AS 2023 draws to a close its perhaps a time to reflect on what we have achieved – and what we have not, writes MP Anne Marie Morris.

While we have continued to battle with inflation and the cost-of-living crisis with some success, we have had the opening of a further international tragedy in Gaza. Israel has a right to defend itself – but it must abide by the rules of war and do better at minimising civilian casualties. 

The war in Ukraine, which many hoped would be a short conflict, has continued to vex the international community. 

The latest twist could see energy prices rise again. All that said, it has been a more stable year with fewer surprises. Parliament has continued to legislate and debated 274 bills of which 55 were signed into law by the King. 

This year saw the Financial Services and Markets Act pass through parliament, the first time access to cash has been mandated in law.

 The challenge for 2024 will be solving the last piece of the puzzle and getting cash acceptance mandated too. Communities like ours are heavy users of cash. 

Here in Teignbridge, we were faced with losing all our banks in Teignmouth and Dawlish leaving Newton Abbot and Exeter the only places to go! For me that was a red line. Shaming the regulator, as I could and did, as a member of Treasury Select Committee, that has changed. We will have hubs in Dawlish and Teignmouth!

The challenge of completing our train line making it resilient has been a yearly fight to make sure the money needed for each phase is in the budget. 

It’s been a long journey since the sea wall came down at Dawlish in 2014. This year, we finally saw the announcement of funding for the design of Phase 5, the last phase of the South West Rail Resilience Programme. It was a fight – and a big thank you to the BBC and Spotlight for helping me make the case with some very telling reporting!

Now I must make sure this promise is delivered on and that after the design phase the money needed for the build programme is also forthcoming. And with your help we saved the ticket offices from closing! Result!

But one of the biggest local challenges has been flooding. The last two storms decimated Kenton with the school no longer fit for purpose. Devon County Council are working on a plan to address the challenges facing the village early next year. 

There were also flash floods in part of Kingsteignton causing havoc. Small flood resilience projects are in hand at Decoy in Newton Abbot, in Stokeinteignhead and Broadhempston. 

While Newton Abbot has seen the Holbeam dam made more resilient, the problem is of course also coastal. Dawlish, Teignmouth and Shaldon have benefitted from major flood prevention work but there is more to be done as any observer can see looking at the impact of the last storm on the point at Teignmouth and the continual erosion at Dawlish Warren. 

A beach management plan is being prepared for this coastal area, with the survey and planning work starting next year. 

The fight for Teignmouth Hospital continues. Devon County Council Health Scrutiny is to refer the decision once again to the Independent Reconfiguration Panel and the Secretary of State for Health with my support. 

At least we will see the MIU at Dawlish functioning once more in 2024 and Newton Abbot providing a more consistent UTC provision. 

The fight to sort out the shortfall of dentists continues. Devon MPs have been actively seeking solutions with Plymouth’s Peninsula School of Dentistry and asked the Secretary of State to roll out a mobile dental provision with Devon as the pilot! We will keep pushing.

A happy New Year to you all!