One of the issues I am determined to address locally is the rise in the number of street drinkers in the town centre and underneath the pier.
We are a tourist town and the fastest way to put off visitors coming to Eastbourne is if they see or hear unpleasant behaviour from street drinkers regularly congregating at key points across Eastbourne. I’m not prepared to ‘live and let live’ over this issue as am convinced that if it’s not addressed at least two things will happen: firstly it will get worse and secondly, it will begin to have a seriously demoralising effect on our tourist/visitor trade as well as ourselves across the wider Eastbourne community. And I am not having that. Consequently I’ve already begun to take action with a very constructive meeting earlier this week with our local Police Commamder, Emma Brice, and on Friday I am meeting the council so they can update me on what multi-agency plans they have to help the individuals concerned.
It’s been a busy few days up in Westminster this week. Mind you, I’ve still no office yet which is frustrating but I should have one by the end of next week, a whole month after being elected! I do though appreciate the patience shown by the many hundreds of you who have already contacted me with your casework. We are getting there.
Meanwhile on Tuesday I challenged the Health Minister, Jeremy Hunt, over the failings of a private/public company called NHS SBS who it transpired had left tens of thousands of confidential medical documents unprotected in a warehouse. His answer was a bit of a master class in obfuscation but I’ve now got my concerns on the record which is important. I also tried to ask Theresa May a question at my first PMQs since I’ve been back. The way it works is if an MP is not on the allotted list, they can still try to catch Speaker Bercow’s attention by bobbing up and down. It worked successfully for me a few times in the past so worth a go. I was unsuccessful this time but you know me; I never give up. I wanted to ask the Prime Minister directly whether the government is serious about bringing all the parties together around the negotiating table, with no pre-conditions, to sort a workable compromise over the ongoing Southern Rail dispute, which is proving so damaging to Eastbourne and beyond. Or are they determined to bring in driver only trains whatever the consequences? I will keep pressing until I get some answers here. We know locally that this dispute simply cannot go on and must be resolved soon. And my view is for as long as the government is refusing to meet with the unions at the same time, with no pre-conditions, then they are part of the problem.
Finally we had our first vote this week on the Queens Speech. I supported an amendment to remove the government’s cap on public sector pay and it was only just defeated by the new Conservative/DUP partnership. The rumour mill in Westminster suggests the government may be rowing back on their original determination to fix the cap until 2020, so I will be maintaining as much leverage as possible over this. Frankly the advantage of minority government is the Conservatives are going to have to be far more consensual than they were before, which I happen to think is a good thing for all of us. Have a good weekend folks. Hope to see you around town.