Tim Loughton's Parliamentary Newsletter
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Newsletter - November 2016
Dear Constituent

Welcome to the November edition of my constituency newsletter and again apologies for the length of the material to be covered this month. As always please do tell me if there are changes that you would like to see made to make it more relevant to you. I have provided a comprehensive report on the public meeting we held at the Pavilion Theatre Worthing on the work currently underway to find ways of upgrading the A27 through Worthing, Lancing and Shoreham.

It was a full house with around 800 people there and a lot of questions were raised which working with the A27 Working Group we have endeavoured to answer, although this was always something of a holding event as the draft proposals are unlikely to be published before next spring now at which stage there will have to be extensive public consultation. I have provided a link to the A27 section on my website and included as much information there.

The other big local issues continues to be the shambles that is out rail service and again we have had a number of meetings with the Secretary of State for Transport since out last Westminster debate on the problems. The situation was given greater prominence when thousands of football fans were left stranded after a home match at the Amex a couple of Fridays ago when 5 train crews failed to show up causing the inevitable cancellation of trains at crucial times. It is still not clear why this happened and the RMT union have been rather quiet on the subject. However, as I write, I am expecting some helpful developments from the Government very soon.

There will be one more newsletter before the end of the year and I look forward to seeing you at one of the many Christmas events around the constituency. In the meantime if there are any festive events you would like me to help publicise do please let me know.
Best wishes
Tim Loughton MP
Member of Parliament for East Worthing & Shoreham
Surgery Dates

Advice Surgery

Friday 9 December - Lancing

17:00 - 19:00

Friday 23 December - Worthing

17:00 - 19:00

Street Surgery

Southwick Square Street Surgery

Saturday 3 December  - Southwick Square

10:00 - 12:00

(Councillors only)

Shoreham Street Surgery

Saturday 10 December - Shoreham Farmers' Market 

10:00 - 12:00

Lancing Street Surgery

Saturday 17 December - Lancing Children's Centre

10:00 - 12:00

Worthing Street Surgery

Saturday 17 December - Worthing Town Centre

12:15 - 14:00

In Westminster
Brexit and the High Court ruling

There has been a lot of hysteria surrounding this week’s ruling by the High Court that Parliament needs formally to ratify the Government’s intention to trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty in order to start the process of the UK leaving the EU. Is this an attempt by partisan judges to undermine the Brexiteers?

Conversely does the attack by Brexiteers on the judges who took that decision represent an attack on the independence of our judiciary? How very dare the Government to try to tell our independent judges what to do?

Does this mean that Brexit will now be severely delayed, the resulting negotiations be compromised or not happen altogether?

For those remainers welcoming the High Court ruling who previously complained about the uncertainty caused to the markets by the long drawn out referendum debate and confusion over what happens next, won’t this new uncertainty and probable delay spin the damage out even longer?

For my part I can’t get too agitated. I still have no doubt that Brexit will happen and there need not be any delay to the March 2017 deadline for triggering the process that Theresa May has set out. Arguments about whether it will be a hard, soft or squidgy Brexit are not part of this ruling. The judges have made clear simply that the process of triggering Article 50 should be taken by Parliament and is not the preserve of the Prime Minister and the Executive. As we entered the European Community as a result of a Parliamentary Act it is not unreasonable that the process of leaving it should be initiated by a further Parliamentary Act, although in 1972 it had not been affirmed by a referendum.

So if that is what the judges say then let’s get on with it. At least it is British judges saying it and not completely unaccountable ones in the European Court. And frankly if we do have greater confidence in the independence and integrity of the British legal system then we should not challenge the credentials of our judges making these decisions. The attacks on individual judges are disgraceful, whatever we think of their judgements, and it is extraordinary that the Justice Secretary has not reinforced this point publicly and robustly.

I acknowledge that some contend that the High Court judgement is defective as it conflicts with judgements made in 2008 over calls for a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty.

There are some more weighty outstanding constitutional matters to be debated, but they can wait. As for now there is also some dispute as to whether a simple Parliamentary vote of both Houses would suffice. So let’s head off any further grounds for vacillation.

Let’s drop the attempt to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court and thereby cause further delay. Instead, next week the Government should introduce a simple one page Bill which empowers the Government to trigger Article 50.

As with other emergency legislation around terrorism for example its scrutiny could be expedited through both Houses and the March timetable could remain intact and some degree of certainty restored. In addition to the fact that the largest number of voters ever to have voted for an issue in the UK on June 23rd voted us to leave the EU, we now know that in 421 of 574 English and Welsh constituencies there was also a clear majority to leave. Scotland and Northern Ireland overall voted to stay but with varying results across constituencies.

Any MP who voted to hold the Referendum in the first place must now be duty bound to support its decision and put it into effect by voting for a Bill to trigger Article 50. When I campaigned to Leave I made it absolutely clear that I would respect a Remain vote and work to make our continued membership of the EU a success. End of.

The Government was elected on a manifesto to hold a referendum and it honoured that commitment. In the back of the controversial £9.3m taxpayer funded booklet sent to every home in the country the Government clearly stated ‘This is your decision. The Government will implement what you decide.’ Government MPs should be whipped to vote for whatever it now takes to trigger article 50 and if the courts have ruled that it has to be by Parliamentary authority then let’s leave no room for misinterpretation by passing a full blown Act.

Those arguing that the Referendum was ‘advisory’ not ‘mandatory’ are disingenuous. We use the vehicle of a Referendum very rarely, only twice nationally in the last 50 years. It is because Parliament deems that an issue is of such constitutional magnitude that the decision needs to be taken separately and explicitly by the people. In this case there were no strong arguments accepted for turnout thresholds or the like before the result. Indeed the turnout was rather higher than that which elected the Government at the last General Election. Only subsequent to the result have some vociferous remainers questioned the maths, the demographics and most disgracefully the intellectual capability of the majority voting to leave. When the people have spoken as they have, the servants of the people, us the MPs, have a duty to get on with it.

If there are those in the unelected Lords who want to frustrate the will of the electorate who cannot elect or unelect them, then clearly the next referendum needs to be on the future of that end of Parliament. If they are numerous enough to challenge the will of the people and the elected House of Commons and block the Bill then that is the only circumstance in which the Prime Minister will probably have to call a general election. But hopefully it will not come to that and the damage that further delay could bring can be averted.

Many of those hailing this ruling as a great triumph for democracy and a way of influencing hard/soft Brexit or whatever, whilst still claiming the result of the Referendum must be respected, are being the most disingenuous. They see this as a way of putting obstacles in the way of Brexit, sowing doubts that it can ever be achieved, and by making out that it is all too complicated and spinning it out for as long as possible hope that it will run into the sands and never happen. They must be exposed and challenged at all costs.

To those who claim that Parliament must have ample opportunity to debate Brexit we have spoken about little else for the last six months. Wherever you go Brexit crops up on the agenda. When negotiations start, no doubt all sorts of Brexit issues will be tabled for further debate in Parliament. We will spend a great deal of time debating and voting on the Great Repeal Bill and ultimately Parliament may even be faced with choices on certain Leave options at the end of the negotiation process.

But you cannot negotiate by committee, least of all with 27 other players looking you in the eye across the negotiating table. The Government has to be free to play its hand to secure the best deal for Britain outside of the EU without constantly having to look over its shoulder and revealing its cards. By all means take advice from Parliament, from experts and indeed high ranking lawyers, but it is down to Government and the top team appointed to do the deal. Whilst that is a respectable mantra which ministers have blithely trotted out in recent months it would help their case if the Prime Minster did give further details about the likely structure of negotiations, who is doing what and what happens next. I am sure markets and constituents alike, from which ever side of the argument, would appreciate that.

So let’s be clear this ruling is purely about triggering the process of Brexit not what the outcome should look like. Let’s thank the judges for making that clear, not waste any more taxpayers’ money on challenges in the courts, pass a Bill immediately that puts it beyond doubt and get on with the tricky negotiating stuff ahead which results in us leaving the EU. I am sure that is what my constituents want and that is what I am ready and willing to support.

GTR Update

Industrial Relations

The RMT has announced further strike action in December over the Christmas and New Year period; in addition to the 17 days of strike action taken to date with 11 more to go this year.
  • 22nd – 23rd November
  • 6th – 8th December
  • 22nd – 24th December
  • 31st December – 2nd January
GTR have confirmed that 220 conductors – 99 per cent – have signed up to the new On-Board Supervisor (OBS) role and will now take up the new role in January, which focuses exclusively on customer service and moves the operation of closing doors to the driver. A further 222 people will remain in their existing roles as conductors on certain Southern services.

They will be also recruiting a further 100 people to work OBS roles across Southern and Gatwick Express services and an advertising campaign has been launched.

The impact of future RMT strikes will reduce as the process of giving drivers full operational control of trains is completed. OBSs can work more flexibly, GTR are now recruiting more of them and if one is not available at short notice, they can run a train without one being available. 

I was also desperately disappointed to hear that Southern Rail drivers are to stage a series of strikes in the run-up to Christmas, after members of the Aslef union voted for industrial action. They will walkout for 48 hours from December 13, for 24 hours on the 16th and between January 9 and 14.

Meeting with the Transport Secretary

At a recent meeting between the Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling, my Sussex colleagues and me, we discussed the Government's plans to allow rail passengers to claim compensation if their train is more than 15 minutes late under an improved compensation scheme.

Whilst the Government have committed to introducing ‘Delay Repay 15’ within months on Govia Thameslink Railway services, including Southern, we implored the Transport Secretary to speed up the introduction as quickly as possible. 

Once introduced, passengers will be able to claim 25% of the cost of the single fare for delays between 15 and 29 minutes. The existing compensation thresholds will apply for delays from 30 minutes with passengers able to apply for compensation through the train operating company.

We also spoke about the annual fare increase. Any fare increase at this stage would be completely unacceptable for embattled and long-suffering Southern passengers, many of whom live and commute from my constituency. Along with colleagues, I have been urging the Secretary of State to make special provision and freeze fares at the very least since these announcements and preferable announce rebate especially for renewing season ticket holders. 

Passengers have been suffering through delays, cancellations, station skipping, poor customer service and overcrowding on a daily basis for months. Whilst GTR's recent reduced timetable and RMT's official and unofficial strike action have worsened the situation. The situation is appalling for passengers and they read that they will be being paying more for their journeys.

Any increase at this time would be adding insult to injury. Consequently, we asked that ticket prices for GTR customers be at the very least frozen, until normal service resumes. I have previously called for season ticket holders to be offered substantial discounts when they renew their tickets given the significantly reduced and unreliable service they have had to suffer over many months. The normal compensation scheme goes only a little way in recompensing their inconvenience, if available at all.

I hope the Government will heed our calls. 

“On Your Bike!” for The Royal British Legion’s Poppy Appeal

Along with the Director General of The Royal British Legion and over 80 other Members of Parliament, I raced against the clock on an exercise bike to raise money for The Royal British Legion’s annual Poppy Appeal.

The 12 hour bike ride was held from 08:00 to 20:00 in Portcullis House, Parliament and aimed to raise money for the Legion’s national Poppy Appeal.

The bike ride was organised by the Industry and Parliament Trust (IPT) in association with The Royal British Legion and follows on from the successful bike ride held in 2015 (where 77 MPs and Peers cycled a total of 128.8 miles in 12 hours).

MPs were encouraged to donate as they took part, with all of the money raised on the day going to help The Royal British Legion provide lifelong support for the Armed Forces community. The Central Parliament Poppy Appeal is the only charity that can fundraise in Parliament.

I would like to thank the Industry and Parliament Trust and The Royal British Legion for arranging this event. The Royal British Legion provides invaluable support to the Armed Forces community; I am pleased to have been able to support such a worthy cause.

Sikyong of the Tibetan Parliament in Exile visits Parliament

Tibet has suffered greatly and as Chairman of the Parliamentary All Party Tibet Group I took great pleasure in welcoming the Sikyong of the Tibetan Parliament in Exile to Westminster where he addressed MPs and met the Speaker. As the equivalent of the Tibetan Premier the Sikyong represents millions of Tibetans who have been forced to flee their country or who still live their under Chinese oppression, and is an impressive, if relatively powerless, advocate on their behalf.

In an unprecedented move, The Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow, welcomed the Sikyong, Dr Lobsang Sangay, to the House, you can watch him do so here: He was also able to have a meeting with the Speaker, who was very supportive. 

Westminster Hall - Fairer Funding for West Sussex Schools - 02-11-2016
Westminster Hall Debate - Fairer Funding for West Sussex Schools

I took part in a Westminster Hall Debate on fairer funding for West Sussex schools.

As it stands at the moment, the way we fund schools in West Sussex is stuck in the 20th Century. All West Sussex MPs welcomed the Government's manifesto commitment to a 'fairer funding' formula that will benefit our constituencies. Last year's announcement from the Government that this would be going ahead was welcome. However time is running out for the Government to act. News earlier this year that the introduction of the formula will be delayed was a body blow. 

We do not how long it will take to phase in or even what the new formula will mean in cash terms for West Sussex schools. We need additional funds now to plug the gaps in funding. We need the Secretary of State to look more sympathetically on dire funding situation many schools in West Sussex are facing.

You can find the full minutes of the debate here:

Mass petition calling for mixed-sex civil partnerships presented to government

A petition signed by over 70,000 people calling for the extension of civil partnerships to mixed-sex couples has been presented to the government this morning.

Along with supporters of the Equal Civil Partnership Campaign, I presented the petition, containing 71,410 signatures, to the Minister for Women and Equalities Justine Greening. This week the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan also threw his weight behind the campaign in an official letter written to the Equal Civil Partnerships Campaign.

The presentation came two weeks after the government admitted the current ban on mixed-sex civil partnerships could not continue indefinitely but claimed to lack evidence that the extension of civil partnerships would be popular. The claim was made by a government barrister defending the current ban in a court case brought to the High Court by Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan, a London-couple who want to get a civil partnership.

The barrister claimed that the government probably needed five years in order to decide the future of civil partnerships. Many campaigners are concerned that this means they are considering scrapping civil partnerships altogether.

With cross-party support from MPs, I have tabled a Private Members’ Bill that would make a simple change to the wording of the Civil Partnership Act 2004 and thereby allow equal civil partnerships.

The Bill should come in front of the House on 13 January and if the Government were to support us we could be seeing opposite-sex couples getting civilly partnered in the not too distant future.

Westminster Hall Debate - English Wine - 16-11-2016

Westminster Hall Debate - English Wine - 16-11-2016

I've long been a active supporter of the growing English Wine industry. We need to encourage investment in English wine. Setting up a winery in the UK is an expensive business, much more expensive than on the continent where they have a better climate for it. There are no real tax advantages and there is a particular tax disincentive—because of their size, most vineyards will send their grapes somewhere else to be made into wine and so they are not counted as agricultural premises. The tax treatment of the English wine production chain needs to be looked at and restrictions on planting vineyards need to be relaxed.

Only 2,000 hectares of land are under wine production in this country; there are 35,000 in the champagne region in France alone. Up to now, under the EU, we have been restricted from planting new vineyards. Those restrictions have been relaxed until 2030 but technically we are allowed to plant only an additional 1% of vineyards a year—another good reason why we are coming out of Europe as early as possible. That was a very protectionist measure from the days of wine lakes on the continent. We certainly do not have any surplus wine in the UK because it is lapped up as soon as it is produced.

We need some help on planning. We also need some help on duty. This year, wine was the only alcoholic product to receive a duty rise. Duty on wine has gone up considerably over the last 10 years. The duty per average bottle of wine was £1.33 in 2007; it is now £2.08. English wine producers have to pay tax at the same rate as continental wine producers, who can produce it much more cheaply.

Every embassy around the world should be serving, as the normal staple, English wine and sparkling wine. 

You can read the full debate here:

"Stop discrimination against disabled people” says Tim Loughton MP

I visited a Guide Dogs event in Parliament on 16th November to show his support for taxi and minicab drivers receiving disability equality training when getting their licence. A Private Member’s Bill that sought to introduce such training was debated on 18th November but was not voted on due to a lack of time.

At the event, guide dog owners told me how taxi and minicab drivers refused to carry them because they had their guide dog with them. They explained that they had missed important appointments due to the refusals and how it had left them anxious and reluctant to use taxis and minicabs again.

Although the Equality Act 2010 makes it illegal for a taxi or minicab driver to refuse to carry an assistance dog, Guide Dogs research found that 42% of people living with sight loss were turned away by a taxi or minicab in the last year because of their guide dog. The research also uncovered that 38% of assistance dog owners have illegally been asked to pay an extra fare for carrying their dog.

Guide Dogs is calling for disability equality training to be made a requirement for all taxi and minicab drivers to help them understand the rights and needs of disabled people and how to welcome assistance dog owners.

It is shameful to hear from so many people who are illegally turned away from taxis and minicabs because they travel with an assistance dog. I’m asking the Government to act to ensure all taxi and minicab drivers receive disability equality training so they are aware of the law and how to assist their disabled customers in the right way.

Tim Loughton MP backs landmark Homelessness Bill

I have joined colleagues from across the political divide in backing the Homelessness Reduction Bill at its second reading this week (Oct 28), helping to bring the bill one step closer to becoming law.

Proposed by Conservative MP Bob Blackman and supported by homelessness charities including Crisis, the bill could transform the help available to homeless people in the UK. However, if fewer than 100 MPs had attended the debate, the bill could easily have been blocked, making support from MPs critical. 

Homelessness is rising, yet, the law as it stands means that homeless people who approach their council for help can be turned away to sleep on the street. If passed, the new law would help to prevent people from losing their home in the first place and make sure all homeless people can get help when they need it, whilst continuing to protect families with children from homelessness.

The Bill has the backing of the Government, the opposition and the Communities and Local Government Select Committee following an in-depth inquiry.

This is about basic social justice. Nobody should be forced to sleep rough because they can’t get the help they need.

I’ve personally heard from local constituents who were unable to get help when they became homeless. It’s time we took action. We need to make sure that anyone facing homelessness can get help, ideally before they actually lose their home. That’s why I’m backing the Homelessness Reduction Bill put forward by Bob Blackman MP, and I urge my colleagues on both sides of the house to offer their support as it moves through parliament.

During the debate, I raised two particularly absurd situations; first, where people have to wait until the bailiffs arrive to be evicted before they are able to get help from the housing department, which is one of the reasons why private landlords are reluctant on taking housing benefit tenants; second, children in care or those leaving care can be evicted from council owned housing only then for their local council to pick up the bill for looking after them. I was pleased that Bob Blackman was able to confirm that both these areas are dealt with in his Bill.

New data shows huge impact of beer and pubs on East Worthing and Shoreham

The brewing and pub sector makes a huge economic contribution to East Worthing and Shoreham new figures from a study commissioned by the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) show. The sector supports 973 jobs across 41 pubs and provides £22m in value to the local economy.

I attended an event in the House of Commons yesterday where the new figures showing the impact were unveiled by the BBPA. The study was carried out by leading independent analysts, Oxford Economics.

Across the country the sector supports almost 900,000 jobs and adds £23bn in value to the UK economy.

I have been a long-time supporter of the brewing and pub industry and have lobbied past Chancellors and the current incumbent to do everything they can to help this important industry.

I welcome this new research which shows the massive benefit the brewing and pub sector makes to our economy. The industry also plays an important role in our wider culture and our local communities.

WASPI Update
Along with the other officers from the WASPI APPG, I met the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Damain Green MP, to discuss the ongoing concerns of the WASPI women. 

Whilst the Secretary of State was very clear, as the Department for Work and Pensions has been throughout, that the policy will not be in any reversed, he did appreciate the situation some of the women worst affected are in. 

In particular, we raised the issue of women who have been forced to go to the job centre in the hope of finding work. Notwithstanding the gross unfairness of having to do this despite making national insurance contributions for longer than some of the people they are queuing up alongside have been alive, the work they are being offered is completely inappropriate. There are stories of women being offered jobs staking shelves late at night, bar work and other unreasonable recommendations.

The Secretary of State sympathised and said the DWP employed 'Old People Champions' to ensure older people were offered appropriate work. None of us around the table had heard of these 'champions' neither had many of the WASPI women we had spoken to. It transpires the DWP employ a paltry 7 of these 'champions' to cover the entire country. Clearly this is an area we need the DWP to look quickly because if we are not able to introduce transitional changes immediately, which looks likely, then we need to mitigate against the consequences, e.g. women looking for work to see them through the last few years/months of work.

With this in mind, the WASPI APPG are asking for women who have experienced inappropriate job offers from the job centre to tell us their stories so that we can put pressure on the DWP to act now to help those women in most need.

The fight goes on and the APPG have a number of ideas to pressure the Government into action which we shall act on in good time. There will another debate this afternoon and I will put up the link to it as soon as it is available. 
World AIDS Day - “HIV stigma: Not Retro, Just Wrong”

World AIDS Day is on 1 December, and this year I am asking my constituents to join in the fight against HIV stigma.

Although HIV treatment and prevention are so much better than they were 30 years ago, public attitudes have not progressed as far or as fast. Stigma remains an unacceptable blight on the lives of people living with HIV. It negatively affects their lives, and can prevent them from accessing treatment. And it can stop people at risk from getting an HIV test.

Unlike many of the products and styles we love to bring back from the 80s and 90s, stigma is something that should be left in the past. HIV stigma is not retro, it’s just wrong.

I am proud to wear a red ribbon to mark this year's World AIDS Day. I want to send the message that there is no place for HIV stigma in East Worthing and Shoreham.

Stigma often results from lack of knowledge. I am joining forces with the National AIDS Trust to encourage people in East Worthing and Shoreham to visit and find out the facts about HIV.

There are more than 100,000 people living with HIV in the UK. We must do more to prevent stigma from disrupting their lives. Together we can put an end to this senseless prejudice.

Youth Parliament Select Committee report on Young people's mental health
At the end of October I took part in a debate in the House on the findings of the Youth Parliament Select Committee report on Young people's mental health. 

I was delighted that the debate was held for two main reasons. First, this is an important subject. It is something that we are failing on, so it is right, proper and beneficial that we talk about it openly, especially because young people are much more prepared than ever to come forward with their own stories of their problems and issues, hopefully so that solutions can be found through them.

Secondly, it is part of the UK Youth Parliament’s work. It was significant that we gave up mainstream parliamentary time in the main Chamber of the House of Commons to discuss a report by the Youth Select Committee, an offshoot of the UK Youth Parliament.

I am a big supporter of the UK Youth Parliament. It was founded during my time in Parliament, and I always try to attend its annual parliamentary sittings, which are a great spectacle. It is always exceedingly frustrating for MPs when we return on the Monday and the Speaker inevitably says, “Why don’t you lot behave as well as the UK Youth Parliament members who were here on Friday; they are very smart, very concise, very well behaved, don’t heckle and set an example?” It is a shame that the media coverage of the Youth Parliament sitting is not more extensive because it is a great event for a great organisation, and it is great that we are discussing its work today.

Mental health remains the Cinderella service of the NHS. Indeed, the report describes child and adolescent mental health services—CAMHS—as the Cinderella service of a Cinderella service. The whole question of parity of esteem and funding is important. We can have arguments about how much the NHS budget has increased and kept up with inflation, but in every year in which the funding for mental health remains static or, worse still, declines as a portion of the overall NHS budget, we are sending out a clear message that it is a secondary priority within the NHS, and therein lies part of the problem.

You can read the full Hansard of the debate here:
Raising awareness of Marriage Allowance
HMRC is raising awareness of the savings Marriage Allowance can bring to eligible couples across the country. 

Marriage Allowance is a transferable tax allowance for married couples and civil partners to recognise marriage and civil partnerships through the income tax system. The Government launched this in April 2015, and it can help many couples to save over £200 from the tax bill every year. As well as couples with young families, a considerable number of pensioner couples can also benefit from the allowance. 

Individuals who qualify can transfer ten per cent of their personal allowance to their spouse or civil partner. This can reduce their partner's income tax bill bu up to £220 this year, or £432 i couples who were also eligible in 2015-16 backdate their claim. 

Who is eligible?

You can get the Marriage Allowance if all the following criteria apply:
  • you're married or in a civil partnership
  • you don't earn anything or you don't pay tax on your income (for most people that's an income of under £11,000)
  • your partner doesn't pay tax at the higher or additional rate (for most people that's an income of £43,000 or below)
  • you and your partner were born after 6 April 1935. Couple born before 1935 can benefit from the separate Marriage Couples Allowance.
You can apply if you or your partner are currently receiving a pension.

How to Apply

It is easy to apply for Marriage Allowance, the easiest route being through the online application service, which takes less than seven minutes to complete. 

You can apply at:, or alternatively you can apply on the phone by calling HMRC on 0300 200 3300. 
Equitable Life Payment Scheme

I know the progress of the Equitable Life Payment Scheme is of interest to constituents, so I thought I would inform you of its closure and what it has achieved. 

As announced by the then Chancellor in the Summer Budget 2015, the Scheme closed to new claims on 31 December 2015. From the beginning of 2016, the Scheme began the process of winding down and completing all remaining claims. As the majority of these claims have now been paid, the Scheme has published its final progress report, which can be found at

The report gives an outline of the history of the Scheme, details the significant efforts that have been made to trace and pay as many policyholders as possible, and provides a distributional analysis of the payments that the Scheme has made over its four years of operation.

The report gives the final figures compiled by the Scheme, which show that, as at 31 August 2016, the Scheme had issued payments of over £1.12 billion to 932,805 policyholders. This means the Scheme has now issued payments to 90% of eligible policyholders. All the payments issued by the Scheme have been free of tax.

It should be noted that the closure of the Scheme to new claims will not affect the yearly payments made by the Scheme to With-Profits Annuitants, which will continue for the duration of those annuities. The Scheme has written individually to all With-Profits Annuitants to make them aware of this.
In East Worthing and Shoreham
A27 public meeting and update

The meeting at the Pavilion Theatre to give an update on the proposals for upgrading the A27 was packed with standing room only for some of the 800 or so people who packed the hall. The meeting was organised by the A27 Working Group which is chaired by Councillor Tom Wye, and which I sit on along with Sir Peter Bottomley, councillors and representatives from all political parties, local businesses and all the main residents groups along the route of the A27.

There were presentations from Highways England, the Chamber of Commerce and Worthing businessmen, Sir Peter, me and the excellent BBC Sussex traffic expert Stephen Cranford. Frustratingly the project lead from Highway England Peter Phillips was unable to attend at the last minute as his wife had been taken ill on holiday and it is true to say that his replacements from the Agency responsible for the A27 did not handle questions well. Subsequently Cllr Wye offered to provide follow up answers to outstanding questions and those submitted on the forms at the end of the meeting. Some of these have been answered and appear of the A27 section of my website and more will be added, which you can see here:

We have also published all the minutes of meetings of the A27 and the presentations we have been given which include some interesting data. This includes last week’s meeting when we heard from a representative of the South Downs National Park, a Ricardo employee on the impact of traffic on air pollution and Stephen Cranford has done some interesting number crunching on the cost of delays on commercial traffic caused by the Grove Lodge traffic lights which have become a bit of a ‘cause celebre’ and the meeting almost unanimously wanted to see scrapped. This is something I have been calling for over many years and questioned their effectiveness when they were first proposed by the then Highways Agency.

As you can you can see from the figures provided from Stephen on my website, he has calculated that if the Grove Lodge lights delay freight traffic by just ten minutes then based on official figures provided by the Freight Transport Association that costs almost £40,000 per day. That equates to around £1m a month and £120m over the ten years the lights have been in operation a massive £120m which would more than pay for the A27 work now being considered!

Peter Bottomley and I again met Transport Secretary Chris Grayling this week together with Highways England officials and again reinforced the need to increase the amount of money available for the A27 if more effective options were identified which exceeded the indicative budget at this stage. He agreed to look sympathetically at this and will be writing to us further. We also went to town on the need to remove the Grove Lodge lights and find better solutions to keep pedestrians safe whilst improving traffic flow.

Also at the A27 Working Group meeting we heard a presentation from air pollution specialist Nigel Jenkins who produced claims that air pollution is now the second highest public health risk responsible for 40,000 premature deaths across the UK each year. There are 703 ‘Air Quality Management Areas’ or pollution hotspots across England including 15 in West Sussex of which 2 are in Shoreham and one in Worthing on the A27. The air pollution monitoring station near Grove Lodge is to be upgraded to include a measure of dangerous particulate matter where it is a particular problem and obviously exacerbated by idling stationary or slow moving traffic. We asked if it is possible to provide air quality data from Grove Lodge for the period over the summer when the lights were out of action to see if things improved.

Andy Beattie from the South Downs National Park Authority gave a presentation about the impact of roads within the 106 mile long protected stretch from Eastbourne to Winchester. Section 62 of the regulations which govern national parks refers to the features and character of the landscape of the park where roads are regarded as a ‘major adverse’ impact, and there should be new roads only in exceptional circumstances. This goes to the heart of the problems about those people understandably calling for a full bypass to the north of Worthing or a major upgrade of the so-called Long Furlong route. It is certainly not just a case of finding more money although it would probably take at least all of the £1bn extra roads infrastructure money announced by the Government last week as part of the Autumn Statement. For the same reasons the offline bypass route was rejected back in the 1990’s on environmental grounds it now looks even more difficult since national park protective status was added.

Whilst a full bypass would be an attractive solution to easing the congestion on the A27 it is just not on the agenda at the current time which is not to say that it is to be ruled out forever. I know though that if a new road was proposed through the Downs then the Pavilion Theatre could be filled with protesters several times over. That is why those who now seem to want to make this a case of bypass or nothing risk ending up with nothing except growing traffic congestion. That is why the A27 Working Group was formed to try to coalesce around practical options that are on the table and which focus on online solutions, and certainly not to pre-judge any suggestions before they have even been published.

Having said that we have asked Highways England to provide much clearer information and calculations about comparable costings for offline bypass options and why they have been deemed not to be cost-effective and will not be taken forward. I will publish this information on my website along with everything else I have so far and if there are further questions you want answered the I am happy to deal with them too and pass them on to Highways England for a specialist response if appropriate.
Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust 'takes over' Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals

NHS Improvement has today announced that it has asked Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (WSHFT) to help staff at Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals (BSUH) improve the quality, safety and financial sustainability of services there.

BSUH NHS Trust was inspected by CQC earlier this year in June and their Quality Report, which can be seen here:, found BSUH to be Inadequate.The Trust was put into financial special measures after it informed NHSI in October that it was no longer credible to report that it would meet its agreed end-of-year deficit of £15.5m. 

Whilst WSHFT was rated Outstanding by CQC following its inspection in earlier this year June, it can be seen here: WSHFT is one of only five acute trusts in England to be rated Outstanding by the Care Quality Commission and shares similar geographic and demographic pressures as its neighbour BSUH.

The aim of the initiative is to support BSUH to make the improvements needed to emerge successfully from Special Measures on both quality and finance.

The news that Western Sussex Hospitals Trust has been parachuted in to take over management of the failing Brighton Hospital Trust is a real vote of confidence in the management of Worthing, Southlands and St Richard’s Hospitals.

It is hoped that Chief Executive Marianne Griffith and her team can work some of the magic on Brighton that has led Western Sussex to be one of only 5 acute hospital trusts rated ‘outstanding’ in the whole of England.

The longstanding problems with Brighton have been having an increasing knock-on effect on West Sussex and needed sorting out, just so long as Marianne does not take her eye off the ball with keeping Worthing as one of the country’s top hospitals.

NHS England encourages people in East Worthing and Shoreham to Stay Well This Winter

NHS England are today urging local people to get their flu jab and find out more about how they can stay well this winter.

It’s really important that if you are a pensioner, or suffer from a long term condition, or have children between 2 and 7 that you find out about to stay well this winter.

If you have older relatives or elderly neighbours remember to check that they have had a flu jab and keep an eye out for them.

The Stay Well This Winter campaign being run by Public Health England and NHS England aims to raise awareness of the vulnerability of the elderly and those with long-term health conditions at winter among family, friends and carers. Advice includes:
  • If you suffer from a long term health condition such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), an umbrella term used to describe a number of conditions including emphysema and chronic bronchitis; diabetes; heart or kidney disease; are aged 65 or over; or are pregnant, get the free flu vaccine now
  • If you’re a parent of a child aged 2 -7, ensure your child is vaccinated against flu. Children aged 2, 3 and 4 can get the vaccination from their GP. Parents of children in school years 1, 2 and 3 are asked to give permission for their child to receive the free nasal spray vaccination at school
  • Seek immediate advice from your pharmacist at the first sign of winter illnesses, before it gets too serious
  • Heat your home to at least 18°C (65°F), if you can
  • Keep an eye out for elderly relatives and neighbours
For further information about how you and your family can stay well this winter, please visit
The North Lancing Community Association (NLCA) - 10th Anniversary
I was very happy to help the NLCA celebrate their 10 Birthday! A really fantastic achievement and a testament to all their hard work. Here's to the next 10!
You can keep update with the NLCA via their new website:

The NLCA's latest newsletter is available here:

I was also delighted to welcome member of the NLCA to Westminster to show them around the Houses of Parliament. 

Remembrance Day

Remembrance Day and Worthing always pays it respects so well. As I joined the Lord Lieutenant and the Mayor to lay wreaths at the war memorial outside Worthing Town Hall the crowds seemed larger than ever, with a particularly strong representation by young people. I was especially touched as ‘Mr Worthing’ Major Tom Wye read out the names of twelve young Worthing men who had lost their lives in each of the years of both World Wars, most barely out of their teens.

The night before I joined the Mayor, councillors and over a hundred strong audience for the Rotary Club of Worthing’s ‘Young @ Heart’ concert at the Salvation Army Hall. Peter and Virginia Bottomley were amongst the performers as well as music from the Salvation Army band and Wukulele Jam,’ some excellent song and dance routines from the Regnante School of Performing Arts and a monologue from Tony Hill. Some technical hitches with the music meant that I had to step in as compere with some impromptu jokes which I hope didn’t not put too many people off but a good time was had by all and £1340 raised for Rotary’s charities Superstar Arts and West Sussex Young Carers.

Free Wharf development changes go on show

A new public exhibition is being staged to show latest changes to controversial proposals for the Free Wharf site off Brighton Road, Shoreham.

Southern Housing Group (SHG) say that following public comments after their initial plans were published they have made several changes to their ideas for the former Minelco site.

They will show their latest thinking at an exhibition at Sussex Yacht Club on December 1st (2-7pm) and 3rd (10am-2pm).

One of the main concerns expressed over their original proposals was the height of some buildings - blocks of flats as high as 14 storeys. 

Local residents who have demanded that no new buildings in the town should be higher than St Mary's Church will be keen to see if tower heights are among the changes made to the Free Wharf proposals.

More information on SHG's vision for Free Wharf is on their website

Read All About It: The 150-year history of Shoreham Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) Lifeboat Station
The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) has just published a new book on Shoreham Lifeboat Station, which celebrated its 150th Anniversary in 2015.
Written by John Periam and Michelle Tugwell, with the support of past and present crew members; this new publication gives an exciting, and at times nostalgic history about the station’s last 150 years.
From the early days of the horse drawn carriage lifeboats to the current state of the art Tamar lifeboat situated in its purpose built boathouse at Shoreham, you can read about the crews’ exploits both at sea and behind the scenes.
It also covers royal visits, fund-raising, family histories, the history of the different lifeboats station and the many life saving services over the years.
Copies priced £8.95 will be available in the Shoreham Lifeboat Station souvenir shop, which is open Monday to Friday 10am to 2pm and weekends 10am to 4pm and online by going to the station website
All proceeds go to the RNLI.

Shoreham RNLI will also be having their annual Christmas carol service on Thursday 15 December from 7pm at the lifeboat station. There will be mince pies and mulled wine during the interval !
St Mary's Christmas Fair
Bit early for Christmas fairs whilst still wearing poppy but judging the Father Christmas contest at St Mary's in Shoreham kicks off season

Sussex Community Foundation AGM

Fortunately I was not relying on the train to get to Falmer to attend the Annual Meeting of the Sussex Community Foundation at the Amex, after GTR left hundreds of football fans stranded after last week’s Brighton match.

This charity - celebrating its tenth anniversary - has been a real success story bringing together corporate and private donors to raise money for good causes locally.

Last year alone they gave over £1.6m in grants to 332 Sussex charities and community groups promoting the concept that sustainable long term social change comes from within comm unities.

I am also involved with them through the Shoreham Air Show fund which they administer and which has so far distributed to families over two thirds of the near £200,000 raised.

You can find further information at

Aquarena planning consultation extended
On Saturday I joined a group of protesters from the Worthing Society and local Save Our Seafront group still unhappy with Roffey’s proposed 15 storey tower on the old Aquarena site. Whilst it is good that the developers have come up with more imaginative plans for the ground level space this building is still too tall for where it is. We have made sure the public consultation period has been extended to early January and local people can lodge their views online at or at the Town Hall.

The Worthing Society have set up an online petition, which you can sign here:
2017/18 Sussex Police Precept Consultation

The Sussex Police & Crime Commissioner, Katy Bourne, has asked that I include the following: 

Would you like to see over 100 more police officers and staff in Sussex?

One of my responsibilities as Police and Crime Commissioner is to set the overall budget for policing in Sussex. This is mainly funded by the Government’s policing grant and by a part of council tax called the police precept which I am also responsible for setting.
Modernising our police services: Sussex Police has a long term programme to modernise and improve the services they deliver to meet the local policing and security needs of the 21st century. This transformation programme has been acknowledged as ambitious and positive by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary.
Strengthening your local policing: Whilst transformation is under way across all areas of policing and will take time, I want to make sure Sussex residents can see local policing being strengthened now.  
We need the right people, with the right skills in the right place to protect you and fight crime. That is why I support the business plan to invest in 100 new officers and staff in the specialist teams. You can see which areas I propose to support and please give me your feedback here.
How your water company is performing

There is a new website which enables you to see how your water company is performing and compare it to other companies.

The information is on the website, which has a range of data covering water quality, prices, public health, customer service and environmental aspects of water and sewerage services.

DiscoverWater is the first of its kind in Europe. It has been designed to help household customers in England and Wales by bringing together in one place key information about how their water and sewerage services are provided.

DiscoverWater is a collaborative project. Led and funded by water companies, it has been delivered by an independent third party and overseen by a sector-wide group including the sector’s regulators and consumer watchdog.

Winter ready 2016

These infographics explain what the Environment Agency is doing in East Worthing and Shoreham to get ready for winter. 
What you can do to prepare for a flood
Call Floodline 0345 988 1188

Floodline Warnings Direct is a free service provided by the Environment Agency to warn you about flooding. Call Floodline to check your flood risk, sign up to the free flood warning system and receive advice and guidance about what to do before, during, or after a flood.


We have lots of information online and there are three simple steps you can take to be better prepared for flooding:
  1. Check your flood risk
Use the Environment Agency’s flood maps and enter your postcode to find out if your home or business is at risk of flooding. Or call Floodline on 0345 988 1188.
  1. Sign up to Floodline Warnings Direct (FWD)
Sign up for free flood warnings online or call Floodline on 0345 988 1188.
  1. Know what to do when flooding happens
This might include:
  • Make a personal flood plan and know what to do: Personal Flood Plan Online
  • Prepare your business for flooding Business Flood Plan Online
  • Prepare a grab bag with warm clothes, blankets, mobile phone, medication, water and food supplies, a torch, and a battery or wind up radio and important personal documents.
  • Make sure you know how to turn off the gas and electricity supply.
  • Identify a safe place where you, your family and pets can keep away from floodwater.
  • Check your insurance to see if you’re covered.
There is more information on the EA's website:
Welcomes Patient Transport back to NHS Ambulance Provider

I welcomed the decision by Coperforma to step down from its role as patient transport service provider in Sussex and the announcement that South Central Ambulance Service (SCAS) is to take over the contract.

I have been working with MPs from across Sussex on a cross-party basis to enact change and improve the patient service provision in Sussex.

Since 1st April 2016 the Sussex Patient Transport Service (PTS) has been managed by Coperforma. The start of the new contract saw unacceptable levels of performance. There were numerous problems examples of patients unable to make bookings, inappropriate transport showing up, such as vehicles not suitable for wheelchair users, whilst complaints were not managed and handled effectively. There were also issues with patients and health professionals being unable to get through on the phone lines and many patients were collected late or not at all, which lead to missed appointments.

Although High Weald Lewes Havens CCG, which monitors the contact on behalf of the Sussex CCGs, had been working very closely with Coperforma and performance has improved, albeit inconsistently across Sussex, there have been a number of concerns around the sustainability of the service.

Following these concerns, Coperforma have agreed to step down from the contract. In order to minimise disruption, the transfer of the contract will be phased over the next few months and SCAS will take complete control in March 2017.

I have been receiving numerous complaints from constituents who have suffered as a result of Coperforma’s failure to properly manage this contract. I have heard many examples of transport failing to turn up on time, or at all, when it does it often inaccessible, and drivers who do not appear to know where to transport their patients. Many patients failed to get to their appointments at hospital and this caused distress to the vulnerable and difficulties for hospitals and their staff.

This is clearly completely unacceptable given it is dealing with very vulnerable patients and despite the recent improvements, it was clear that Coperforma were not capable of delivering a sustainable and reliable services across Sussex. I therefore welcome their decision to step away from the contract and hand over to SCAS.

I hope we can now move on from this debacle, learn the lessons and see a service delivered that works for all patients in Sussex, ensuring that they are transported promptly and compassionately.

Adur Ferry Bridge Update
Balfour Beatty’s sub-contractor Urban Glass have been on site since Monday replacing the shattered glass parapet panels. Fifteen of the sixteen panels have been replaced with no problems but unfortunately one of the panels failed during installation so they will be producing another which they plan to install by Wednesday of next week. 
WSCC have apologised for not organising a meeting as planned to discuss any sources of funding for the improved CCTV coverage. Shoreham Port have intimated that they may be willing to offer some funding but want to know where the rest of the funding will come from before they commit to anything.
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