The United Kingdom is divided into 650 constituencies, each of which elects a Member of Parliament (MP) who sits in the House of Commons. The size of constituencies varies according to a number of factors but on average a constituency will contain approximately 72,400 electors. Once elected, the job of an MP is to represent the people of his or her constituency (constituents) in Parliament, whether or not they voted for him or her. There is one MP to each constituency, so even if you voted for one of the other candidates and you disagree with the views of your MPs party, your MP is still there to help you with all matters for which Parliament or central government is responsible.
At the last election there were 74,253 adults in the East Worthing & Shoreham constituency eligible to vote. Turnout was 67.2%, i.e. 49.898. However I am also here to represent young people and when they are added in too I am responsible for over 90,000 people in my constituency and I treat them all equally. Everyone is entitled to contact me in whatever appropriate way and providing they are not gratuitously rude or offensive or anonymous I obviously try to respond to everyone. We do ask that all correspondence should include the full name and address of the constituent as MPs can only take up cases for their own constituents. However, with a high number of emails coming into my office every working day let alone letters and telephone calls, there are times when we cannot be as speedy in responding as I would like and occasionally of course things do go missing. If you have sent an email to the right address (firstname.lastname@example.org) you will have received an automated acknowledgement with further details to consider. In the unlikely event that you hear nothing further after a while then please email again.
I am approached on a wide range of subjects at my surgeries or through correspondence. Some people will come individually or in groups to lobby for my support on changes to certain pieces of legislation or campaigns at home or abroad. Many people ask me to take up the cudgels for them on very local matters perhaps to do with schooling, housing or transport and I also get approached on a lot of immigration matters. Whilst I am always happy to help if I can, many cases are matters which should first be taken up with the local council or a ward councillor. The main councils which cover my constituency are as follows and their respective websites will give you details of how to complain or how to get in touch with the relevant councillor:
West Sussex County Council www.westsussex.gov.uk(link is external)
Adur and Worthing Councils www.adur-worthing.gov.uk(link is external)
Lancing Parish Council www.lancingparishcouncil.gov.uk(link is external)
Sompting Parish Council www.sompting.org.uk(link is external)
I have always aimed to make myself as accessible and approachable to constituents as possible through holding fortnightly surgeries, street surgeries, my TellTim website (www.telltim.co.uk) my monthly newsletter, and my website (www.timloughton.com) which the majority of you use to contact me. Of course, there are also the more conventional ways to contact me by writing to me at the House of Commons or the Constituency Office in Worthing which is also open to callers during certain hours from Tuesday-Friday.
I am always happy to help constituents with local problems and to voice their concerns over national policy, or to explain the Government's position on certain policies. Indeed I go out of my way to encourage people to engage with local politicians and the political process, especially younger people who may feel disengaged from politics. Whether their views coincide with mine or not is irrelevant. However I am often inundated with generic emails from the lobbying organisation 38 Degrees and many of my constituents just forwarded the template email to me so that I had over 250 emails saying exactly the same thing. I am always far more impressed and far more inclined to be influenced by constituents who feel strongly enough about an issue that they can write an individual letter to their MP to explain why rather than simply pressing the 'forward' button on a computer to send on a pre-prepared circular. Some believe that lobbyists such as 38 Degrees are a great way to represent people's views, however I do not believe that it is an excuse not to take five minutes out of their day to write me a personal email saying why an issue is so important. I do it every day to hundreds of emails. You only have to write one.
Given the time it was taking to reply to mass emailing campaigns, I took the decision not to reply to each email directly but I have instead created a 'Campaign Email' page on my website at www.timloughton.com, where you can find my views on recent events and this can then be easily updated as a situation develops.
On particularly key local and national issues I also produce video podcasts. I also produce a regular e-newsletter to keep constituents abreast of what I have been getting up to and details about certain issues and events locally and at Westminster. I am usually very happy to arrange public meetings or face to face meetings with groups of constituents again when there are important issues affecting people locally.