LAST week, in the Budget statement, the Chancellor announced a further £20m of investment for Darlington under the Government’s Long-Term Plan for Towns. This very welcome news builds on the £23.3m we have already received under the Towns Fund and will be administered in a similar way with local people scrutinising the plans.

The Towns Fund has already built the new Ingenium Centre at Darlington College, saved and funded the purchase and restoration of The Northern Echo building, helped to purchase Edward Pease House, funded the restoration of “the yards” off High Row and still has funds to enable the demolition of Northgate Tower. It is capital, visionary, exciting projects that this additional investment will help to realise.

You will already know that the Treasury is coming to Darlington, that there are new civil service jobs in town. There are in fact 750 of them already here, over 80 per cent of them going to local people from our region, and it was staff here in Darlington who helped the Chancellor put the Budget together. New jobs here in our town influencing government policy at the highest level.

Darlington has seen unprecedented investment, support and funding in the last few years, so much that I have had to record it all in a spreadsheet. It totals in excess of £1bn, and there are lasting positive impacts for our community too, in the form of new job opportunities, in life sciences, in engineering and indeed in the civil service, meaning that more people can stay local and go far.

I am proud to have delivered on the new jobs I promised to help deliver.

There is visible change in buildings and infrastructure, meaning you can once again take pride in our town, and getting to and from here is easier.

Budgets are not just about the big shiny things, as exciting as they are, they are also about the money in your pocket.

A second National Insurance cut in as many months, putting money back into your pockets. The living wage raised to £11.44 (hard to believe that it was only £5.93 in 2010). More fairness for those in receipt of child benefit, triple lock for our pensioners and an increase of 8.5 per cent for the state pension – which has risen by £3,700 since 2010. VAT threshold rise for small businesses, and let’s not forget the rates revaluations and discounts which many businesses are continuing to benefit from.

No one can ignore we’ve had a tough time in recent years. I don’t need to repeat the reasons. No one can pretend that Westminster has grabbed the headlines for the all the right reasons. And I sadly have been witness to much of that – it’s why the best parts of my week, the most satisfying and rewarding parts of my week, are when I am back in Darlington with you. Helping you in my surgery, visiting your community group and offering help and advice, joining in a community litter pick or just simply being part of the great town that we are.

Some MPs become the Westminster representative in the constituency. Not me. Serving you, representing you, working for you, and our business community is the truly the best job I have ever had, and I will continue to give you my all.

  • Peter Gibson is MP for Darlington