Nick's Week

Last Friday I stayed at Westminster to vote for the Bill to secure a referendum on the EU, which I'm pleased to say finally passed its Commons stages and now goes to the Lords.

I then jumped on the train to Pulborough, where I attended a meeting of the Mary How Trust.  I'm honoured to be a Patron of this wonderful local charity, which last year provided cancer screening services for around 1,000 people.

On Saturday, I attended another excellent lunch - my third Christmas meal - at the West Sussex Golf Club.

I also took part in a lively debate on Radio 4's 'The Week in Westminster' about the accountability of Whitehall's mandarins.  You can listen again to this here.

On Tuesday Nicholas Soames and I called a short Commons debate in Westminster Hall on the proposed Mayfield new town between Henfield and Sayers Common.

We strongly object to this completely unsustainable proposal for a commuter town of 25,000 residents.

We gave the developers both barrels and had some strong words for the Government about honouring their pledge on localism, but the Minister at least confirmed that the Government's policy is not to impose new towns.  You can read the Hansard report of the debate on my website.

It was a timely intervention because the Planning Inspector has just sent back Mid-Sussex District Council's plan on the grounds - we think quite wrongly - that they failed to co-operate with neighbouring councils.

It's obvious that the coastal councils like Brighton are trying to push housing up into Mid Sussex, a developers' dream as they could then build on greenfield sites, rather then regenerate brownfield, which is what they should be doing.  It was the developers who were pushing the Planning Inspector.

I'm concerned that we are facing excessive development pressures across rural West Sussex.  Last week Arun District Council moved a step closer towards opting for 500 extra houses at Angmering and 2,000 between Barnham and Eastergate.  I believe these proposals are unsustainable, too, and I am meeting the Council leadership this week to discuss the situation.

I've got a busy day of surgeries in Hassocks and Arundel on Friday, and on Saturday I will be attending the switching on of Christmas lights at Arundel and then I hope at Petworth.

Oh, and I'm looking forward to my fourth Christmas dinner in Arundel on Friday evening!

Christopher N Howarth