I’m confident that even better days lie ahead

The Most Rev Bishop Michael Curry gives an address during the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle and Zella love it    CREDIT:  Owen Humphreys/PA Wire

ZELLA COMPTON: He could almost have made me a believer

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Mark Hoban, MP for Fareham

So this is my final Off The Fence column and I want to touch on three crucial issues: the economic renaissance in our area, the strength of our local communities and the changing needs of our population.

Whilst we have faced some tough challenges locally, unemployment is falling and there is increased business confidence.

It is businesses that create jobs, but their efforts are being supported by local institutions. Colleges such as Fareham College are training excellent apprentices, whose skills will help businesses grow.

The Solent LEP is doing a fantastic job of supporting economic growth and tackling the barriers to further expansion. This is all part of our long-term economic plan providing financial security to families.

A strong local economy must be complemented by strong communities.

A strong local economy must be complemented by strong communities.

I recently met the volunteers who lead the Fareham Town FC youth programme and the Fareham School of Gymnastics.

Their commitment provides opportunities to hundreds of local children and without them our communities would be poorer.

Where government can’t meet needs, our local charities fill the gap – whether it’s the Rainbow Centre’s work with children with cerebral palsy or the Haven, which is opening a centre in Titchfield, supporting women with breast cancer.

These great initiatives are right here on our doorstep.

But we cannot be complacent. There are emerging challenges. For me the most important is supporting an ageing population.

People are living longer, often with serious health conditions, and staying in their own home rather than going to a nursing home.

On the positive side, it is older people who are the backbone of our community groups. But it is time to redesign health, housing and transport to meet the changing needs of our population. I see some really positive signs of this starting to happen.

It has been a great honour to serve Fareham as its MP and I am confident that even better days lie ahead for our town.