As the outgoing Member of Parliament for South Cambridgeshire, I would like to offer my heartfelt thanks to my constituents for putting their trust in me (indeed, an increased proportion of you voted for me each time I stood for re-election) and affording me the chance to represent this tremendous part of our country these past 18 years.
I have had the chance to represent among the most intellectual voters in the country; a place of enterprise and innovation. When we talk about the “Cambridge Phenomenon”, most of it takes place in South Cambridgeshire. Indeed, we boast some of the world’s greatest institutions: the Laboratory of Molecular Biology – which boasts a Nobel Prize-winning record greater than any other Institute in the world, the Wellcome Trust’s Sanger Institute - where more work was done on sequencing the human genome than any other centre in the world, and Cambridge University Hospitals and Papworth Hospital – where we boast world-leading centres of clinical expertise – among them.
As I take my leave, we have secured more of the infrastructure needed for the future: a vast programme of investment through the Cambridge City Deal; the re-building of the A14; delivery of superfast broadband to over 90,000 homes and businesses by the end of this year through the ‘Connecting Cambridgeshire’ programme; and Papworth’s new hospital secured financial close a fortnight ago and work has now started on the site. Building has also started at Northstowe, which will be the largest new settlement built in this country for a generation.
South Cambridgeshire is the Eastern Powerhouse. The ONS says employment is up by some 35% in the past five years, and we are home to 10% more businesses than 5 years ago. Unemployment is down by 60% and amongst the very lowest in the country; youth unemployment is down by two-thirds as well.
But most of all, I think most of my constituents will agree that quality of life in South Cambridgeshire is high; the community spirit, remarkable history, idyllic villages and picturesque countryside make this amongst the best places to live in the country (if not the world), and it has always been my number one priority to defend this quality of life we enjoy.
I think it is not hubris to say that I leave office with my constituency in great shape, and it has been my great pleasure to have served you since 1997.