Herald Column February 14th 2019

This week in Westminster has been shaping up for yet another vote on Brexit on Thursday, rather unfairly dubbed by some as a ‘Valentine’s Day Massacre’ though is not exactly clear why. The Prime Minister has just announced that the next big showdown will now be on Wednesday February 27th, so (continue to) watch this space.

There was plenty going on in the Commons last Thursday though I managed to speak about no fewer than four issues from; peri-natal mental health to rough sleeping, to mobile phone roaming charges post Brexit to the Government’s review of legal aid. On the last of these I am pleased that the Legal Aid Exceptional Cases Board will now be looking at how it funds legal representation for the families of victims. This is of course, particularly topical for the Shoreham Air Show crash inquest which is due to be held in the autumn, where I have had to lobby the Prime Minister and Justice Ministers hard.

I spoke in a particularly well attended debate on rough sleeping as I wanted to flag up the innovative work being done by the Lyndhurst Road scheme managed by the charity Turning Tides (better known by its former name; the Worthing Churches Homeless Project) in partnership with Roffey Homes and Worthing Council, using money from a special Government fund. Rough sleeping is a very visible problem and the Government has announced a series of initiatives. It is still early days but nationally, rough sleeping numbers are down by 2%, whereas in Worthing they have virtually halved. This project is something I urged other towns to learn from. There is a link to the full debate on my website.

I got some bemused expressions from constituents in Shoreham early on Friday morning when I visited the sorting office and then went out on a delivery round with local postie - Lee. Despite my best efforts to squeeze various items through minuscule post boxes, I had to summon a number of half-awake people to the doorstep, some wondering whether I had now resorted to moonlighting! We also discussed the campaign that I am backing in Parliament to prevent new houses being built with ground level letterboxes – the bane of posties and political leaflet deliverers alike. Fortunately, we only came across one.

Congratulations again to Sir Robert Woodard Academy and a group of very impressive and ambitious students who took part in a bit of ‘speed dating’, with a number of local employers, to talk about career opportunities. I was asked to take part and unlike most of my adult colleagues there, I was keen to warn people off a career in politics, or at least rushing into one until having experienced something in the outside world. I therefore majored on my previous career in financial services and my rather unconventional route to it at university. This was until my very last ‘speed date’, who happened to be someone who absolutely wanted to become an MP as soon as possible. What are they teaching them at SRWA?