Herald Column: March 28th

Last week I put out a call for nominations for the NHS Achievement Awards and thank you to those who have responded so far. This week I am after Indian restaurants with the launch of this year’s ‘Tiffin Cup.’ MPs are being asked to nominate the most popular South Asian restaurants in our constituencies so I am asking for your suggestions. Previous years have seen local eateries in East Worthing & Adur win highly commended awards and it would be good to get the top pace this year so get nominating. Entries close on April 18th.

The highlight on Friday was the official opening of the Adur Tidal Walls Scheme, the £30m project to keep Shoreham residents safe and dry from rising water levels. Head of the Environment Agency Sir James Bevan returned to Shoreham to perform the official opening having been here a couple of years earlier at the formal launch together with then Environment Secretary Andrea Leadsom. I was pleased for the opportunity to add my thanks for this serious investment in the Shoreham environment and particularly to pay tribute to local EA head James Humphreys who has been so personally invested in the project.

Clearly there have been problems along the way and residents have put up with a lot of inconvenience but the final result has rewarded everyone’s patience and I think overall they have done a good job. We had a further meeting with James Humphreys and local councillors earlier this month to sort out the few remaining ‘snagging issues’ but in the great scheme of things it could have been a lot more hassle for such a vast scheme. I particularly like the way they have used attractive glass balustrades and local materials like flints in the brickwork rather than one big and functional concrete wall.

After the official ceremony I paid my second visit to Worthing’s mosque this month but this time in tragic circumstances after the brutal terrorist attack on the mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. New Zealand may be one of the furthest countries from the UK but I know local people wanted to stand side by side with our New Zealand cousins to show our solidarity at this difficult time. I sat in on a crowded prayers and a very thoughtful and conciliatory sermon by the imam Idris before joining those local councillors and residents who had turned up outside with their placards proclaiming ‘Muslims welcome here.’  It was good to see such a positive response from my constituents. Terrorism needs to be called out for the evil it is wherever it is and whoever commits it.