TIM LOUGHTON: Memorial bench offers place for reflection

Tim at the unveiling of the new bench on Lancing Beach Green in memory of Wendy Grey
Tim at the unveiling of the new bench on Lancing Beach Green in memory of Wendy Grey

Parliament returned last week after the conference recess and I should think that no one was more relieved to see that behind her than the Prime Minister.

Certainly the newspaper headlines went into overdrive over her Party Conference speech criticising just about everything except what she actually said.

I don’t know about you but if being guilty of having a heavy cold and falling foul of a self-promoting stunt by a comic no one has ever heard of are grounds for resignation the unemployment figures in the country would go through the roof!

The session started with an update on the state of Brexit negotiations about which we have heard an awful lot of rubbish throughout the summer.

The talks are ongoing and we are not privy to all the details but the Prime Minister, in her Florence speech, made a number of generous offers to cut through the log-jam – too generous some might say – but if we need to show greater sense of compromise to ring about a smoother Brexit then so be it.

The ball is in the court of Brussels to come up with things we can do rather than constantly telling us what we can’t. As a frustrated Danish Prime Minister put it, coming to an amicable agreement is not ‘rocket-science’.

Talking of rocket science Sir Peter Bottomley and I spent most of last Friday seeing just how well Worthing is served by our two colleges.

We had an update from Worthing College who have just had their best ever A-level results for the third year running with particularly strong showings from technical subjects like electronics, further mathematics and textiles. In the last two Worthing is now ranked in the top quartile nationally. The college is also doing some particularly innovatory work around mental health strategy for its students – a big problem which the Government needs to do more to address at an earlier age.

It was then on to Northbrook College’s graduation ceremony at the Assembly Hall, which goes from strength to strength after its tie up with City College Brighton to become Northbrook MET. Again the college offers an extraordinary range of qualifications and it was good to see the achievements of some of their most successful alumni on a national stage.

I was really pleased to be asked last Saturday to unveil a new bench on Lancing Beach Green in memory of former Lancing Parish Council chairman, Adur councillor and former owner of Mount Hermon’s Care Home Wendy Gray, who died earlier this year.

Wendy was a great champion for the village, enormously generous to all who worked with her and what is little known is that she ran a refuge for victims of domestic violence at her own expense, long before it was really appreciated for the problem that it had become.

It is entirely appropriate that there is now a memorial to her on the green where others can appreciate the view she enjoyed for so many years and reflect.

If you would like to get in touch with me, please write to me at the House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA, or email me at loughtont@parliament.uk