Julian’s New Year Message – York Press
January 1, 2022
After another year dominated by covid, I want to warmly wish residents a Happy New Year.
I know many York households have suffered appallingly from the pandemic, with 2021 proving a second grim year. I have been listening and working for you throughout this ordeal, and am here to help in any way I can.
This must be the year we return irreversibly to liberty and normality, with sensible safety measures where necessary, but a decisive move away from the blunt instrument of national restrictions, and I will vote in Parliament to bring this about.
Throughout 2021, the vaccine rollout has been a shining light, and we must hope that the frenetic pace of the booster programme will prevent the omicron variant ruining the first months of the New Year. Over half the population is already covered, well above levels in Germany, France or America, and 2022 has to be the year we move to relying on our vaccine shield, rather than draconian, job-destroying lockdowns.
The government’s decision to impose no new restrictions before Christmas due to incomplete evidence on omicron is a welcome sign a more balanced approach will be taken this year, a position I am glad I helped push them into by voting against the vaccine passports and mandatory NHS worker vaccination elements of ‘Plan B’. Our local economy cannot recover without a return to normal trading, and I will not hesitate to vote against the government again if they propose further restrictions that are not justified by the evidence.
Having lobbied vocally in favour of our city’s large hospitality and tourism sector, I expect any further business-damaging anti-covid measures to be accompanied by targeted support for those affected, and am glad the Chancellor has already unveiled a £1 billion assistance package.
In 2022 I will continue my focus on addressing the covid-created NHS backlog, and press for York to get its rightful share of the £8 billion allocated by Ministers to cut waiting lists, with new operating theatres and facilities, as well as the necessary resources for local GP surgeries.
Having successfully pressed government to commit to introduce new penalties for the terrible crime of pet theft, I will work to ensure the draft law passes Parliament in good time this year.
Upgrading York’s transport infrastructure will remain a major focus, building on recent positive signs regarding a railway station for Haxby, and a new York-Beverley rail line. I will also lobby Ministers to deliver a high-speed TransPennine route. This would be easier if York had a strong devolved mayor like other Northern centres, which is why securing a devolution settlement to unlock jobs and investment will be another big priority.
I wish York residents all the very best for 2022.