SIR PETER BOTTOMLEY: The choice: uniting or splitting?

The Southern Water legal team in the Great Hall at the Palace of Westminster
The Southern Water legal team in the Great Hall at the Palace of Westminster

As local MPs, Tim Loughton and I work together in the West Sussex constituencies for the good of our public services and the businesses that maintain high levels of employment and the shared economic prosperity.

On Friday at the Town Hall we joined Adur and Worthing housing experts to consider the changing needs, affected in part by coastal drift of people from the east and the north.

It is good that government is developing imaginative ways to assist the creation of private and social housing while tackling abuse and exploitation.

At midday the leaders of Worthing College briefed us on their continuing development. The mathematics A-level results were particularly sparkling. Tim and I have quiet pride in helping the college to relocate from the cramped Bolsover Road location. We know that it takes persistence to carry through a major project in the interests of all. We do not have executive power; the position of MP can be seen as a useful community telephone exchange that can link a twitten to Downing Street. One bureaucratic block facing the college was resolved after I asked for two minutes with the then Prime Minster.

We were present in the Assembly Hall to congratulate the graduating students of Northbrook MET College at the higher education awards. It takes exceptional skill to organise a great event like that.

Because of the Rohingya tragedy, I called on Imam Idris Nawab, asking him to add my support to the concern and to the practical assistance local Muslims are giving to those suffering in southeast Asia. We can each contribute to the disaster relief.

This week, at an informal gathering in Downing Street again, I spoke of the ways our government can try with others to prevent further violations of the Rohingya’s human rights and their economic well-being. I would welcome public funds being used to double the voluntary gifts of money.

Additionally, I talked on housing, trying to make everyone realise that we do not need separate rigid housing opportunities without the flexibility to transfer safely from one form of tenure to another.

Every home, every business needs water and most need waste pipes. Southern Water’s headquarters are in Worthing and many employees live in the constituency. I welcomed the good people in the legal team for their visit to Westminster. During the informal lunch break, I learned more of the range of their responsibilities.

In less than 40 years, the county and municipal water undertakings in Sussex, Kent and Hampshire with the Isle of Wight were brought together, supplying one million households from 95 water works with over 8,000 miles of pipes, and running the network of 370 waste treatment works and another 25,000 miles of sewers. We can thank them for keeping going during floods, droughts and the occasional normal times.

On Wednesday, I joined a gathering with the Home Secretary Amber Rudd. When my wife was first elected in 1984, she joined 23 women amongst over 600 men. Now it is unexceptional for women to hold any position of responsibility.

One power of an MP is to take action when a vulnerable person is being coerced by the powerful. Instead of splitting, we can stand together.