It was good to be back at the Worthing & Adur Chamber of Commerce Better Business Show, held this year at the Worthing Leisure last week, and in person. It is still an odd sensation meeting people face to face you have not seen in 3D for over 18 months in many cases, but this was a great opportunity for businesses to do some much-needed networking and share lockdown experiences. There was a great buzz in the room and it was really encouraging to see so many of our local companies in a pretty good shape after everything we have been through.
Another visit this week where there was certainly a buzz literally and where a Zoom call would just not be the same was with fellow members of the Conservative Environment Network to the Knepp Castle rewilding project near Horsham. It was my first visit and the transformation that Isabella Tree and her husband Charlie Burrell have brought to this 3500-acre estate over the last 20 years is incredible.
Yomping through naturally overgrown fields where arable crops were once intensively farmed, coming face to face with free-running pigs and longhorn cattle appearing out of a bush, is a great example of how biodiversity can let rip. It was particularly gratifying to see some of the 43 colony of storks soaring majestically overhead too. It was a fascinating experience but the big question is how far rewilding can be upscaled to sit alongside traditional agriculture producing quality food more productively whilst enhancing the environment. That is why the Environment Bill currently going through Parliament and measures to recycle our Common Agricultural Policy subsidies into environmental goods are so important and this was a very useful fact-finding trip.
A bumper edition of my constituency e-newsletter is out this week and I would particularly urge constituents to look at the link to the Red Balloon School that this excellent charity is proposing to set up in Worthing, and a video interview with one of the backers, Rachel. Red balloon is a fantastic charity that runs alternative provision schools for secondary school age young people unable to benefit from mainstream school due to problems with mental illness, bullying and such like. We are lucky that a local benefactor has made it possible to have the newest addition to their family of schools in our town and there are various ways that I hope local people will give their support.
The Lancing Country market is back on Saturday and I will be there with local councillors for our street surgery from 10am. See you there.