Nick's Week

There's so much that I could write about this week.  The Government's climbdown on withdrawing NHS treatment from people who pay for their own drugs was hugely significant, and affects many of my constituents, but raises real issues about whether we have now accepted the principle of a two-tier health service - one for those who can pay, one for the majority who can't.  This debate won't go away.

We also had the unwelcome announcement that Ford eco-town is still on the shortlist, in spite of the strongest local objections and a string of obstacles which the Government itself listed!

But it's the international event of Barack Obama's election that has gripped the world.  I've been watching the elections closely since I was in the US in September, and now we wait to see how the promised "change" will affect us.

One interesting feature of the elections was that the economy was clearly a huge issue, as it is here, but crime didn't really feature - not least because it's fallen rapidly in the US (although violent crime is back on the rise).  By contrast, law and order remains a leading concern in Britain.

Even in West Sussex, with relatively low crime and quiet communities, antisocial behaviour is a concern in some of our villages.

That's why Francis Maude and I called a roundtable meeting last week to discuss the problem with local representatives of Billingshurst, Southwater, Storrington and Pulborough, together with councillors, officials and the police.

The meeting was constructive, but I think the best moment was when a teenage youth told us a simple truth - visible policing, with uniformed officers on the streets, makes the most powerful difference in deterring yobs and leaving the public feel safer.

So while the young President-elect stormed America, our own young voice in West Sussex rallied our communities.  I hope the local police, who were responding very positively, will take note.  This was change you can believe in.

Michelle Taylor