Horsham MP Francis Maude: youngsters spell out their priorities

Francis Maude
Francis Maude

Much of Friday was taken up with the regular meeting of West Sussex MPs and West Sussex County Council Cabinet members at County Hall in Chichester.

These meetings are a good opportunity to discuss issues that affect the whole of West Sussex or, indeed, just a part. My colleagues, Nick Herbert, Henry Smith and Tim Loughton, were in attendance, as were Cabinet members and officers that cover areas as diverse as finance, property, health, education and highways.

We covered a lot of ground including plans for the A27, drainage, flood risks and fracking – the latter being particularly relevant to communities such as Balcombe and Wisborough Green.

The meeting was slightly different to normal as it concluded with a presentation by West Sussex Youth MPs and Youth Cabinet.

These young people have been elected by their peers to represent their interests in West Sussex and the UK as a whole. They spoke about their roles, their experiences of being a young person and their priorities to boost young people’s wellbeing in West Sussex.

The two excellent representatives from Horsham and Mid Sussex identified mental health, youth centres and drug and alcohol misuse as the main issues affecting young people in our community – something which gave me a lot to think about. I hope to get to know our local youth MPs better in the future.

Both old and young mingled over lunch at County Hall and I was pleased to be able to congratulate our very own Amanda Jupp – county councillor for Billingshurst – who has been made chairman of the county council.

The rest of the day was taken up with meetings with constituents, my regular advice surgery and a meeting at Tanbridge House School - a regular catch-up with headteacher, Jules White, and the chair of governors. I always come away from Tanbridge with a spring in my step – it really is a school that’s going from strength to strength!

I wanted to end by reminding readers that we’re in the midst of National Blood Week. The idea is, of course, to increase the numbers of people who donate blood by increasing awareness and giving people the information they need before they sign up. NHS Blood and Transplant are keen to recruit new donors and those who’ve given before but just not recently. Blood is needed for many reasons, not just emergency transfusions but also to treat cancer, haemophilia and to help people with terminal illnesses improve their quality of life. More information can be found at: www.blood.co.uk.