Happy New Year! I hope you had a very lovely Christmas and were able to ring in the New Year properly!

I also want to give my thanks to everyone who was working over Christmas, from those in Clacton Hospital, to the men and women who turned up to work across the constituency to keep our economy moving.

Your vital work I have no doubt has helped so many, especially at this time of year.

2023 brought so much to our constituency and I hope that we can continue this streak into 2024. The £78m worth of investment into Clacton was fantastic news - I’ve long been banging the drum for this constituency about how vital investment from the public and private sectors will be in delivering positive change for residents and I am pleased that the Government agrees. Boards and committees will now sit to ensure that this money is spent properly, and I hope to work closely to hold them to account and ensure that this money is spent sensibly, in the best interests of the people who work and live here.

When I brought the Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to Clacton it was to demonstrate to him the value that this investment has, and how more investment could further build on what has already been awarded. It’s not often that you get a chance to talk with the PM one-on-one, and so I relished the opportunity to talk about the unique circumstances in our constituency and give him my thoughts on what needs to be done to truly level up every corner of Clacton.

Clacton and Frinton Gazette: Rishi Sunak in Clacton with Giles WatlingRishi Sunak in Clacton with Giles Watling (Image: PA)

I was also pleased to read late last year that Clacton had in fact been named the 13th happiest place to live in the UK, and I know that this is the result of the work put in by residents who are proud of our community and I salute you!

Be assured that the next time a national journalist rings me asking for a comment in their latest hit-piece on our constituency, I’ll be sure to send them straight to that press release to let them know what I think of their attempts to talk us down!

But we can’t just dwell on last year: 2024 is going to be a big year for Britain, and I am keen to ensure that we keep up Clacton’s success going forward. With the budget coming in March, I hope that the Chancellor can deliver more sensible tax reforms to ease the burden on working people, as well as small and medium businesses.

We have so many excellent companies in this constituency who invest in local talent and development, and I want to make sure that everyone who works in them - from top to bottom - feels the benefit of a sensible Conservative budget.

I also want to see more investment up and down the constituency from private and public sectors. Whether its infrastructure - from hospitals to high streets, railways to regional connectivity - or employment opportunities, Clacton is levelling up and I don’t see why anything short of the sky should be the limit. I know what we are capable of and I will not rest until our full potential has been realised by Government and business alike.

Looking ahead to 2024, I’ve got some dates for your diary: I’ll be hosting pop-up surgeries at Clacton ASDA Superstore on January 19 and Clacton Tesco Superstore on February 2, from 10am - 12pm.

I’ll also be hosting more mobile bus surgeries in March on the 22 and 29 from 10am - 2pm around the constituency. Please join me to share your views and discuss any issues you may have!

Keep your eyes peeled on my social media (@GilesWatling) and my website (gileswatling.co.uk) for more information on where I am and what I’m up to in the coming months.

I wish you all a very happy 2024, and I hope to see so many of you over the coming year as we work together to make Clacton an even greater place to work, live, and raise a family.