Craig Whittaker MP: Levelling up progress in Calder Valley is proudest achievement

​​Last month I became the MP who has served Calder Valley the longest, surpassing Donald Thompson’s record of 5,075 days. Donald served longer as an MP, serving a term as the MP for Sowerby before the new seat of Calder Valley was first contested 51 years ago.
Craig Whittaker MP,  Calderdale Royal Hospita A & E, Halifax.Craig Whittaker MP,  Calderdale Royal Hospita A & E, Halifax.
Craig Whittaker MP, Calderdale Royal Hospita A & E, Halifax.

Craig Whittaker MP writes: As retirement looms, constituents often ask what I feel my biggest achievements have been, what has been the hardest thing, and similarly what is my biggest regret.

The hardest and biggest regrets are intertwined.

The hardest thing for any MP, is whether we send young British men and women to war.

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Tony Blair changed Royal Prerogative when he took the Iraq war to parliament for a vote.

As MPs, we have voted on Libya in 2011, Syria in 2013, against ISIS in Iraq in 2014 and against ISIS in Syria in 2015.

he debates are always highly charged and emotional.

The Syrian vote defeat for the government in 2013, was my biggest regret.

Bashar Al-Assad had butchered 500,000 of his own people, had five million people displaced within Syria and over two million women and children were in camps outside of Syria.

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Obama was dragging his feet at the time, and because the UK voted against action, so too did the Americans.

With hindsight, that failure to act was the biggest catalyst for the millions of people displaced in the world that we see today, and the most displaced we have seen since the end of WW2.

The thing that I am most proud of is the huge amount of money we have managed to secure towards levelling up in Calder Valley. Well over half a billion pounds.

This is one aspect of the job I have really enjoyed. Knocking on doors in Whitehall, sometimes even breaking them down, calling in favours, negotiating and putting cases before ministers, the Treasury and even the PM of the day.

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£196.5m for our hospital rebuild which has just come out of the planning system.

£150m for flood defences, seeing Mytholmroyd transformed and the work starting as we speak in Brighouse and Hebden Bridge.

Eleven schools now have the money for total or partial rebuilds, including Todmorden and Calder high schools, for which I have campaigned for many years.

Brighouse, Todmorden and Elland have £43.5m for town centre redevelopment and Elland getting their new railway station.

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On transport, every train platform has been extended, new signalling along the whole of the Calder Valley line, new disabled access in Hebden Bridge and several new and extended car parks.

Who can forget the old Pacer trains which have now gone, and we see the new CAF 195 trains instead.

Add in the vast amounts of support received during the pandemic with furlough and business grants, which is over £1 billion in levelling up.

The thousands of constituency cases we have dealt with over the years is hugely gratifying when we make a difference to somebody’s life.

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Without my team around me, we could not have achieved what we have, and they have played a huge role in supporting me and Calder Valley.

Serving Calder Valley has been one of the biggest privileges of my life.

I am incredibly grateful to everyone in Calder Valley who has put their trust in me over the last four terms.

Thank you.