Herald column August 9th 2018

Given the lack of rain it was incredible that there were any entries at all at the Shoreham Horticultural Society Summer Show last week. But as usual the standard of the blooms was spectacular and always puts my garden to shame. My modest entries from the vegetable patch did surprisingly well and I picked up a few firsts, the Sparrow Shield for my vegetable collection and even a 2nd for my blackcurrant jam. I knew I should have added more cassis to it! Perhaps I am becoming a bit too obsessed as my wife claims when I ban any picking of vegetables without my approval in the run up to the show.

I went out on patrol recently with some of our local police, as I like to do on a regular basis to see what is going well and what is not and hear from officers at first-hand about their concerns. It is also helpful with my work on the Home Affairs Select Committee where we are carrying out a long-term review into the state of modern policing and the new challenges we face from online fraud to radicalisation threats.

As usual it was not a particularly eventful evening and I was told as always I should have been here the week before when it all kicked off. Interestingly though we were called out to a number of cases involving mental illness where it was clearly more a matter for medics than police yet the latter inevitably turn out to be the first port of call and an ambulance can often only turn up after the police have signalled the all clear. In Sussex we pioneered a scheme where community psychiatric nurses go out on patrol with police officers so they can offer a clinical response when it is more appropriate. I have seen how well it works at first hand too but clearly this is a greater problem than the resources available suggest.

The summer recess is a good time to catch up on the constituency events that we just cannot find time for when Parliament is sitting. It was fascinating therefore to be invited to a meeting of the Strive Group which meets on Tuesdays at the East Worthing Community Centre to act as a support group for local people with chronic long-term conditions. The well attended meeting have me a lot of first-hand accounts of the challenges many people face, not least with the benefits system which will be useful for me when challenging our local service and ministers about how it could be more ‘user friendly.’

I am pleased to report that we have a new home for the pensioners fair this year. We have been offered the empty shop in the Montague Quarter in Worthing which was the successful location for the pop-up art exhibition earlier in the summer. The event will be held on Friday September 7th between 10.30 and 1pm and I will provide further details later in the month and on my website.