ON the economy, growth over the last four quarters is now 2.8 per cent; its fastest rate for five years. Overall growth in 2013 was 1.9 per cent and 2013 was the first year in which the economy grew in all four quarters since 2007.
Interestingly, of all sectors, manufacturing grew fastest at 0.9 per cent. The IMF has also confirmed that Britain is the fastest growing major European economy.
It is more evidence that the Government's long-term economic plan is working. In addition, the number of unemployed claimants in Stone constituency in December 2013 was 582 (1.4 per cent of the economically active population aged 16 to 64), which is 290 lower than in December 2012.
Locally, unemployment is now at 1.8 per cent across Staffordshire (the lowest in the West Midlands). Of course, the job is not done but it is clear that the biggest risk now to the recovery would be abandoning the plan that's delivering jobs and a brighter economic future.
On wind turbine proposals, following my attendance in December at the consultation session on the REG Wind Power proposals for a wind farm north west of Gnosall and in line with the wishes of my constituents, I will fight these proposals for wind turbines, which would be 130 metres tall to blade tip, and which will be a blot on the skyline.
After all, it was very much welcomed last year that Stafford Borough Council planning committee decided to refuse the planning application for the wind turbines at Pingle Lane, in Stone, following the many objections, as the proposals were completely contrary to the interests of my constituents.
Wind turbines are inefficient, uneconomic and based on massive subsidies and which – far from being environmentally friendly or a sustainable source of energy – spoil the landscape, damage the local community, and drive down house prices, which is already happening on a serious scale.
On HS2, I continue to work with the HS2 action groups in Stone, Swynnerton, Whitmore and Madeley on our opposition and I am due to submit a letter of opposition to the consultation on phase two of the HS2 route this week.