My Week 21/01/2016

It is the north of England that suffered flooding over Christmas, but the events should prompt us to review flood defences in our own area.

This has been underlined by the awful experience of some Arundel residents, who ten days ago saw their properties collapse into the river, which in turn endangered the town’s flood defences.

Last weekend I met the owners of these properties to offer my help and support, and separately I met a group of farmers in the Arun valley who are concerned about future drainage arrangements and Environment Agency proposals.

I believe we need to look again at the flood defence plans throughout my constituency, so I am proposing to convene a meeting of interested parties to discuss what’s needed.

In a Commons debate last week I raised the issue on behalf of a constituent of online retail companies who are evading VAT, which is very unfair on taxpaying businesses who are playing by the rules.

MPs have been active on fair schools funding for West Sussex.  We have secured the Education Minister’s agreement to meet us again, this time with a delegation of head teachers, to discuss their request for interim funding ahead of the new national funding formula which we have won.

Planning as ever remains a local concern, and as well as discussing planning issues with Pulborough Parish Council I am also pleased to announce that the Planning Minister, following my request, has ‘called in’ an development application at Fontwell which cuts across a neighbourhood plan.

I also discussed the ongoing lack of a post office at Pulborough, which is a real problem for the village and especially for Lower Street, and agreed to raise this once again with the Post Office.

I also recently convened a meeting in Henfield to discuss local pharmacy provision and the need to improve the service offered by Lloyds.

This week MPs met Network Rail and Govia Thameslink to express our anger about local services and to demand improvements.

I continue to press for broadband improvements, and have been pressing the case for a review to consider whether BT and Openreach should be separated.

So it’s been a very busy start to the New Year, but I’ll continue whatever I can to support local communities and get these problems sorted out.