Worries over the soaring cost of petrol

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MOST of Friday was set aside for seeing constituents who were, for one reason or another, unable to attend one of my local advice surgeries.

I did, however, manage to fit in a couple of visits, one to Home-Start, based in Crawley, and one to St Andrew’s School, Nuthurst.

Home-Start is a fantastic charity which works with parents of young children in Horsham, Crawley and Mid Sussex.

They offer parenting support and information, emotional support and practical help, all usually in a family’s own home.

They also organise outreach and family groups and a service where parents can be accompanied to meetings such as those with solicitors.

I met staff, volunteers and families who were keen to tell me what a difference Home-Start can make.

The visit to St Andrew’s was sparked by a letter I received from a group of six and seven-year-olds who are concerned about environmental issues.

As a group, they wrote explaining their fears about the use of fossil fuels and climate change. They wanted to know what the Government is doing about it.

It’s great being questioned by such youngsters but let me tell you that their questions are no less challenging than those from teenagers and they don’t let you get away with anything less than a full and frank answer.

It would be easy to compile a book of hilarious questions MPs have been asked by their youngest constituents.

The Nuthurst children were impeccably behaved and asked thought-provoking questions but I was also asked about my age by an earnest six-year-old.

Turning the question around, I was delighted when he said I looked about 45 – very encouraging but obviously this is absolutely ancient to one so young!

Finally, I wanted to bring readers up to date with an important issue – the cost of petrol and diesel.

I’ve received a lot of communication from local people about this and I know that it’s really affecting people’s daily lives – particularly those who live in rural areas or who drive a lot as part of their business.

Responding to this, last year George Osborne asked the Office of Budget Responsibility to assess the effect of oil price fluctuations on the public finances and the possibility of introducing a fair fuel stabiliser.

The Treasury is currently considering the OBR’s report and will take a decision in the Budget on March 23.

We’re also going to be introducing a pilot scheme that will deliver up to a 5p per litre discount in remote rural areas.

Thank you to all those who’ve been in touch about this issue – I know it’s of huge concern and I want to reassure people that it’s high on our list of priorities.

FRANCIS MAUDE

MP for Horsham