TIM LOUGHTON: Happy Christmas to all
It is not often that you get to play both two great Parliamentarians, William Wilberforce and William Pitt the Younger, at the same time and in the House of Commons chamber.
Last week, after close of business on Thursday, I was invited to take part in a series of recordings of debates from the 18th and 19th centuries as part of an exercise to mark the centenary of women gaining the vote next year. We reconstructed an historic debate on the abolition of slavery with House of Commons staff filling the backbenches to recreate the background noise of cheering and heckling. Except 200 years ago the most common form of heckling was apparently making farmyard animal noises and we found some excellent practitioners. Who knew? PMQ’s today seems quite restrained by comparison!
The Adur Local Plan was finally approved last Thursday after years of consultation. The public gallery was full and a number of objections raised although curiously when the plan went through detailed public scrutiny by the Planning Inspector earlier in the year and it really mattered, not a single opposition councillor turned up to argue the case. Whilst a number of sites across Adur are being considered for development several sensitive sites are now protected and the number of houses we are being asked to accommodate is substantially below what was originally stated. Whilst we will still struggle to find suitable space and the challenges to our local infrastructure are considerable (not least the A27) Adur will have to build 3,609 houses over the next 15 years rather than the 5,820 originally proposed. Meanwhile neighbouring Arun and Mid Sussex have had their plans rejected and will have to take substantially more building, so Adur has actually pulled off quite a coup.
On the local development front I was interested to see the BBC reporting the EU is to open an in-depth investigation into IKEA’s corporate tax structure and whether the company’s tax affairs have breached the rules. Just saying!
I finished the week off with a visit to Worthing high-tech business and the UK’s only intraocular lens maker Rayner who have now completed the transfer of their production business over from Hove. They are fully staffed and doing really well on the Dominion Way estate – another vote of confidence in the town.
Then it was on to the Christmas Awards evening for TS Vanguard in Broadwater – always an uplifting experience to see some very impressive young cadets and marines.
A very happy Christmas to all readers and hopefully a rather calmer New Year than 2017! See you in 2018.
• 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 [email protected]