Herald column September 13th 2018

Many thanks to all those who came to my Pensioners’ Fair on Friday and thank you to the landlords of the Montague Quarter for allowing us the use of this excellent venue. I was last there when opening the pop-up art exhibition which made good use of the former shop over the summer and it would be good to have more temporary events like this until these former shops are developed.

We had over 20 different organisations and a constant stream of local people throughout the morning and many leaflets, free pens, sweets, stress balls and much advice was dispensed. Everyone from University of the 3rd Age (U3A) to Citizen’s Advice, the Stroke Association and WASPI were there with helpful information and support with our senior citizens along with the Adur Chair Councillor Joss Loader and Mayor Paul Baker who kindly dropped by. You can find some photos and a full list and contacts of all those who took part on my website.

Earlier in the summer I arranged a series of roundtable meetings with chairs of governors from all the schools across my constituency. I requested from them specific details of the impact that funding constraints are having on the offer in their schools and I am grateful for those who responded. As a result I have now collated a detailed breakdown of the pressures that we are facing locally and written to the Education Secretary Damian Hinds asking for his recognition and response to the challenges ahead particularly in West Sussex.

Despite the additional £28m we were granted by the Government last year a lot of costs coming through will eat into that additional money. Whilst the 3.5% pay increase for teachers announced by the Government was very welcome, the first 1% of that still has to be found by schools and with salary costs representing as much of 90% of the total budget in some schools that is still a large sum to find. Together with my fellow West Sussex Conservative MPs we have been working on this issue for some time and working with individual heads, governors and parents though it is disappointing that the ‘Worthless’ campaign has become so politicised. We have requested a further debate I Parliament and I will be publishing all my correspondence on my website and Facebook page.

Finally a reminder that we have a drop-in exhibition of the new plans for the Howard Kent site on Brighton Road at the Southwick Barn Theatre from 4-7pm this Friday followed by a meeting when you can question the architects and developers.