Apologies for the absence of my column last week. With all the drama of the last day before prorogation and a lively 2am finish in the Commons I completely forgot my deadlines. Amidst all the drama on a day when Parliament did not acquit itself well, and an hour and a half of valuable debating time apparently so vital to add to the 500 hours we have already expended on debating Brexit was wasted on indulgent fawning over the retiring Speaker, there was at least some welcome relief. Sompting WI came to Parliament.
It was a pleasure to host a group of ladies from Sompting to show them round the Palace and on such an historic day too. Recently I had great fun attending a centenary birthday lunch for the Lancing WI at the Parish Hall but Sompting is even older in their 101st year. I always enjoy taking groups of constituents round and having repeated the offer in my constituency newspaper currently being delivered I am being inundated with requests, so it looks like my future career as a tour guide is assured. We will try to fit everyone in.
As I have said before when Parliament is not sitting most MPs take the opportunity to catch up on constituency visits and meetings we have missed out on whilst ‘confined to barracks’ at Westminster. It was good therefore to meet up with West Sussex Healthwatch who are the voice of patients in the NHS and who have welcomed my new mental health website to which I have added details of important consultations on local services currently seeking your views.
I also met the new Assistant Chief Constable of Sussex responsible for community policing who has just moved over from Kent with 27 years of policing experience. The 100 new PCSOs are currently being allocated across Sussex and further recruitment is under way to take the number up to 296 so we should soon be seeing more uniforms treading the streets.
With Peter Bottomley I also visited Worthing College again for an update from Principal Paul Riley particularly on the merger with Chichester College and it was a pleasure to meet the Principal there Shelagh Legrave. Worthing produced another set of excellent results this year particularly in maths and sciences and the newly enlarged Sussex group should be an educational force to reckon with so it was good to see the additional £400m of funds allocated in the spending review to 16-19 education.
On Monday I called into our brilliant local hospice St Barnabas where I am very proud to be a patron. It was an opportunity to meet the new Chief Executive Rosemarie Finley who joins St Barnabas from Buckingham and a career in the NHS and voluntary sector. She has a hard act to follow in Hugh Lowson but clearly has some exciting ambitions for St Barnabas and Chestnut Tree and has already hit the ground running. Welcome to all the newcomers who can only further strengthen the excellent institutions we have across Adur and Worthing