December’s view from Westminster.

Andrew Jones writes a monthly column for the Advertiser series of newspapers. Below is the December article.

In December I use my newspaper column to look back at the previous year and forward to the next.  It is safe to say that 2022 has been a tough year for most. 

We have seen the hangover from COVID as world economies have re-opened.  This has been exacerbated by the war in Ukraine which in turn has driven inflation, energy costs, interest rates and recession across most major economies. 

We have seen political uncertainty as one Prime Minister gave way to another and then, more rapidly than ever before, another. 

The world saw the sad passing of Queen Elizabeth II and joined our nation in mourning. 

To say it has been eventful is an understatement.  

There are some things we already know about 2023.   

In May King Charles will be officially crowned at his coronation – you would have to be nearly 80 years old to remember the last coronation.   

After 49 years Harrogate Borough Council will be abolished on 31 March and a single council covering the whole of North Yorkshire will run our local services.  It is vital that this change is successful as so many things that councils do affect our everyday lives. 

As a former councillor I am used to working with council officers to get the best for our area and this will continue with the new council.   

One feature of last year was the ‘yah-boo’ over the quality of our waterways.  No-one has ever voted to put sewage in our rivers but putting that bit of political nonsense aside there is a serious point.  Our water quality isn’t good enough.  We use Victorian infrastructure in our sewers and we allow pesticides and animal waste from agricultural rainwater run-off into rivers. 

Over summer, I will be working with residents and businesses to submit a case to DEFRA to designate the River Nidd at the Lido in Knaresborough as an area of Bathing Water Quality.  This will mean the Environment Agency has to monitor the water quality and plan to improve it. 

We will be moving towards having a directly-elected mayor for York and North Yorkshire in the same way that Manchester and the Tees Valley have their own mayors.  This is more than a ceremonial role.  This will be a mayor with a budget and powers devolved to them from government. 

While not a ‘done deal’ this political change is more than likely.  We may also see proposals for a Harrogate town council.  It will be interesting to see what it is proposed that this new council would do and how much it will cost us.  I know some favour a referendum before such a council is formed and I can see the logic to this. 

So in looking back over a tumultuous 2022 and forward to 2023 all it remains for me to do is to wish everyone a merry Christmas and a peaceful and happy New Year.