Last week HDC postponed their vote on the Local Plan. While I appreciate the frustration over the changes to regulations I personally see value in setting out a 30 year “vision” for new settlements. Residents want to know that new developments are as environmentally friendly and sustainable as possible and will have the vital infrastructure required for the long term. Although no decisions are easy the extra work required will give councillors the opportunity to ensure that they are making the best possible choices. The Council has consistently provided a 5 year land supply and I will strongly argue must be given the space required to meet amended regulations.
While Parliament has “risen”, constituency and Government work very much continues. Last week Monday was wall-to-wall zoom calls. On Tuesday I was at the MOD in Bristol to chair a meeting by zoom of many of my European Defence Ministerial colleague and major European manufacturers on one of our important collaborative projects. Whether with European NATO allies or, for example, on warships with our Canadian and Australian friends, working together is good for our Armed Forces, UK industry and the taxpayer but aligning multiple parliamentary and Government sign-offs has its moments!
On Wednesday I led a UK industrial delegation to Poland, meeting their Defence and Economic Ministers. As I wrote for the Polish press that morning, Poland is an important and historic ally and we are keen to help them modernise their defence forces, again assisted by joint working with UK firms.
On Thursday at RAF High Wycombe I opened UK space command. Space Command brings together the vital work the UK undertakes in space including tracking the activity of others. Russia and China have conducted operations up to and including proving their capacity to destroy satellites – which given our dependency on them is a serious concern. Lots of good questions from the media and the inevitable ones about aliens!
Over Friday I attended breakfast with the 4th Horsham Scouts camping at Colgate; held a great discussion at the National Citizens Service in Roffey; visited Horsham Matters to hear about their new role with the Trussell Trust and held “surgery” calls with constituents. On Saturday it was great fun to join the “Shelleython” in the Park; attend a street party in aid of St Catherine’s in Old Millmeads and a fund raiser for Macmillan in Billingshurst. Macmillan were celebrating the branch’s work and in particular Pam Goldsmith’s 25 years of service, a really lovely event for a vital charity. Only last week I was able to rapidly resolve a really important issue for a constituent – but only because Macmillan had flagged it with me, we are hugely grateful for what they do.