TOMORROW marks two years since the General Election, when a host of new MPs was elected across the north of England, including myself in Darlington.

It is always good to reflect on what has been achieved, particularly at the end of a few weeks when the political landscape has been stormy and the smoke from those fires might obscure the view of progress.

It also is useful to reset the view of where we are going.

While we await the publication of the White Paper on Levelling Up, Darlington can already point to many things that deliver on our Levelling Up agenda. We all know governments of all colours have let the north down – that was one of my key motivators for getting involved in politics – but already here we can see the impact of the Towns Fund money being invested in our town centre, we can see the first members of the Treasury working in the town and we can see the investment being injected into what I call “Darlington’s golden mile of opportunity” on Central Park.

At a smaller level we can see the investment made by our council (along with generous donors and local companies) in places like Corporation Road Primary School and Maidendale Nursery.

Levelling Up does not mean one single thing in one place. It means a whole host of new investment and opportunities to enable local people to stay local but to go far. I was elected on a promise to do that and while not wishing to mark my own homework, I firmly believe that this Government has ensured that Darlington is the poster child for Levelling Up.

Looking ahead, the campaign for Darlington to become the location of the headquarters of Great British Railways was featured in a Westminster debate this week. It turned into a Tees Valley derby with Sedgefield, Stockton, and Redcar MPs all using it as an opportunity to lay out their ambitions for our region. Like children armed with the Argos catalogue before Christmas, we are all being ambitious in our asks, and that is what our region has lacked for so long – that ambition and drive to secure more for our area.

With Ben Houchen leading the Tees Valley, we can continue to look forward to more road and rail investment, and ever more ambitious bids to bring new investment and new good quality highly paid jobs to our region.

I am proud to be part of the team of Conservative councillors, mayors, and MPs doing all we can to champion the north and delivering where the Labour Party, out of touch with our community, failed for a generation.

Two years on in this incredible job, which I still relish every day, I know that my team and I have helped a huge number of people and helped to shine a spotlight on the amazing town that is Darlington.

May I wish every reader a very Happy Christmas season and if you still have a few presents left to buy can I urge you to continue to shop in our fantastic array of local independent businesses.