Herald column August 2nd 2018

There was a great example of ‘Fake News’ just before Parliament broke for the summer recess last week, and I became part of it in my column last week. Having been contacted by Davison’s parents about the impact of the latest train timetable changes on the school day I took up the matter in Parliament with the Minister Jo Johnson and with GTR itself.

The Head of Davison’s had written to me and to parents accusing GTR of withdrawing the 3.45pm train from East Worthing meaning students would have to wait up to 50 minutes after leaving school. As a result he had changed the school timetable. When I discussed this with GTR confusion reigned as they were adamant that nothing had changed and lo and behold when the Head actually went to check for himself the train was stopping as normal. Apparently it was a false alarm but a lot of concern had been caused by not checking the facts.

Never one to look a bandwagon in the mouth a local Labour councillor then took to social media to praise the ‘Davison’s campaign… especially the Headteacher’ as a ‘good example of what can be achieved against a large and powerful company when local people decide something is wrong.’ Except of course it wasn’t. But now we are promised that the ‘Labour Group will be monitoring the situation in the coming months’ presumably at least until another bandwagon presents itself.

Thank you to all those who came along to my discussion at the Shoreham Methodist Church about the Israel/Palestine situation. It was a very well attended meeting and predictably a lively one at that. I reported back on my recent trip to Jerusalem and the West Bank including some photos of the Bedouin settlement and school at Khan al Ahmar which has subsequently been bulldozed.

Whilst there were strong feelings on both sides of the argument my aim was to concentrate not on taking sides but to take common cause with ordinary Israelis and Palestinians who are more interested in a lasting peace than their respective leaders who have led them badly for too many years. I have promised to organise a follow up meeting if I return to Israel from the perspective of the Israeli Government. We are never going to solve this age old conflict in a church in Shoreham-by-Sea but being better informed and engaging in respectful debate can only be a good thing.