News is breaking all the time, and on this page you will be able to read my latest press releases. Most of these stories have appeared in the local or national media. Being an active Member of Parliament, I am always aware of matters of local importance, and often get involved in controversial events - such as Controlled Parking Zones in Worthing and Shoreham, Rampion Off-Shore Wind Farm and Brighton & Hove Albion Training Ground at Mash Barn.
next street surgeries
You are here
latest news and archive
latest news item:
Wed 26 Aug 2015
Due to the overwhelming number of offers of help from the local community it has been decided that a central point should be set up that contains the details of all events being arranged to raise funds following the tragic accident on Saturday. People offering themselves, local shops or businesses can be added and the link will be live from today (Thursday 27th) at: http://shorehamcondolence.org/community-events/
Anyone who wishes to help with any of the events can then make contact via the link with event organiser to offer their help. I am sincerely proud of how our local community has pulled together during this difficult period.
Adur District and Worthing Borough Councils have also established an online book of condolence which can be viewed here: http://shorehamcondolence.org/
If you would like to sign it yourself, my colleague Dave Briggs (copied into this email) would be pleased to look out for it and to give it due prominence.
Physical books of condolence are located at the Adur Civic Centre and Worthing Town Hall, as well as in County Hall. Opening hours can be found here: www.adur-worthing.gov.uk/news/pr15-116.html
COMMEMORATIVE BRIDGE OF LIGHT -
Saturday 29th August from 8pm
There will be a Bridge of Light across the Adur Ferry Footbridge on Saturday 29th August from 8pm to commemorate the victims of the Shoreham Air Show tragedy.
Everyone in our community is invited to gather together and light a candle in remembrance for those tragically killed. It will also be a chance to show our solidarity with the families of those who died and those who were injured.
There will also be a minute's silence on Coronation Green and Beach Green at 1.30pm on Saturday 29th, as well as a minute's silence will also be held prior to the dragon boat race at Adur Outdoor Activity Centre.
Our local NHS services in Sussex and Brighton & Hove have joined together to offer support to those affected psychologically or emotionally by the tragic events at the Shoreham Airshow.
The three helpline numbers that have been set up are:
• If you live in West Sussex please ring: 01903 703548
• If you live in Brighton & Hove please ring: 0300 00 20 060
• If you live in East Sussex please ring: 0300 00 30 130
The helplines will be open from Monday to Friday between the hours of 9am and 5pm.
If you follow the link below you can find out more.
23rd August ...
The horrific events at Shoreham Air Show yesterday are tragic on so many levels. As I write it looks as though the death toll will be in double figures. So far seven people are known to have lost their lives and it is feared that the figure will rise as police carry out the grim job of sifting through the wreckage on the crash site.
First and foremost our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of those who have lost their lives and indeed to those who are unaccounted for. I cannot imagine their agony. It should have been an enjoyable day out for the 20,000 plus spectators and families who came to watch the thrilling exploits of highly skilled pilots in planes old and new. As more details emerge of those who were caught up in this tragic accident I am sure we will be moved by the personal tragedies of the individuals involved. Already we know that two local young footballers from Worthing United FC are amongst the casualties as well as a young personal trainer from Littlehampton.
This morning I joined many local people who crammed into St Mary de Haura Church in Shoreham and other local churches to pay their respects, seek solace and try to make some sense out of such a senseless loss of promising young lives. Walking around our town last night and again this morning the atmosphere was very subdued. Clearly people are still trying to come to terms with the shock that our community has been the scene of such a terrible disaster, the worst at an air show since the Farnborough tragedy in 1952.
The other tragedy is the effect on the Shoreham Air Show itself. This is not just some one-off amateur event. Over the last 26 years it has been one of the leading fundraisers for the RAF Association charity contributing over £2m for their good works. A considerable team of dedicated professionals and volunteers work year round to produce this spectacular event. I know that the safety of the participants, spectators and local residents is paramount when planning this huge undertaking. It is a highly organised and professional event. Everything will have been done to have kept everyone safe. Alas in this case an as yet unexplained accident took place and people on the A27 queuing for the Air Show or travelling by have lost their lives.
Many people have understandably been asking questions about whether we should we taking the risk of running events like this. Is Shoreham the best place? There was of course a previous fatality at the show in 2007 when another experienced Hawker pilot Brian Brown crashed into the Downs after an unplanned roll. No one on the ground had been injured at this or any other air show since 1952. After the 2007 accident a number of changes were made to the way the Shoreham Show was run including moving it into August during the school holidays when nearby Lancing College was not occupied by students. Lessons were certainly learned and crucially put I to effect then.
Whilst most of the aerobatics take place over the open fields of the ‘land raise’ site to the west of the airport, down the Adur Valley or out to sea, this accident took place over the busy A27 and just by the busy junction serving as the main entrance into the airport. Coincidentally I had driven east past the site literally just a minute before the event and saw a couple of hundred yards of stationery traffic waiting to access the Airport and some 60 plus spectators sitting on the northern side of the A27 just below the Sussex Pad.
Given the size of the fireball caused by a full tank of fuel as the Hawker Hunter had just begun its display after lunch, it is perhaps a miracle that more people were not killed. A few yards further either way or in a different direction the results could have been even worse. It appears that the damage was mercifully localised in quite a small area and the traffic lights were on green meaning that most through traffic had just moved off westwards.
But there are many questions to be asked. The vintage ex RAF plane involved was from the 1950’s. I am sure they are well maintained and the pilots know what they are doing but should these acrobatics be quite so daring for such elderly aircraft? Should they be performing loop-the-loop manoeuvres above a busy main road let alone with spectators, parked cars and houses not far away if they fall off course for some reason?
I am certainly not qualified to answer these questions. These are the sort of issues that the crash investigators will be tasked with addressing as they start their work. But we need to have the answers as to exactly what happened before rushing to judgement and condemning all air shows outright. When we have the answers then we can make a value judgement about what further safety improvements need to be made or if the risks now outweigh the benefits.
It is worth remembering that this is a hugely popular charity event. It is one of the highlights in the calendar for many local people and enthusiasts from far around. It has won awards for being the ‘Best Family Event in Sussex’ and one of the ‘Best Air Shows in the UK.’ We should also remember that it takes place at a working airport. Shoreham is not only the oldest commercial airport in the country and has been going since 1911 but last year was the 11th busiest too. It has an impeccable safety track record and is much treasured by local people. Remember the furore over the change of ownership a few years back and worries whether it would go out of business and be developed?
I would like to pay tribute to the emergency services whose professionalism was never in doubt as usual. As the full story unravels I have no doubt we will hear of the bravery of those early on the scene including the volunteers and marshals stewarding the entrance to the air show. We are grateful to colleagues from Hampshire, Surrey and East Sussex Fire and Rescue Services who were quickly there to assist our own local firefighters too. I know that the County Council have been providing skilled social workers to support the families of those affected and the police have deployed a number of family liaison officers. Emergency response staff from Adur Council quickly made available Lancing Leisure Centre and were speedily on hand to respond to a major incident.
Faced with the mammoth task of evacuating hundreds of vehicles from the Airport site without free access to the A27 the police have also reported on the patience and understanding of the many spectators stranded and the priority in which they were able to facilitate people leaving.
So everyone did their job but a tragic accident happened that was not meant to happen. As further details become clear we must steel ourselves for more heart-breaking news but I am confident that our town and our community will rally round and give support to those that need it. That is what we do and we do it well.
Tomorrow I will be visiting the site with the Chief Constable and Police Commissioner and will update this blog accordingly.
Tim Loughton MP - August 23rd 2015
UPDATED: 26th August...
If there is one crumb of comfort from the horrific events of the weekend it is the professionalism and dedication of the emergency services who have been working tirelessly to deal with the aftermath. I joined the Chief Constable and Police Commissioner to visit the crash site on Monday. It gave me the opportunity to speak to many of the police, firefighters and forensic staff there, at Lewes Police HQ and the control centre which has taken over the Brighton & Hove training ground in Lancing.
We expect a lot of our emergency services but I am sure we do not fully appreciate the harrowing demands put on them when dealing with major tragedies like this. I spoke to some pretty toughened firefighters and experienced police officers. Everyone told me it was the worst scene they had ever witnessed. Those early responders who raced to the site, including ambulance and medical staff and many volunteers, were faced with very traumatic experiences on the A27. Yet instinctively they all got on with their job and they did it with extraordinary skill.
I met many officers who had been on leave or even on holiday only to drop everything and turn up for work to do their bit. Obviously the families of those who have lost their lives are uppermost in our thoughts and family liaison officers are working with them sensitively to give whatever support is needed. We should also remember though that many emergency service personnel have been through a traumatic time and will need support too.
The floral shrine that the Old Toll Bridge has become and the constant stream of people paying their own respects, is evidence of how the community is rallying round. The Seagulls have generously given over their training ground to the police; Lancing College gave accommodation and catering; the volunteer Red Cross canteen van on site is dishing up food provided free by Tesco and Marks & Spencer even sent down free socks for police officers with wet feet in the driving rain.
I have heard nothing but praise for the emergency services and was able to pass that on personally. Local people have been tremendously patient and understanding despite the inevitable traffic congestion. That is likely to continue until after the weekend. The forensic work going on is painstaking but we owe it to the victims to be thorough and collect every piece of evidence possible. In the meantime the Toll Bridge is where people can go for reflection and tribute. Additionally there will be a special candlelight vigil as part of Riverfest on Adur Ferry Bridge on Saturday at 8pm.
We are working on a formal memorial event likely to be held at Lancing College Chapel at an appropriate time in the next few weeks once the dust has settled and when the wishes of the families can be properly reflected. In the meantime, out of the tragedy we should take pride in the way our emergency services and our community have responded.
UPDATED: 26th August...
You can read below my letter to the Chief Constable of Sussex Police, Giles York, comending the incredible job our emergency services are doing in such difficult circumstances. I have also sent a letter to the Chief Fire Officer of West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service, Sean Ruth, and the Chief Executive of the South East Coast Ambulance Service, Paul Sutton, similarly comending their work and that of their staff during this tragedy.
Chief Constable Giles York QPM
Sussex Police Headquarters
East Sussex BN7 2DZ 25 August 2015
I just wanted to put pen to paper to thank you for arranging my visit to the scene of the Shoreham air crash yesterday, together with the Police Commissioner, and to have the opportunity to speak at first hand to so many of the members of the emergency services who are doing such an incredible job in such difficult circumstances.
The tragic events of the weekend have affected so many people in so many different ways. Clearly the priority must be with the families of those victims and I want to commend your officers for the highly professional and sensitive way in which they have dealt with those who are grieving most.
It goes without saying that we should not be surprised at the professionalism shown by the police officers and firefighters. It was tremendously heartening to hear how so many of your staff who were not even on call dropped everything to come in and do their job and to rally round without fuss and in such an unflappable way.
If there is one crumb of comfort that one can take from such a tragic event it must be the pride that we can take in our emergency services and perhaps, too often, we take for granted the huge demands placed on them. Without exception, even the most hardened firefighters and experienced police officers I spoke to yesterday said that this was the most horrific scene that they had ever encountered and yet everyone got on with their job.
Whilst the support of the victims’ families is the first priority, it is absolutely essential that we also provide support to those officers who have been exposed to such traumatic scenes, particularly in those early stages straight after the accident. I spoke to the Home Secretary today and emphasised this point and she wanted me to pass on her gratitude and pride in the way all of your officers have carried out their jobs. I am sure, at the appropriate time, she will be passing on her personal thanks directly.
The other thing that struck me was just how well planned the emergency response was. This was a very complex and challenging emergency situation and yet officers immediately put into effect the contingency plans for which they have been training for many years seamlessly and to huge effect. It was clear from talking to the many agencies on site that all the different professional bodies are working together incredibly well and doing their job as one would expect. Certainly there appear to have been absolutely no complications caused by any sort of professional differences between agencies and that was indeed impressive.
Whilst it was enormously useful for me to see at first-hand what exactly has been going on behind the scenes and to be able to pass on my gratitude to the officers I met, on behalf of my constituents and the wider community, I would be grateful if you could extend on to the full Sussex Police force and your colleagues in the Fire Service just how grateful and proud we all are of them.
Inevitably the public can appreciate only a fraction of the extraordinary job that the emergency services have been doing and I will take every opportunity to make this more widely acknowledged. I hope it is of some encouragement however that I have heard nothing but praise from my constituents and everybody has accepted the obvious inconvenience that has followed such a major incident with good grace and patience because they appreciate the quality of the necessary job that you are all doing.
I know we will have further opportunities to talk and to see at first hand the continued work of your officers over the coming days but I just felt I should write and express my gratitude and pride which I know is very widely shared.
Tim Loughton MP
Member of Parliament for East Worthing & Shoreham