STEPHEN LLOYD MP: It’s good to be back, folks

Stephen Lloyd, MP for Eastbourne and Willingdon SUS-170614-095516001
Stephen Lloyd, MP for Eastbourne and Willingdon SUS-170614-095516001

Last Saturday it was straight to work, just like old times: first to the Langney Shopping Centre to help raise money to support a brilliant young skater, Kenzy Hyde, who has been selected to play inline-hockey for England.

Then riding, through the town with local cycling group Bespoke and listening to their new cycling plans.

After that it was onto a “Get Together” street party in Old Town to celebrate the life of the murdered MP, Jo Cox.

It was held in the street next to mine and was indeed a brilliant celebration of life and optimism, which I feel sure is what she would have wanted.

Grenfell Tower Fire:

It appears clear as the days pass since the tragedy of the fire at the Grenfell Tower, that some shocking mistakes may have been made.

Either with the cladding used, the lack of strict building control or, as many of the residents are reporting, the local council ignoring pleas from them over the last few years that the tower block was unsafe.

Consequently I have written to the Minister, Sajid Javid MP, asking his department to publish the long awaited review into building regulations and fire-safety measures, and to do so with no more delays.

Equally, it is obvious we need a proper and fully resourced public inquiry into the fire.

Not just to satisfy what went wrong, but also to identify the lessons which must be learnt from this appalling incident, so the many other tower block residents across the UK can feel properly secure in their own homes.

A number of you have also contacted me over this dreadful fire and I can confirm that I’ve spoken with our own council, and they are planning a series of additional inspections alongside the Fire Authority to assess the state of risk with our own buildings.

It should be noted that none of the council buildings are over six floors, the height the Government has announced blocks need to be checked since the fire, but the council has reassured me they will do so anyway. The 20 or so blocks we have in Eastbourne (in private hands) that are above six floors will also be visited and checked.

An awful tragedy. So sad and horrible for the many victims and their families.

I am sure as we remember that bleak night as Grenfell Tower was engulfed in flames hundreds of feet high we wonder - there but for the grace of God...

The Queen’s Speech:

It was a very different Queen’s Speech this week than I suspect Theresa May intended when she called the snap general election.

Being a minority Government means they have had to ditch some of their manifesto promises.

All to the good in my view, as I explained when doing the media round outside Parliament.

It included the Government dropping their proposal to remove the triple lock on state pensions; the cutting of free school meals, as well as their own goal of the Dementia Tax.

The former two were policies the Lib Dems introduced during the coalition, so I was delighted they will be retained after all.

Also out went the planned new grammar schools and Theresa May’s plan to bring back fox hunting. So I for one think a little more consensual government, and a little less overwhelming mandate, is a good thing.

I was disappointed, however, that there was no announcement to drop the government’s schools funding formula, which is proving so devastating for our own schools, so this is something I plan to continue challenging the Conservatives on.

Finally, I have been given the front bench role of shadowing the Department of Work and Pensions for the Lib Dems.

A big brief, but one I am delighted to take up the cudgels on over the continued plans to cut disability benefits. It will also allow me to push the Government in Parliament on the WASPI pensions, an issue I promised those affected that I would be vocal about if elected as your MP.

It’s good to be back folks.

It’s such a joy for me to see so many of you as I’m busy across our town and to receive your generous words of encouragement.

I’m still catching up on the many hundreds of supportive Facebook messages, emails, calls, letters and cards you’ve sent me - for which many thanks.

What a town. What a people. How can I not love Eastbourne...