Wonderful choice on our very doorsteps

READING about the launch of the 2012 Sussex Food and Drink Awards in the County Times got me thinking – we really are spoiled for choice when it comes to local food and drink - not just Sussex but the Horsham area more specifically.

I’m very lucky in that I get to visit lots of local businesses, charities and community ventures as part of my job as Horsham’s MP, so I’m aware of the variation available on our very doorsteps.

We’ve got farmers’ markets, farm shops, local produce shops, independents, restaurants, cafes, beer shops, breweries.

Shopping locally is a win-win situation – we as customers get wonderfully fresh food, drink and other products; our local economy gets a boost; our roads are clearer as buying local cuts down on the amount of food that has to be brought to us in lorries and our environment benefits in so many ways.

A quick look at the Sussex Food and Drink Awards website reveals that this year’s categories include best farmers’ market, eating experience, food producer, drink producer and food/farm shop.

I can think of so many wonderful local businesses that are worthy nominees and it would be great if the Sussex-wide awards had some winners from the Horsham area.

So, why not take a look at sussexfoodawards.biz and nominate your favourite.

It’s not all about eating and drink, mind you. There are plenty of local businesses and markets that are worth exploring – Horsham has something for everyone!

With many families deciding an overseas trip is not something they’re able to spend out on this year, and with the lure of the Olympics and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, many people will be ‘stay-cationing’ and holidaying at home.

For fun, different and often reasonably-priced or free ideas for things to do in our local area, Horsham District Council’s website (Horsham.gov.uk) is a good place to look for inspiration.

Visiting local businesses and enterprises is an invaluable way for me, as local MP, to really get a feel for what’s going on in the area and what’s affecting our local economy.

So often, what I’ve learned in conversation with local business owners and, for that matter, their clients and customers, feeds in to my discussions with Cabinet colleagues in Westminster.

If you would like me to visit your premises then please do get in touch with my House of Commons office and we’d be only too pleased to make the necessary arrangements.

FRANCIS MAUDE

MP for Horsham