Francis Maude: Fascinating mix of constituency issues

Horsham MP Francis Maude
Horsham MP Francis Maude

It’s been a week of intensely focused time for me here in Sussex, mostly on constituency business but with a welcome (and increasingly rare) opportunity to have the whole family here for Easter.

Monday’s surgery brought the usual fascinating mix of cases one might never have considered before, and I always enjoy meeting my constituents.

Sometimes there is a simple way in which I can help by ensuring a letter lands on the right desk, or the right person is finally able to consider or review a problem.

Other help might involve making an introduction, pursuing a problem through a channel which hasn’t been tried before or just listening to concerns. And it’s surprising how often a constituent books an appointment when at his or her wits’ end about something, only to find that by the time the appointment happens there has been some unexpected progress. (Much as I’d love to take the credit, it’s not always due to me and my team.)

This week I met constituents who wanted to talk about accountancy practice, the Land Registry and Legal Aid charges, the teaching profession, inspection of daycare centres, local safeguarding, and special needs provision in and out of mainstream school.

I’ve had meetings with the Environment Agency about the management of our two big local rivers, a catch-up with Saxon Weald which is always a useful measure of all sorts of current issues in the Housing Association world; a very interesting meeting about West Sussex policing with the Acting Chief Constable and a cheerful visit to Horsham’s excellent Piazza Italia, when I helped wave off a hundred or so Ferraris on Friday afternoon.

The big event of the week was probably a long meeting at Gatwick Airport with senior management of GAL and NATS. We pored over maps, discussed data from the recently introduced flightpath trial and the complications of crowded airspace, particularly around the south east of England where we have a large number of airports and two major gliding clubs.

I came away from that reassured that my constituents in Warnham, Slinfold, Rusper and Billingshurst need not feel that there is no hope for their peace of mind and continued enjoyment of their homes and gardens.

As you might expect, this is a hugely emotional issue for a lot of people – on my email distribution list for updates about this issue I already have some one hundred names, and the newly formed CAGNE group has 400 members.

So, all in a week’s work for the local MP, and though it’s never a hardship to spend any time in this part of the world, it is even more special in the springtime, particularly when the nightingales are busy with their perfect song.