Herald Column: June 27

This morning I visited the Iranian Embassy, or rather the pavement in front of the Iranian Embassy, to show solidarity with Ricard Ratcliffe, the husband of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, held in detention in Iran since 2016. Richard has been on hunger strike since last week mirroring his own wife’s actions in jail and has been welcoming a steady stream of well-wishers especially Iranian citizens whose gifts have turned the pavement protest into what looks like a florist’s shop.

For someone who has foregone food for the last week he was in remarkably good spirits and has continued to raise world attention to the outrageous treatment of his wife, much to the annoyance of the Iranian authorities. I am happy to give my support and do whatever it takes in Parliament to shame the Iranian Government into ending this appalling injustice. Thank you to those constituents who have written o me expressing their support as well.

Thank you also to all those who signed the petition to support the call for the UK to host the COP26 climate change summit next year which I presented in the Commons along with a number of other MPs last week. We have entered a joint bid with Italy and expect news soon. Today at the 12th Eco Summit at Worthing College I will be reporting back to all our local ‘Eco-warriors’ about the steps which are being taken to speed up the action to combat climate change and how young people have been at the forefront of this.

At PMQs last week I again raised the subject of fair funding for schools and it is encouraging that all the candidates to take over from Theresa May have highlighted school funding as the number one priority in the Comprehensive Spending Review being carried out this year. A report from the Department for Education last week flagged up that children in coastal areas tend to achieve lower grades than elsewhere meaning that in West Sussex we are effectively doubly disadvantaged given our schools are still funded below average despite the additional money the Government put in last year.

I used the opportunity to raise my idea of establishing a Coastal Schools Challenge Fund building on the success of the London Schools Challenge Fund established in 2003 to close the underachievement gap with London. It is time we recognised that roles have been reversed and we now deserve priority.

I very much enjoyed the excellent programme by celebrity cook Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and his war on the inexorable rise of plastic packaging especially in our supermarkets. I for one will be joining the campaign and returning some unnecessary plastic to local supermarkets with the #ourplasticfeedback hashtag. Anyone want to join me?

On Saturday I will be holding one of my ‘Talk to Tim’ public meetings at All Saints Church Hall in Findon Valley from 3pm for local residents to come and raise any local issues with me, so if you are free do drop in.