My Week 05/11/2015

Last Friday I met with both Henfield and West Grinstead parish councils to discuss concerns about development.  These meetings were very useful ahead of the Second Reading debate on the Housing and Planning Bill on Monday, in which I spoke.

I said that the Government appeared to have a split personality on planning: while Dr Jeckell promised localism, promoting good policies like neighbourhood planning, Mr Hyde tended to overrule local decisions through mechanisms like the Planning Inspectorate.

 I said that neighbourhood planning was proving successful, as I believe we are beginning to see in our villages, and I urged Ministers to keep faith with localism.

This week I am meeting with fellow MPs and campaigners in the Gatwick Co-ordination Group.  We will be discussing the Government’s forthcoming announcement on where to build a new runway.

Despite the unequivocal recommendation of the independent Airports Commission in favour of Heathrow, doubt remains over what the Government’s decision will be.

Sussex MPs are also meeting the Home Secretary this week to discuss police funding.  We are concerned that a proposed redistribution of grant will see our force lose out to others which are far better funded.

On Thursday I will again be raising the issue of fair funding, this time in a Commons debate on schools funding.  The Government is committed to make the system fairer to counties like West Sussex which lose out.

Following a recent meeting with the Education Secretary, Nicky Morgan, I am hopeful that the Chancellor’s Spending Review, announced later this month, will see some progress for us.

Also this week I attended the inaugural meeting of a new All Party Parliamentary Group on Endangered Species, reflecting my longstanding interest in international wildlife conservation.

I also attended a reception at the Commons held by the group representing Equitable Life policyholders.  Many of my constituents who held these policies have still not been properly compensated for their losses.

I have another busy day of surgeries on Friday, including meeting Henfield’s GPs and visiting Rydon School in Storrington.

In the evening I will be attending a dinner in Arundel at which I’ve invited the Energy & Climate Change Secretary, Amber Rudd MP, to speak.  I have a sneaking suspicion that the issue of fracking may come up!