i-Rock Horsham District
One of the most uplifting moments of the year so far was attending the official opening of i-Rock Horsham District.
I have campaigned for i-Rock ever since local young people said they wanted a space away from home and school to provide them and their friends with walk in support and advice.
I was delighted to arrange for Dr Alex George, a well-known TV personality, to join the opening to help boost i-Rock’s profile. You can watch what Dr Alex had to say about i-Rock here.
The team at i-Rock provide support and advice to young people aged 14-25 living in West Sussex and is located in the Hurst Café on Hurst Road. You can watch what Elle, the manager at i-Rock had to say about the service here.
Making Our Streets Safer
A real concern amongst local residents this year has been an increase in anti-social behaviour in Horsham town centre. It is vitally important that we all feel safe both in town centre and in our own neighbourhoods.
In February I held a meeting with Katy Bourne, the Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner (SPCC), our local District Commander, Horsham District Council (HDC) and representatives from our local licensee community.
As a result of the meeting, I launched a survey asking residents for their personal experiences of ASB in the area. Over 1,000 people responded and the results helped me to push for better resourcing for our area.
I followed this up with a meeting with the Chief Constable of Sussex Police and a further meeting with the SPCC, HDC, representatives from the local licensee community and our local police team which included the new Inspector for Horsham. I was pleased to hear that the Inspector has established a new dedicated Horsham Town Police Team which will mean that the town centre receives proper focus.
Alongside the concerns around ASB, residents living in Kilnwood Vale raised concerns about large scale car meet ups and racing in the vicinity of the development. I arranged a public meeting with residents and the Chief Inspector responsible for tackling car meet ups. The police’s action was praised by residents and I am pleased that I have not received any further reports of car meet ups on this scale but I will be following this up with Kilnwood Vale residents in the next few weeks.
Southern Water Outage
Back in May, large parts of the Horsham District were affected by a water outage. My immediate focus was on ensuring that Southern Water fixed the issue as quickly as possible and that vulnerable customers received deliveries of bottled water.
Once the incident had been resolved, I launched a survey on residents’ experiences to show Southern Water where they performed well and where they need to make improvements. Over 300 people responded to the survey and I presented the results in a meeting with the Chief Executive of Southern Water.
At the beginning of this month I met with Southern Water again to discuss their report into the outage. They are investing a significant amount of money into Hardham reservoir (where the outage occurred) to make sure it is resilient for the future.
Prior to the outage at the beginning of the year, I joined my fellow Sussex MPs to meet Southern Water to hear about their plans to improve their environmental performance. I followed this up with a visit to their Horsham Wastewater Treatment Plant and am due to visit Hardham reservoir later in the year.
Supporting Local Businesses
Earlier in the year I held a roundtable discussion with local businesses in Billingshurst and Southwater – a really positive meeting in which a range of issues came up, including sustainability. I later held a roundtable with small businesses in Horsham where issues discussed included measures announced in the Spring Budget and how to support footfall in the town centre.
I am pleased that the Brexit Pubs Guarantee announced in the Budget will support pubs like The Star in Roffey – who I visited after completed refurbishment work – by ensuring that draught duty will always be less than duty in supermarkets.
I was delighted to visit The Milk Churn in Rudgwick after the hard work of their team was recognised in winning the Southeast Regional Title in the Local Food/Drink Category of The Countryside Alliance Awards following local nominations.
Our area also has a huge variety of flourishing local drinks producers. This year I have visited Firebird Brewery in Rudgwick; Trenchmore Farm (the team behind ‘Silly Moo Cider’); and JB Cider in Maplehurst. We are fortunate to live in the heart of England’s award-winning wine region and I was pleased to visit Kinsbrook Vineyard and House Coren earlier in the year – two family-run vineyards producing fabulous wines.
Our Local Schools
One of the things I most enjoy doing as the MP for Horsham is visiting our local schools and answering questions from our local young people. All questions are allowed but the younger students often ask if I ever met Her Late Majesty The Queen!
I also visited the excellent Queen Elizabeth II School on Comptons Lane. I was delighted to see the work they have done on their existing site and also incredibly pleased to hear about their exciting plans to expand. I have offered the School all my support in helping to ensure they have expanded on to their satellite site in time.
Over this month young people have been receiving their A Level and GCSE results. We have had an excellent batch of results at our local secondary schools and sixth form colleges and I would like to pass on my congratulations to all students and teaching staff.
In March this year, children received their secondary school allocations. I am pleased that the majority of parents either received an allocation for a local secondary school either initially or after appeal. I am determined that unless parents opt to go elsewhere school places must be available in our local area to educate local children. I remain in active dialogue with West Sussex County Council on this point.
Our Local NHS
Earlier this year our NHS celebrated its 75th Anniversary. It remains a challenging time for our NHS who continue to experience the aftershocks of the pandemic. A particular concern amongst residents is the ability to access GP appointments. I have visited a number of GP practices across the constituency including Ouse Valley Practice and Holbrook Surgery.
I have also had a number of meetings with the Sussex NHS Integrated Care Board, the NHS body responsible for GP services locally. The ICB have been conducting an audit of all GP practices in Sussex to establish which practices are performing well and which need more support. I am very supportive of this audit and to ensure that best practice spread amongst our local GP practices.
A real concern this year has been NHS dental services. I know it is incredibly difficult for local residents to find local dental practices that are taking on NHS patients. I have met with local dentists and the ICB on this very point and have requested a meeting with the Minister responsible to further discuss the local challenges.
Next month I will be launching an NHS survey, asking for residents to share with me their experiences and thoughts of our local NHS. It will cover GP services, 999 and 111 waiting times, A&E and much more. I will be back in touch when the survey is live and would encourage as many people as possible to respond to the survey so that I can push for better support locally.