SIR PETER BOTTOMLEY: Reliable service, dedicated work
Housing was one of the causes that led me towards sustained public and political service.
Before I was first elected, I found a way to resolve the difficulty facing two very young parents: their baby could not leave hospital until they had a home; the home could not be allocated until the baby was with them.
The motto should be: “If it needs to be done, it can be done.”
Politics can be much more than the art of the possible. It is the responsibility to make possible that which is right.
Later, I worked for a middle-aged mother who had to cross London twice a day to care for her slowly dying parents.
The social housing system found it difficult to allow her or them to move to live close for her support every day.
When I chaired Family Forum, the gathering of voluntary organisations and charities sharing concern for practical approaches to problems and opportunities, we looked to bring the household life cycle into social and economic policies.
Once I had a lone elderly constituent who refused to accept her work pension.
Thankfully, it was possible to gain cooperation from her housing association, the local council and a circle of Westminster friends to keep her rent and council tax paid.
Their understanding and help prevent a useless eviction and costly care elsewhere.
I pay tribute to those who work in housing every day.
Locally we are fortunate to have dedicated housing professionals managing social housing. Arun has maintained direct ownership and management. They do well.
The establishment of Worthing Homes follows a different model. Their annual meeting is this week. They take a positive attitude to community life.
At Westminster I speak with pride about the dedication and the achievements of our housing and community teams.
Without claiming everything goes perfectly, I can testify that staff give dedicated service within the limits of finance and homes available.
There are problems. Our towns and villages are not isolated from the pressures of changing lives and growing populations.
For over a hundred years, there has been building. West Durrington will grow. Government inspectors have overturned some local refusals; they have upheld others. Ferring especially has suffered.
Look at a local road sign pointing to our communities. Few can expand greatly. East Preston with Kingston and Goring-by-Sea should maintain their identities, not becoming part of continuous development from Hove to Bognor Regis. Soon I hope to be able to write about relying every day on train staff and middle-ranking doctors but strikes and threats make that difficult.
Let us recognise that many others serving the public are also people on whom many rely for caring competent professional help.
In times of need and with ordinary day-to-day issues, they are dedicated to being available and to giving reliable service.
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