Herald Column: July 4

Last week was again dominated by issues related to children and climate change. Our 12th annual Worthing & Adur Eco Summit was hosted by Worthing College for the first time and thanks to their very efficient and supportive staff and students over 200 local schoolchildren from 14 schools had a fantastic day learning about what more they could do to help the environment.

Single use plastics were banned, and they learnt about alternatives to plastic, not least the growth in alternative fibres such as bamboo in textile production. Workshops in renewable energy, reducing waste and encouraging insect pollinators in gardens and wildlife on the Downs were amongst the many good ideas to learn from.

I encouraged them all to go home and become absolute ‘pests’ badgering their family, friends and schoolmates to do their bit for the environment. I know they have taken heed because I have had ’complaints’ already! Otherwise the only real complaint I had was from one Labour activist student at the College who tweeted her disgust that her politics class discussing Jeremy Corbyn was disturbed by the Eco Summit. So much for some people’s alleged commitment to the climate emergency.

The day before I was delighted to welcome a group of constituents from East Worthing & Shoreham who joined the 12,000 strong ‘The Time is Now’ lobby – a mass lobby for climate, nature and people. Everywhere along the Embankment and across Westminster MPs were involved in lively discussion about the Government, councils and above all local people could do to avert the climate emergency and it was good to see so many people passionately committed to the greatest challenge of our times. I was pleased that it was an issue that came up a lot in my Talk to Tim public meeting at Findon Valley on Saturday afternoon, for those who resisted the temptation to join the heaving masses on the beach.

Talking of the Beach well done to Andy Sparsis of the Fish factory and the team from Neptune’s Larder for their Algaenarium on the prom offering seaweed cocktails, seaweed massages and assorted therapies. A great celebration of our coastline which we do not celebrate nearly enough in Worthing as Andy has pointed out and is doing something positive about. After an excellent Jameson seaweed cocktail at the launch on the Friday night I was back the following morning to support Vicky Vaughan’s ‘Talent Within You’ workshops where local teenagers are being helped to develop their skills and being given the chance for work placements with prestigious companies including McLaren who they visited last month.

On Saturday they were working with the beach volleyball court managers to design a mural to smarten up the hoardings around the court and then have a motivational talk from local Paralympic tennis player Lauren Jones. Well done to Vicky for giving young people these great opportunities. I was back in Steyne Gardens on the Sunday morning for the always well supported Drumhead service as part of Armed forces weekend and to hear a very punchy address from Services Chaplain Reverend George Butterworth and the debt we all owe our military.

Some of the veterans there had been in parliament Square the previous day to support the veterans demonstrating against the disgraceful treatment of Soldier F and other veterans facing possible prosecution for actions they took in the line of duty in Northern ireland back in the 1970’s. This must be sorted soon by the new Prime Minister and I was pleased to go and meet some of the demonstrators outside Parliament on Monday morning.