TIM LOUGHTON: Remembering our armed forces
At last, after a few hiccups, the Queen came to open Parliament last Wednesday in a slightly '˜dumbed down' version of the State Opening.
There were no horse-drawn coaches, no cavalry escorts and no crown and Her Majesty was able to get away in time for the 2.30pm first race at Royal Ascot.
There was however a speech which included 27 proposed Bills including eight to facilitate the complex business of Brexit.
Predictably though most of the subsequent debate was about what was not in the Government’s programme for the forthcoming session rather than what was.
To the relief of some of us, certain slightly less well-judged manifesto measures around changing the triple lock for pensions, adult social care reform and grammar schools were quietly dropped, though Parliamentary time will still be dominated by Brexit legislation as the negotiations get underway with a vengeance.
I made a short contribution in the six-day debate on the Queen’s Speech flagging up some of the lower-profile, if much-welcomed, proposals around improving mental health, cracking down on domestic violence and countering hate crime on social media.
On Thursday I was back in Worthing for the unveiling of a Worthing Society blue plaque in Union Place to another little-known local pioneer Dr Frederick Dixon.
Amongst other things he opened the town’s first dispensary in 1829, extended medical treatment to the wider population and co-founded the Sussex Archaeological Society.
Later that evening I joined a well-attended inaugural public meeting of AREA at Ropetackle, the Adur Residents’ Environmental Action group set up to lobby for cleaner air locally.
There are a number of pollution hotspots in Shoreham and around the A27 in Worthing especially and this new group has been taking samples to see the exact effect of traffic pollution.
With so many new developments coming through which can only add to congestion and therefore pollution this is a timely innovation and backs by many councillors and officers at the meeting.
I was back at Ropetackle the following morning for a lively breakfast of the Worthing & Adur Chamber of Commerce and a torrent of questions about what next for government and Brexit following the election, and of course the A27.
We could have gone on until tea-time at least but we all had jobs to go to!
The highlight of the weekend however was of course the Drumhead Service as part of the Armed Forces weekend in Steyne Gardens.
It is a great opportunity for local people to turn out and show our appreciation to our armed forces for the challenging job we ask them to do day in, day out.
It also reminds us that veterans include many more than the declining number of heroes from world wars in the last century who we honour each November.
The many military support organisations represented there provide ongoing support for those who have suffered the trauma of military combat, both physical and increasingly mental.
It is good that the Queen’s Speech included measures to provide more help for military and their families whose sacrifices we often overlook.
I am proud that in Worthing we never take our service personnel for granted.
• 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]
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