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Rutland MP looks back on the vaccination effort in 2021 and looks ahead to a brighter new year

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Alicia Kearns, MP for Rutland (Con), shares her new year message.

We brought in last year with the relief that a vaccine had been found, but with an almost entirely unvaccinated population, and much uncertainty still around us.

The relief a year on is confirmation the Omicron variant is far less of a threat than was modelled. But I know many feel uncertainty still, and I am doing everything I can to reduce that uncertainty, interrogate the data available, and ensure everything possible is done to keep our communities safe, and our freedoms intact.

When one thinks of 2021, it is of the vaccination effort. Rutland consistently had the highest levels of take-up of the vaccine nationwide, with almost a quarter of a million vaccine does now delivered in Rutland and Melton – thank you. Indeed, on Christmas Eve over two thirds of us had already received our booster jabs.

Looking back at the highs of the last year, I’m delighted that I won a place for Oakham and surrounding areas in the very first tranche of the country to receive gigabit broadband. We’re also gaining £550,000 across Rutland and Melton for new CCTV and lighting in our parks and high streets and our schools in Langham, Empingham and Cottesmore are all receiving funding to improve their school buildings. The CCG, council and I have also been working to improve GP services, especially in Oakham, and whilst we’ve seen improvements, there is more to be done.

But what I’m most proud of is the many thousands of Rutland residents who my team and I have helped overcome injustices: from housing to social care, tackling criminality and much more. That’s been the most heart-warming of all.

I’m also delighted my campaign to end women being forced to give birth alone was successful, and my law to ban LGBTQ+ conversion therapy will hopefully be law by the summer!

Although it was an enormously difficult few weeks, I’m deeply proud of the 400+ Afghans I helped evacuate from Afghanistan.

Closer to home, it’s been wonderful having our daughter join our family.

Looking at my priorities for 2022, I’ll be fighting for our fair share of Government funding. It’s not easy, but I’m working to secure what we need, and making sure our services are as good as we deserve.

I also want to improve rural policing, from the proper boots, drones and 4x4 vehicles our officers need, to delivering new anti-hare coursing and anti-livestock worrying bills for our farmers. I’m also reviewing Government support for veterans and looking at how we solve our leisure services issues. As chairman of the A1 MPs working group, I’ll keep leading calls to make the A1 motorway standard and I’ll continue lobbying ministers for meaningful support for our tourism industry - watch this space.

We live in the most beautiful part of England, and we must protect that which is so special, so I’ll continue opposing the Mallard Pass Solar Plant. We’re all for green energy, but this is wholly inappropriate, and would be destructive to our environment and way of life.

I’m so proud of how we came together in 2021. There’s no one this year hasn’t been hard for, but with heartfelt thanks to all those involved in the vaccines roll out: our clinicians, volunteers and all those behind the scenes.

In 2022, I hope we stand by the success of the vaccine programme and protect both our health and our freedoms.

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