My Week 30/11/2016

Last Friday I attended a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Pulbrough & District Community Care Association.

The group is one of the strongest of its kind in West Sussex and indeed the whole country, providing a range of invaluable services to the local community, including the local minibus.

Run entirely by volunteers, it was once - very appropriately - known as the “good neighbours” group.  I was delighted to join the anniversary of the Association and to be able to thank the volunteers for everything that they do.

On Saturday morning I addressed another great local group, the Amberley Village Breakfast.  This brings together villagers once a quarter over a hearty cooked breakfast to hear a guest speaker and receive updates from councillors and others about local issues.

It’s a terrific institution, run by Susan-Ann Dowle, and really should be replicated in every South Downs village.

I then held my local surgery in Arundel, where the issue of the rail service was raised.  I believe the strike action by the drivers’ union, ASLEF, is totally unjustifiable.

The union has already accepted the introduction of driver-only operated doors on the Brighton mainline, and 60 per cent of GTR’s trains are already operated this way.

It is perfectly safe, and there will be no job losses or pay cuts as a result of the changes.  The ASLEF strike, on top of the RMT’s, is further evidence of a cynical and totally political action which is deeply unfair to long suffering commuters.

I then held a meeting with One Arundel, the new group campaigning for an Arundel bypass, before I met the Roads Minister this week to discuss the issues.

The bypass routes will be published for formal consultation next summer, with decisions being made by 2020 for a start date of 2021 and work complete by 2023.

I continue to believe that an offline bypass on the original ‘pink-blue’ route is the best option, and that we should build a beautiful new road bridge over the River Arun as befits the landscape.

This week I also met the Housing & Planning Minister to discuss my proposed amendments to protect neighbourhood plans, and on Thursday I will be attending the Mid Sussex District Plan Examination Hearing alongside Sir Nicholas Soames, MP for Mid Sussex.

I will be attending lots of events this weekend, including switching on the Christmas lights in Arundel and Partridge Green on Saturday.

Nick Herbert