Review of the Year

2012 has been a year to remember with the Diamond Jubilee and of course the Olympics.  From the moment that the torch came to Arundel and attracted such a large crowd, including hundreds of enthusiastic schoolchildren, I knew that the Olympics were going to take off.

Watching the BBC's Sports Personality of the Year Awards last week was a reminder of Britain's fantastic success, not just in winning so many medals but in staging a brilliant games.

As The Queen said in her Christmas message, it really has been a "splendid summer of sport."  But of course it was also a special summer because we were able to celebrate The Queen's 60 years on the throne and her tireless service to the country.

It was a particular privilege for me to be present in Westminster Hall when The Queen came to address Parliament to mark the occasion.

The community spirit during the Jubilee and the Olympics was uplifting, as people came together and volunteers gave so much to make the Games a success.

That spirit is something we know about in the South Downs, and as ever it was nothing but a pleasure for me to to visit villages and attend community events throughout the year.

As I've met local people, a few issues arose which needed further action.  After meeting constituents in one of my surgeries in Henfield, I decided to hold a local 'summit' meeting on the problems faced by parents with autistic children.

In our South Downs villages planning and housing issues are usually high on the agenda.  After hearing from local parish councils about the problems of inadequate sewerage systems and flooding, I held another local meeting to discuss the concerns with councils and agencies, and then raised the matter in the Commons.

The current deluge has only reinforced these concerns!

In November the first Police and Crime Commissioner for Sussex, Katy Bourne, was elected.  Having taken the Bill that created these new posts through the Commons, I'm looking forward to seeing the new Commissioners prove themselves and give local people a voice.

So, after another busy year, I'm looking forward to 2013.  Next week I will write about some of the national and local issues that may feature in our lives in the year ahead.

But in the meantime, I wish all my constituents a very happy Christmas.

Christopher N Howarth