Community figures from across Adur, Worthing and Arun stand in solidarity with Manchester in the wake of last night’s attack (Tuesday, May 23).
Police say 22 people died and scores were injured when a man is believed to have detonated an explosive device at the Manchester Arena at the end of an Ariana Grande concert.
Political campaigning across the area has been suspended, leading to the cancellation of hustings events, while flags outside civic buildings are flying at half-mast.
Arun District Council leader Gill Brown said: “The terrorist attack in Manchester last night is deplorable.
“On behalf of residents and councillors of Arun district we would like to extend our deepest sympathy to all those affected by this atrocity, in particular the loved ones of those that have died. We urge people to come together and stand united against an act that was intended to terrorize and destroy.”
Worthing mayor Alex Harman said his thoughts were with everyone affected and confirmed flags outside Worthing Town Hall were at half-mast as a mark of respect.
Worthing Borough Council leader Dan Humphreys, meanwhile, offered his ‘deepest sympathies’ to the victims, families and all those caught-up in the ‘horrific’ attack.
Political events, including a hustings at Worthing College and student youth matters debate at the Angmering School, were suspended.
Tim Loughton, Conservative parliamentary candidate for East Worthing and Shoreham, tweeted: “Targeting families and children in Manchester is sickening and depraved and can only make our society more united.
“It is the defiance and humanity of local people rushing to help that will be remembered long after the terrorists have been defeated. As a mark of respect for the victims of the Manchester attack there will be no election campaigning by us in East Worthing and Shoreham today.”
Worthing West parliamentary candidate Sir Peter Bottomley joined dignitaries at a church service to remember murdered MP Jo Cox, who died a year ago on Sunday.
Sir Peter served in Northern Ireland as a government minister. He has faced terrorism and said he had sad experience of mass death.
He says: “It is right that general election campaigning has been halted.
“This comes two days after the pause in memory of the Labour MP Jo Cox who was killed a year ago during the EU referendum.
“During that pause, I joined the Worthing Mayor, councillors and public officials in church.
“The person or the people involved in the Manchester murders expected us to become a divided community.
“The Bishop of Manchester said this morning that together we can support each other.
“The Bishop said ‘Love Wins’. People in and around Worthing will agree. I do.”
Bognor Regis and Littlehampton Labour Party branch paid its tributes to emergency services staff for their ‘bravery and professionalism’. It said it was ‘horrified by the horrendous events’.
Adur and Worthing Police sent their ‘heartfelt condolences’ and said their thoughts were with police colleagues dealing with the aftermath of the blast.
Adur District Council leader Neil Parkin said he was ‘horrified and disgusted’.
“My wife and daughter have been to gigs like that in London, which have a similar audience,” he said.
“I have had some very nice messages of support from friends in America, offering their prayers.
“It could have been anywhere. It was barbaric.”