Here is the latest opinion piece from Shipley MP Philip Davies

MOST of us will be glad to see the back of 2021 - it has been a frustrating year to say the least.

The year kicked off with the January lockdown, which didn’t do much to boost the suffering economy – nor to improve the mood of the nation or people’s mental health, and was hugely damaging to the education and development of children. Finding out later in the year that some of those who had imposed draconian laws on us had been flouting them didn’t help.

This time last year we were told that we were 15 million vaccinations away from having our freedoms fully restored. We were assured that once the most vulnerable had been vaccinated there would be no need for restrictions. More than 130 million doses of the vaccine have been delivered to date, and yet we still have restrictions in place - with more still threatened. At least we are not in Wales or Scotland whose governments appear to have lost the plot.

It makes me wonder what people think is the point of the vaccination programme if we are not going to start living our lives normally again. I hope 2022 is the year that we actually trust the vaccines, learn to live with covid - which in all likelihood will be with us forever - and resolve never to resort to damaging lockdowns ever again.

Away from Covid, I have been delighted to secure some successes in Parliament. One of those triumphs has been to persuade the government to toughen up sentences for people who assault front line workers. As someone who worked for ASDA before becoming an MP, I have been increasingly concerned about the rise of assaults on shop workers since the Covid outbreak - the people who went out every day to ensure we continued to have food on the shelves. The government have agreed to make an assault on any frontline worker a statutory aggravating factor which will mean tougher sentences for those who carry out these attacks.

Elsewhere I have repeatedly called for the maximum age of magistrates to be raised. In 2016 the government raised the age for jurors from 70 to 75, with the Justice Minister explaining that the courts would be “able to benefit from the wisdom and experience that older people can offer.”

At the time I made the point that exactly the same applies to magistrates and judges, and therefore their age restriction should be increased to 75 too. I am pleased that common sense has now prevailed and that the government are making these changes in the Public Services Pension and Judicial Offices Bill.

Locally I have been delighted to see the progress of the £25m Shipley Town Fund given by the government, and want to thank the local people on the Board who are volunteering their time to ensure the money is spent to best effect.

In the coming year, I look forward to further progress being made with that, and I will also be working to persuade Bradford Council to submit a levelling up fund bid to the government for Bingley so we can see improvements in the town there too - including seeking to secure a swimming pool there.

I will also be continuing to campaign for money to be spent on flood defences for the parts of my constituency which continue to face that awful prospect, and continue to work with my excellent colleague and constituency neighbour Robbie Moore in our campaign to free our area from the shackles of Bradford Council. Now that Bradford Council has finally completed the feasibility study into the Shipley Eastern Bypass - albeit two years late - I will also be working hard to progress that key piece of infrastructure despite the Council doing all it can to frustrate it.

Nationally the biggest issue for the government to tackle will be the cost of living in general and energy prices in particular. I suspect 2022 may also see the start of a backlash against the rush to net zero which is pushing energy prices even higher. We have already seen Scottish taxpayers are to pay £800,000 to make Nicola Sturgeon’s official residence net zero. Surely the colossal cost for just one residence will make people realise the huge costs they will be expected to foot. I hope 2022 will be the year we start to see a clamour for the cheapest energy rather than just the greenest energy.

It is also essential that the government gets to grip with the illegal immigrants coming over by dinghies from France.

I would like to wish all of my constituents and T&A readers a very happy, healthy and successful 2022. I certainly hope we can look forward to it being far better than 2021.