I was delighted to return to Westminster after the Christmas break to prepare for Parliament to begin sitting again and continue organising my diary and events for the upcoming year.
The reshuffle has made it a particularly exciting week in Westminster, as the Prime Minister has refreshed her ministerial team, taking advantage of the huge range of talent in the Conservative Party and better reflecting the country it serves.
I was particularly pleased to see a new generation of gifted Ministers step up to join the Whips’ Office.
And having just had time to catch my breath, I was also thrilled to hear that Superfast North Yorkshire had awarded the contract for Phase 3 of its SNFY project, following a competitive procurement process.
This means that more than 14,000 premises can look forward to better broadband in the coming year.
The majority of these premises will benefit from having fibre optic cables connected directly to them, with speeds of up to 330 megabits per second.
This is an important step forward for improving connectivity in our area and it was great to understand that at the end of Phase 2 89% of homes in the county could receive Superfast broadband, up from 42% in 2010!
I am in regular contact with Superfast about their work and I hope to keep up to date with their progress in 2018.
Indeed, I am already looking forward to the first few months of this year; my diary is already packed with school visits, business openings, surgeries and meetings with the council and other local representatives.
I have been particularly happy to begin organising my Annual School Leaders’ Lunch.
This will be the 7th year I have hosted it and it will be once again sponsored by local business, Principle Healthcare.
It is a great opportunity for schools and pupils in our area to discuss their future and celebrate their achievements and I am glad to be able bring local businesses and school together.
I am also, this month, keen to encourage anyone interested to contribute to the consultation on Castleberg Hospital in Settle – they are holding a number of drop-in sessions across the area and you can contribute online here- www.airedalewharfedalecravenccg.nhs.uk/get-involved/give-us-your-views-consultations.
The consultation runs until February and I am keen for as many people as possible to have their views heard on the matter.
It is so important that people have the opportunity to engage, and in this vein, I will be holding surgeries across the Skipton and Ripon area as usual.
For more details on these, please visit my website at www.juliansmith.org.uk or contact my office on 01756 795898.