Herald column April 20th

As I write this at the end of Holy Week it is difficult to forecast what state the world will be in by the time this column is published given the state of affairs in Syria and the Korean Peninsula threatening a head to head between various superpowers. So what better way to spend the holiday weekend than go to the opening of a playground?

Adur Council have done a great job at the Hamble Rec in partnership with Sompting Big Local and Sompting Parish Council. There were crowds of excited children on hand as Adur Council Chairman Ann Bridges did the honours opening the brand new playground in Sompting which replaced the rather abused skate park nearby. These days playgrounds have zip wires, climbing walls and trampolines and it was good to see so many young people getting stuck in with some real rough and tumble.

It was a clever idea as well to designate a small area of grass as a wildflower patch and even better to get the youngsters to help sow some seeds and hopefully take an interest in seeing it come into bloom.

Later on I was invited to take part in the New Testament Marathon bible reading at the Southwick Christian Community Church just off Southwick Green. Reverend Lynda Hulcoop had organised 133 readers to narrate the whole of the New Testament throughout Holy Week, taking 22 hours in total. I was given a couple of chapters from Luke with some uplifting and familiar Bible stories – an oasis of calm in an otherwise turbulent time.

Shoreham is to get a new primary school with the news that the Department have approved the new St Clement Free School which will be an offshoot of the very popular St Nicolas and St Mary’s primary under the headship of David Etherington. This will help deal with the upcoming shortage of local school places given all the development going on locally but there is still pressure on secondary schools where Shoreham Academy has been a victim of its own success and again has been heavily oversubscribed. I have been working with a number of parents from Swiss Gardens Primary in particular now faced with a long journey to Steyning Grammar School’s satellite site a long way away at Storrington.

Parliament returned this week and we have got started on scrutinising the Finance Bill, the legislation which results from last months’ Budget. I have been lobbied on a number of difficult measures such as proposed changes to probate fees which I think will rightly come in for some closer scrutiny.

(Written before the Prime Minister announced a general election)