My Week

The Chancellor had more good news for West Sussex in his Autumn Statement last week, with significant funding for flood defence schemes, including an important one in Arundel, which will give 140 homes better protection in the future.

He also announced a £1.5 million capital grant for the Kent, Surrey and Sussex Air Ambulance, and air ambulance charity expenditure will now be exempt from from VAT.

In the case of our air ambulance this will release about £100,000 a year directly to frontline services and equates to over 30 life-saving missions of the 1,800 that the charity undertakes annually.

The Kent, Surrey and Sussex Air Ambulance provides a vital and much appreciated service in the county.  It celebrates its 25th anniversary next year, and became the first air ambulance service in the country to operate a 24 hour Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) last September.

It still needs to raise over £6 million a year from generous voluntary donations, but this support from the Exchequer will certainly help.

This week I spoke in a debate on the Infrastructure Bill in the Commons to raise local issues about planning and fracking, and on Thursday I will be joining the West Sussex Rail Users Association, as their new President, for their Christmas lunch.

I am meeting Network Rail next week and the Rail Minister early in the New Year to discuss my proposal for an 'Arundel Chord' and local rail services.

On Thursday evening I will be attending a graduation ceremony in Walberton for the National Citizens Service, and am looking forward to hearing about this great initiative.

On Friday I will holding surgeries and meetings in Cowfold and Henfield, and will then be meeting the Chief Executive of the Western Sussex Hospitals Trust at Worthing Hospital.

I fought hard for Accident & Emergency Services in our local hospitals when they were threatened with downgrading, and will watch carefully to ensure they are protected.

In the evening I will be attending my last local Christmas party, in Walberton, and on Saturday I will be walking off the turkey by campaigning in Saltdean and then Seaford.

On Monday I will be appearing on the BBC's Daily Politics programme to talk about my new book, 'Why Vote Conservative 2015', along with the authors of the other books in the series urging votes for different parties.  It should be an interesting discussion!

Christopher N Howarth