My Week 05/07/2017
This week I met rail union leaders to discuss their industrial action on Southern before speaking in a Commons debate on the service.
The RMT admitted that over 97 per cent of Southern trains are still running with a second safety qualified person on board. They’re just not opening the doors. As I said in my article last week, the unions’ industrial action is indefensible.
In the Commons I repeated my call for further rail investment to upgrade the infrastructure to keep pace with rising demand.
We also need to upgrade roads infrastructure, a point I made in another Commons debate this week. I repeated the strong case for an Arundel bypass, and was pleased that the Roads Minister confirmed that a public consultation on the routes will be launched this year.
The £100-250 million scheme remains in the Government’s roads programme, with work due to start by the end of March 2020.
Also this week I intervened in a debate about neighbourhood planning and once again warned that public support for the plans is undermined if developers are allowed to ignore them.
The Government announced a strengthening of the protection for neighbourhood plans back in March, after I raised concerns, although developers are now challenging some of these measures.
Another problem is when a district council wants to allocate ‘strategic sites’ for housing even where these are not in a village’s neighbourhood plan.
I have just raised my concerns about this with Arun District Council, as there are planning applications for a large number of houses in Angmering even though the sites are not in the neighbourhood plan.
I’ve argued that neighbourhood plans really should be upheld, especially where they've been voted through in a local referendum. The problem in Arun - as elsewhere in West Sussex - is that the District Council says that it needs more sites for development in its draft plan to meet housing need, and that this will require revisiting neighbourhood plans.
Also this week I attended a Which? event about broadband speeds, an issue of concern in rural West Sussex. On Friday I’ll be holding constituency meetings, including visiting Avtrade, a leading global component service provider to the aviation industry based at Sayers Common.
On Friday evening I’ll be attending a fashion show as part of the 50th anniversary of Thakeham’s Festival, and I will also drop into Arundel Museum’s summer fete on Saturday. I also hope to get to see some cricket at the Arundel Castle ground!