I would like to pass my thanks onto the local emergency services who work so hard all through the year to keep us safe, and but for whom we would have nowhere to turn in the toughest of circumstances. This week is a good case in point. The storms at the beginning of the week battered the entire south coast with winds locally reaching 70mph. We had trees blown down, dangerous driving conditions, delayed trains - in Hastings the helter skelter blew over, and in Eastbourne, incredibly a wall of the Premier Inn collapsed. On that last incident, I’m glad to say that no-one was injured, but it could have been worse. That story is covered elsewhere in the paper, but I just wanted to acknowledge and thank the firefighters, police, ambulance, and hospital staff who do so much for us when there is nowhere else to turn.
Sunday trading appears to be back on the agenda. I have always been very clear where I stand on the issue, and my position hasn’t changed. Currently the law states that stores over 3,000 sq ft can open for six hours on Sundays. This appears to work well and I see no reason for change. I am also concerned about a damaging impact on family and community life; the need to have a recognised rest period each week for our health and well-being. There is also a special significance to Sundays for many people of faith. There is also the potential pressure to work on Sundays, and with many in retail being among the lowest paid, this can lead to further strains on those workers’ families. And the economic case is far from clear. There was no increase in trade when this was trialled during the Olympics, indeed quite the reverse. Remember also that, at the present time many small shops under 3,000sq ft can open - all day - if they choose. If they are making the decision to open, they will be further disadvantaged if the big stores are open all day as well. I would welcome your views - email me at email@example.com
Last week there was some coverage of my recent trip to Lesbos, and I wanted to expand a little on it this week. I was invited to see for myself the extent of the refugee crisis. This is for many, the main landing point for those travelling to Europe, on a journey that can be anything from two-10 hours. The crossing is treacherous, and is undertaken normally with only a very minimum amount of training for an unskilled individual who will be told in very basic terms how to steer the boat. It is extraordinarily dangerous, and as such many have died in the waters whilst on this journey. Tragically, it was reported that even whilst we were there it was thought 30 people, including children, were lost at sea. I had been invited on this trip by Save the Children as I have spoken out on the issue of refugees on a number of occasions. I certainly recognise the huge contribution the UK is making in aid to the Middle East, and whilst we have set out how we can provide sanctuary to refugees in Britain, there appears to be a need for the EU to have a more co-ordinated response to the crisis in Europe. This trip was planned to give an opportunity to see the front-line of the crisis first hand, meet refugee families, assess the adequacy of the wider European response and see the support provided by Save the Children and other agencies. I was thankful for this opportunity to find out more and I expand further on this on my website www.carolineansell.co.uk