Rain or shine, I’ve been getting out and speaking to residents about our priorities ahead of the local elections on May 5. At the Godstone Inn, I chatted with locals about the future of Pond Tail Surgery with prospective councillor Keith Ward.
We talked about issues ranging from the importance of food security, to the rules governing muck spreading, to the increase in the price of fertiliser given the current situation in Ukraine.
I’m pleased to report the Government has since announced steps to assist farmers with the availability of fertilisers for the coming growing season to help address uncertainty and keep costs down.
It will come as not much surprise to you that I grew up in a city, so it’s always a huge pleasure to meet the people who produce our food and protect our countryside, and to hear from experts in the field (pun intended) about the challenges and concerns they have. At Warlingham Green, I spoke to residents about their anxieties about the green belt. I stressed the need for a local plan to protect against speculative development, more flexibility on housing numbers, and the need for affordable homes for local people.
Another highlight this month was a really informative meeting with Cllr Lesley Steeds and Joannie from our showpeople community. Like many of you, I have so many fond memories of going to the fair as a child and always having a brilliant time. So I really welcomed getting the chance to meet representatives from Future 4 Fairgrounds and hear about some of the challenges they face and what we can do to help.
I also had the pleasure of attending the St George’s Day fair in Horley, where I delighted in a hog roast bap from Chris White. It was wonderful to see so many people coming together to celebrate our great country with the customary Horley spirit that I’ve got to know in my time here.
I’d like to thank Hayley and team for all they do for people with disabilities – giving them a place to socialise, make friends, and enjoy being creative. You can donate to them by visiting their website.
Towards the end of the month, I also gave a speech in the House of Commons on the situation in Ukraine. I told fellow MPs about Tanya, a local resident from Horley who drove 1,500 miles to the edge of Ukraine to pick up her mother and bring her to safety. This is just one example locally of the remarkable shown by the people of Ukraine.
I think we should all be proud of the British response too. For example, I was proud the day that President Zelenskyy said that our Prime Minister had been an example to the world and that he highlighted Britain as Ukraine’s most sincere friend.
Alongside our world-leading national response, we can also take an enormous amount of pride in the response we have seen right here in East Surrey.
From Lee Pearce in Woldingham, to Alex Severn in Dormansland, to Shashi Fernando in Caterham on the Hill – I have been personally bowled over by the kindness and generosity of spirit shown by local residents in welcoming refugee families into their homes.
And I would also like to thank Jack Powell in my team for all the determination and energy that he has shown in working with local families.
My whole team and I are very much looking forward to personally welcoming our new Ukrainian neighbours to East Surrey in the weeks ahead and continuing to do all we can to help them.