCHQ funded by £22m secured from DfT. 

On homelessness, a town-wide resolve to tackle the issue helped secure £1.2m of Government cash to fund one-on-one link workers for people with complex personal issues. Rough sleeping numbers are now coming down in Cheltenham. 

And then of course there was the vital collaborative work which led to the Armistice commemorations – an inspiring moment of unity and poignancy that rallied our town. 

Let’s make that the spirit in which we end 2018. Whatever our views, let us never forget we are one nation. We have so much more in common than divides us. And let us thank with one voice all those who will be on duty over the festive period. 

Have a wonderful, peaceful break. Maybe see you for that big, community swim in the freezing Lido on Christmas Day. Happy Christmas.