Francis Maude: great shame if firm were to disappear

JPCT 10-10-12 S12410740X Ceres Power, Foundry Lane, Horsham -photo by steve cobb
JPCT 10-10-12 S12410740X Ceres Power, Foundry Lane, Horsham -photo by steve cobb

The front page of last week’s County Times was dedicated to the uncertain future of Ceres Power, a company based in Foundry Lane, Horsham.

I’ve visited the Horsham and Crawley Ceres’ facilities several times and I’m very aware of the dedication of the highly-skilled work force.

It’s very concerning that many local people’s jobs are hanging in the balance and it would be a very great shame if a local business, with a great concept and huge potential were to disappear.

I’m in close touch with the management of Ceres Power and will continue to do all I can to help bring the current crisis to a positive conclusion.

Whilst my mind has been on many Horsham issues over the last few days, this week has also been a busy one in Westminster.

The House of Commons has returned since the party conference season and we’re not just looking ahead to Parliamentary business between now and Christmas – there’s also been much focus on 2014, a year that will mark the centenary of the First World War and is also likely to see an historic referendum on Scottish independence.

Last week David Cameron announced plans for the whole country to come together to mark 100 years since the start of the First World War. The sacrifices of so many really are worth commemorating, as are significant dates during the war such as the first day of the Battle of the Somme (1916) and Armistice Day (1918).

The WW1 galleries at the Imperial War Museum will be refurbished between now and 2014, paid for via a £5m grant from the Treasury and £30m from fines imposed on financial services for misconduct.

Other projects include enabling students and teachers from each maintained school in England to visit WW1 battlefields and a grant from the National Heritage Memorial Fund to support HMS Caroline, the only surviving warship.

As David Cameron made clear, the commemorations will honour those who served, remember those who died and ensure that lessons learnt live with us forever.

I’m also hoping that as 2014 draws to a close, the United Kingdom will remain intact. Sometime during the year a referendum will be held asking the people of Scotland if they wish to remain in the UK or if Scotland should become independent.

Over the next two years we have the opportunity of a lifetime to highlight the benefits of the Union – benefits to Scotland and to the UK as a whole and which range from economic to issues of defence.

No doubt I will return to this subject as the debate on the future of the UK intensifies.