Herald Column: June 11

I am sure everyone will have been shocked by the terrible scenes from Minneapolis with the brutal killing of George Floyd. Many constituents have written to me expressing concerns at the underlying racism that still pervades many American institutions and aiming to draw parallels in the UK.

 I have set out my response to these tragic events in full on my website and in my responses. Suffice it to say that whilst we undoubtedly have problems with race at home and we have much more to do, it is on an altogether different scale to the US and when it happens the default position here is to call it out quickly and loudly. In Adur and Worthing I am relieved to say that racial tensions have rarely played a significant role in my 23 years as MP

I applaud the passion of those who have been moved by these events to challenge all of us to do more. They will have been as exasperated as me by the small minority of demonstrators who thought their cause was promoted by hurling missiles at police and desecrating war memorials, rather than seriously undermining it as it did. The irony of attacking memorials to those who gave the ultimate sacrifice to preserve our liberties and free speech which allows people to demonstrate in Whitehall is clearly lost on that small group of thugs.

Thanks are due to all those heads, teachers and parents who have made it possible to enable so many of our primary schools in West Sussex to open up again to certain year groups. I know how challenging this has been especially for small schools already cramped for space. Delaying further to September would have meant that some children would have been out of school for 6 months and we know just how big an impact that can have at such an impressionable age and how difficult it can be to catch up.

The nominations for my Coronavirus Community Champion awards continue to flood in and this week I start with 2 of the Covid19 Community Support Groups that have sprung up and done such a fantastic job in bringing everyone together. Martyn Feather is behind the excellent Lancing and Sompting Coronavirus Community Support Group set up right at the outset of the pandemic and at the other end of Adur the Southwick, Fishersgate COVID-19 Community Support has been run by Mel Humphreys ,Debs Stainforth and Jill Lennon.

I have also had several nominations by new Adur Council Chairman Andy McGregor and Worthing community activist Emily Harris who have spent virtually every weekday evening in Worthing hospital car park come rain or shine, first manning Shopital and then handing out freshly prepared meals to NHS staff coming off shift.

Finally, a local business. I have had many more nominations than anyone else for Southwick Square Meats who have really stepped up during the lockdown, overcoming all obstacles to look after their customers and ‘generally just been fab.’ Congratulations to all. The certificates are on their way.