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Looking Ahead To The New Year
Friday 22nd January 2016 @ 15:23 by Mark Phillip

Article by MP for the High Peak, Andrew Bingham

As this is the first column of 2016, I would like to take the opportunity of wishing all readers a Happy New Year.

I am sure that 2016 will bring challenges and issues – as does every year.

Some we will be expecting, some we won’t, but I hope that it proves a good and prosperous one for everyone.

There were further developments last week regarding a decision made in 2015 – that of the Healthier Together programme.

Readers will be familiar with this issue, which involved reconfiguring the hospitals across Greater Manchester and focusing certain procedures on specialist hospitals
Whilst we were all delighted to see Stepping Hill designated as one of these hospitals, it was of great concern when this decision was challenged by practitioners from Wythenshawe.

I and many others made our concerns very clear, should that challenge have succeeded.

Last week it was announced that the appeal was unsuccessful and it was found that the original decision had been properly taken and was robust. This means that the original decision stands.

Whilst the doctors who launched the challenge may seek the right to appeal, it is good news that the original decision was upheld and I hope that should any further appeal be launched then it too will be dismissed.

Although the Prime Minister has promised a referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union by the end of 2017, there is still a distinct possibility that it will be held in 2016.

People ask me what side of the argument I will come down on, and my position is that it depends on what kind of concessions the Prime Minister manages to get from the EU.

There are great benefits from our membership, but the ever-spreading tentacles of political control emanating out of the EU are something that concerns me and many others – both in the High Peak and across the country.

I am pleased that at last there will be a referendum; it has been promised by all political parties at some point, but now it is a definite reality and when it does come along then the whole country can take part in the fully informed debate.

The final decision will not be taken by politicians, but by all of us when we cast our vote – whichever way. One thing is sure; it will be one of the most crucial decisions that we will all be faced with in our lifetimes.