Spring, finally, appears to have arrived! It is so good to see people out in Horsham looking much happier and I hope everyone was able to enjoy what I hope will be the last bank holiday weekend subject to remaining restrictions.
Last week marked English Tourism Week. I am keen to see aviation, a vital local employer, up on its feet again but I know that this year many will be choosing ‘staycations’ here in the UK - and the weekend weather was a great incentive.
Closer to home there are plenty of local tourist attractions. On the very western edge of my constituency is part of the Wey and Arun canal where the Canal Trust have been able to resume their boat trips. Other attractions include fabulous gardens, among them Leonardslee, Nymans and Wakehurst Place. Last month Alistair Buchanan who did much to recreate Nymans died and his obituary reminded us how grateful we should be for his determined work: his was a tremendous lesson in perseverance after he led the Gardens’ fight back following the devastating 1987 storm. Also close at hand and in popular this week are of course the South Downs National Park and the beach!
Meanwhile our brilliant vaccine roll-out locally (over a million have now been vaccinated in Sussex) mirrors the national success. The proportion of people choosing to be inoculated continues to be extremely high - protecting individuals and, through reduced transmissibility, their friends and neighbours.
Current ONS data shows the overall numbers of Covid infections nationally to be very low (under 1 in 1,000) and it was very welcome this week to have a day without a single fatality recorded.
However unlocking inevitably risks an uptick in case numbers as more people mix and this is combined in certain areas with the “Delta” variant first identified in India which appears to be more contagious. Everyone, I know, is very focussed on the 21st June. A decision will be taken on further unlocking, in the light of evidence, on 14th June. However for now we remain subject to restrictions and caution continues to be justified.
One of many organisations practicing a cautious unlocking is Horsham’s Springboard Project who provide inclusive play for all children as well as activities for young people with disabilities. They had continued on line (including 70 youngsters joining a virtual trip to Chessington Zoo!) but were delighted to physically reopen. It was great to visit them again this week. They are looking forward to increasing numbers and resuming the fund raising which supports their hugely appreciated work.