I am pleased to say that my Private Members Bill to extend civil partnerships, give greater protections against stillbirths and add the names of mothers on marriage certificates completed its committee stages in the Commons last Wednesday. There is one more hurdle to cross at report stage on October 26th before the Bill moves on to the Lords. So still further work to be done but so far so good.
This week the Commons breaks for the summer recess and returns on September 4th. My Westminster office will be operating as usual throughout August and the constituency office is manned from Tuesday to Friday morning.
End of term cannot come soon enough for one of our local schools at least where the latest shambolic timetable change from GTR has meant Davison girls were having to wait up to an hour for a train home and subsequently teachers decided to bring forward the school finish time. After parents complained I raised the issue in the Commons with the Rail Minster and lobbied the train operators and I am glad to say that the 15.36 is now stopping again at East Worthing station. Having got the platforms at that station widened a few years ago because of the weight of demand from local schools it would have been crazy not to stop there when most needed. But then customer service is not one of GTR’s strengths as we have come to learn.
The hot weather goes on and on and what better way to spend a Sunday afternoon than joining a group of Shoreham residents, Canon Ann Waizeneker and some musical accompaniment to bless a new vineyard at the foot of the Downs. This new venture by Shoreham Beach residents Fiona and Bernie West just beyond the Shoreham flyover is the first vineyard in my constituency and helped by this year’s weather is on course to start producing properly in a couple of years’ time.
The English Wine industry and particularly English sparkling wine is a huge success story that I have been involved with ever since I spent my student holidays working at the English Wine Centre in Alfriston where I grew up. Last year we produced around 3.9m bottles of wine here which has trebled since 2000 and this year is on track to be the best yet and we are consistently beating French Champagne houses in blind tastings. We are not allowed to call English fizz Champagne of course and the industry is still looking round for an agreed term. I suggested ‘I can’t believe it’s not champagne’ which should get round the rules.
A reminder that my meeting to discuss the situation in Israel and Palestine will be held at the Shoreham Methodist Church tomorrow (Friday 27th) at 7.30pm with refreshments from 7pm. See you there.