Housing, planning, inadequate local infrastructure... these are the issues about which constituents write to me the most. This concern was reflected in a public meeting which I addressed in Henfield on Friday, attended by several hundred villagers.
I said that, following the scrapping of the South East Plan, it is now up to our district councils to set the appropriate level of new housing, while villages can determine where development is located by drawing up a neighbourhood plan.
I reiterated my view that while some new housing is necessary, it must be at sustainable levels.
Neighbourhood plans will help villages to protect themselves from speculative development that causes so much anguish, so I’ve been encouraging parish councils to take them forward.
I also met the leaders of Hurstpierpoint Parish Council on Friday and they are well ahead with their plan. Mid-Sussex District Council has set a more realistic housing target, showing that the new localism can work.
However, this agenda can be frustrated if concerns about inadequate infrastructure aren’t addressed, or proposed housing targets are too high.
Coincidentally this week I met with Network Rail and the new Local Enterprise Partnership to discuss the need to upgrade local roads and rail services.
I persuaded Network Rail to investigate an Arundel Chord, allowing trains to turn West below Arundel, and making more use of the Horsham-Dorking-London line.
This week Arun District councillors will consider proposals for ‘garden city’ developments at Angmering and between Barnham and Eastergate.
I met with the five village parish council leaders on Saturday morning and have again taken up their concerns about these overblown proposals
This week I also met the Planning Minister, Nick Boles, to reiterate my strong view that the Planning Inspector should respect responsible decisions by councils and not overturn them in a search for unrealistic housing targets which have been scrapped.
Localism does not mean that communities can or will say no to everything - it means giving local people the power AND the responsibility to decide what is necessary and appropriate in their areas.
The power of neighbourhood plans is that they will be voted on in a referendum of the whole parish, giving them local legitimacy.
There’s been much talk of referendums this week, and I certainly support one on the EU. But there are also local issues on which people want, and can now have, a greater say.
If you would like to get in touch with me, please write to me at the House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA, or e-mail me at email@example.com