Let me start with news that will be covered elsewhere in this week’s County Times and will be the talk of the town: the proposed closure of Novartis’ operations in Horsham.
I was deeply saddened when I learnt of the proposals. Such a move would bring to an end a long history of this company and its predecessors in our town.
This news will be a devastating blow to many individuals and of course their families and there will be a knock-on effect on local suppliers and other businesses.
I’ve always been proud that cutting edge research, conducted by top-class scientists, has taken place within my constituency but, having spoken with senior managers from Novartis UK, I fully understand that the decision to propose closure is no reflection on Horsham, our regional economy or infrastructure, or indeed that of the UK.
Novartis is a truly international company and the decision has been taken as part of an on-going strategic review of their operations across the globe. That said, it is a regrettable decision and my thoughts are with all the individuals who will be affected. We are fortunate that Horsham has relatively low unemployment, but nonetheless I will be discussing with West Sussex County Council and Horsham District Council what can be done to bring new jobs to replace those being lost at Novartis.
I’d like to finish with a brief look at a topic that has led to many letters in my postbag and emails in my inbox: the future of the Probation Service
The changes we’re making have two goals: to transform rehabilitation services and reduce reoffending rates.
Shockingly, at the moment nearly half of all offenders released from prison reoffend within a year and it increases to almost 60 per cent for those who served short sentences.
We want to extend support and supervision to all those released from prison, even from shorter sentences. We’re opening things up to new rehabilitation providers from the private, voluntary and community sectors and we’re encouraging innovative solutions. There’ll also be a new National Probation Service to manage the most dangerous of offenders. A new resettlement service will also be provided for all offenders before their release - tailored to their individual needs it will mean the same professional is likely to work with an offender in custody and in the community.
We’re determined to end the merry-go-round of offending and reoffending - cutting crime, the victims of crime and the costs of crime and these reforms mark the start of the process.