FROM her victory in the June General Election to speaking up in Parliament more than any other newly elected MP, The Redditch Standard caught up with town MP Rachel Maclean to find out how she had found her first seven months in office.
“My real highlight of 2017 was being elected as MP for Redditch – it’s a great privilege and something I am really enjoying. To be able to get to know the town and the views of the people has been a really great experience,” she said.
“Even those who didn’t vote for me have made it clear they are happy to speak with me and raise any issues they have about the town.
“The biggest learning curve for me has probably been dealing with sheer number of different opinions and questions from my constituents. I get hundreds of emails every day, as well as letters and social media activity, so it can sometimes be a challenge. But it’s something me and my amazing team always aim to put first and something I hope will continue to be a big part of my job in 2018.”
Mrs Maclean also spoke about getting to know Redditch, and how she feels about those who may doubt her commitment to the area.
“Moving to the town in 2018 is on the cards – but in the meantime, I spend so much time here, I feel as though I am able to see and feel what is important to people. I work here, have my surgeries here, and my office is right in the town centre, and people are always welcome to come and see me there.
“While I am planning to move to the town, I do not think my ability to do a good job is impacted by living just a five minute drive from Redditch.
“Since being elected, I’ve really got to know what’s important to residents, and I’ve spoken more in Parliament than any other new MP – so that’s given me lots of opportunities to put Redditch first and tackle issues important to the town.”
She also spoke of her work to improve hospital services for Redditch residents, including the issues surrounding the Alex.
“The hospital is something that is always at the top of my list – and I don’t see that changing as we head into 2018.
“I do feel that people have on some level been let down by the way things have been handled in the past. It’s something I’ve taken on as soon as I was voted in and is something I will continue to work on.
“Schools and education are also a big priority, so I am working on visiting all of the schools in the area and building up good relationships with them.
“I also want to build on a new mentoring scheme to help young people truly realise their potential.
“Sometimes people can benefit hugely from speaking to and working with someone who has very different life experiences. They might not get that at school or at home, so a scheme working with local businesses can be a great way to achieve this.”
Her first months as Redditch MP have also brought a few inspiring surprises, such as the creativity and resourceful nature of many in the town.
“I’ve been really pleasantly surprised and heartened by the amount of creative talent in Redditch, ” she said.
“I’ve been working closely with artist Steve Pound – and while our politics don’t match, we’ve found we really have more in common than differences. The politics have sort of melted away and our love of art and passion for creativity has allowed us to build a great working relationship, striving to show the best of the town.
“I’ve really enjoyed visiting pop-up galleries and exhibitions in the Kingfisher too and I’m amazed by how much artistic talent is on offer.”