Like most people with young families Christmas is undoubtedly one of my favourite times of the year, but it also one of the busiest, a sentiment I am sure many parents will recognise. Over the past few weeks my staff and I have tried to get through all the correspondence I receive from constituents before we finish for the holidays, as well as continuing to raise a number of important issues in The House of Commons before it rose for Christmas recess yesterday. So as we look forward to taking a break and spending some quality time with our loved ones, I wanted to reflect on the past year, one that has been particularly eventful.
In March, I was delighted to become a father again, with the birth of my fourth child Seth, further expanding the size of the Reynolds’ clan. At the same time as Seth being born I was also busy standing for re-election and, although the General Election in May obviously produced a very disappointing result for the Labour Party, I was humbled to be re-elected for a second term with a substantially increased majority as the Member of Parliament for Stalybridge and Hyde, which also includes Mossley, Londgendale and Dukinfield. Being a Dad and an MP can be challenging at times, something I wrote about last month (http://huff.to/1NtbO6p). But it is at this point I want to pay tribute to my beautiful wife Claire, who is an amazing mother and a wonderful and loving wife. I couldn’t do it without you - thank you Claire.
After Labour’s election defeat, the party had a leadership election and duly elected Jeremy Corbyn as our party leader with a huge mandate from party members. Although I did not vote for Jeremy, I felt it was right to accept his invitation to join the party’s front bench team in Parliament as Shadow Rail Minister, an area I have already campaigned consistently on in the constituency over the last couple of years. You can read more about why I accepted to serve under Jeremy in my Huffington Post article here: http://huff.to/1QwTr3X.
Having good transport links is so important to me and the people of my constituency, which is why I will continue to press the Government to make sure the Mottram by-pass will be delivered as well as improved rail services across the whole of our area.
There has also been the need to make some very difficult decisions over the past year, none more difficult than the vote on military action in Syria. Many hundreds of constituents contacted me about this important issue and after considering all of the options, I decided to vote against military action. You can read the reasoning behind this decision here: http://bit.ly/1PaszUf
There have also been some delightful events that I have attended in the constituency during 2015. A highlight at Christmas is attending the Micklehurst Estate Residents Association (MERA) Christmas dinner and calling the bingo numbers. If I ever leave Parliament, I think I may have found my new calling! Also this year I had the pleasure of visiting Stalybridge Archery Club to celebrate their success in securing funds to extend their facilities. I did have a go at shooting some arrows and after a few rounds I managed to hit the gold, but I don’t think being an archer in the Olympics will be on the cards anytime soon.
Other highlights include welcoming representatives from Silver Springs Academy to the Palace of Westminster where they were receiving a special commendation award, participating in the charity ‘Welllython’ at Gorse Hall Primary school, the West Hill Awards evening and welcoming community champions Irene Raddings and Marie Milne, both of Mossley, to London and the Houses of Parliament after I nominated them to attend the Queen’s garden party at Buckingham Palace. The work they do and the work that many of you do from across the constituency is wonderful in helping to keep our community bonds in place.
Whilst for most people this is a happy time of year, we should also think of those less fortunate than ourselves. If you’re struggling financially, suffering from loneliness, or have recently lost a loved one, then this can be a difficult time of year. Extending a helping hand to a friend or neighbour in a moment of need can sometimes be the best gift we can give and I have no doubt that many people will be doing exactly that over the next couple of weeks.
As we approach 2016 I look forward to continuing to representing you and on that note, I’d just like to wish everybody a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year on behalf of me, my family and my team.