Apologies for this being my first update in some weeks, but while Parliament has been on summer recess, I have still been kept very busy! From constituent surgeries, to attending community and national events, as well as lobbying on behalf of Brighton Kemptown and Peacehaven, here’s what I’ve been up to over the summer as your new MP.
On the 15th I attended Moulescoomb Primary School talking to the governors and teachers about the ongoing cuts to their school but also about the amazing plans for the kids in the area and later in the day at the Tarner community festival event. As ever, I think it’s important to be a constant presence at community events around the constituency, to show support for projects I believe in an increase my accessibility to you.
At the Tarner community festival I was there with our fantastic Queens Park councillor team and I managed to speak to the Macmillan advocate Sara Cuttings, she is a cancer survivor and fundraiser for the charity making amazing hats to raise money, she got me in one to promote the charity’s work.
The following week, I was very proud to attend my graduation ceremony at the University of Sussex where I was awarded with my Masters in Law. I can speak personally of how fortunate we are in this city to have 2 fantastic universities, and it is my intention to ensure they continue to get the recognition they deserve. https://twitter.com/solomon_curtis/status/887331785020985344
That week, I also visited the Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital, and was humbled by the hard-working and caring staff, as well as by the bravery of the child patients. This was followed by a RSCH Hospital Liaison Group Meeting where we discussed the state of our Royal County Hospital (that is still under special measures) and how we can improve our local health services.
On the day Parliament began recess, I attended a Council meeting in my continued capacity as Councillor for East Brighton, a ward I still proudly represent. I also attended a meeting to discuss housing planning issues in Peacehaven; an issue I feel strongly about regarding the necessity for sufficient infrastructure to be in place to handle the pressures of new home-building. A meeting with the Principals of BHASVIC, Varndean and Greater Brighton MET followed, wherein we discussed the educational institutions in our city and how we can continue to improve our local education services for the next generation.
In the final week of July, my Senior Caseworker started working in my office. It is commonplace for newly elected MPs to not have their full office staff in place until the summer recess as the transition is such a busy period, and my caseworker, along with the rest of my staff, have been working tirelessly to catch up on the backlog of correspondence after the influx of constituents getting in touch upon my election. We now have a 2-week turnaround system in place where any constituents who get in touch get a full and thorough response within a fortnight.
In the first week of August, I attended the Commonwealth Youth Ministers meeting in Uganda. No government minister, despite their proclamations that the Commonwealth is now their focus, showed up, but I was determined to ensure that we reach out to our Commonwealth allies, and work together to improve the lives of the next generation. Uganda still has a rich vein of homophobia running through it as a nation, so it was an honour meeting with a fantastic LGBT project in Kampala.
Early in August, I had meetings with the Peacehaven Town Manager, as well as with Katy Bourne, the Sussex Police & Crime Commissioner regarding the ongoing issue of crime in Peacehaven. I expressed to the PPC my constituents’ concerns of anti-social behaviour and crime around Peacehaven, and we have outlined a range of steps to tackle these issues, including a permanent police presence at the Meridian Centre, and community wardens. However, as you may have seen from my interventions in The Argus and NowTV, it is my view that crime in our city can only be brought down significantly when this government funds our police force properly, and that’s why I’m campaigning for more funding for Sussex Police and more bobbies on the beat.
Later in the week I was invited to BHASVIC to sit on a Dragon’s Den style panel for the National Citizen Service where I really enjoyed hearing a range of new ideas. On the Friday I had a Gorham’s Gift meeting to discuss the preservation of Tye in Telscombe of which I am a trustee in my role as Councillor.
Over the first weekend of August I of course marched in the Brighton Pride parade with LGBT Labour, and was once again overcome with the level of tolerance, openness and warmth on show. Pride is an event very close to my heart, and I feel year upon year it brings out the best in our city. Long may it continue.
The following week, my final member of staff joined my office team, and we are now all up and running as an efficiently functioning MP’s office that’s door is always open. I attended a breakfast with the Peacehaven Chamber of Commerce where we had really constructive talks about how to grow small businesses in Peacehaven and the surrounding area. On the Thursday, I expressed my pride and admiration of the students across our city who got their A-Level results, and whom I wish all a bright future. I also appeared on the Politics on Fubar podcast to discuss the economic divide between London and the rest of the country, highlighting the housing issues and cuts to local council funding and services by the government we face in Brighton Kemptown & Peacehaven. I pointed out that the narrative of a North/South divide is too simplistic, as parts of our city face some of the highest deprivation in the region, and like parts of the North, we in Brighton & Hove require more government funding to solve our local housing crisis, and provide the services our community desperately needs.
Over the weekend, I participated in a meeting with the Brighton & Hove Housing coalition to discuss solutions to the housing crisis that faces our city, before appearing on a Labour Party street stall in Whitehawk, offering the residents of the Bird Blocks and beyond the opportunity to meet with their new MP and discuss their local concerns. I then attended the Sussex Co-operative Party AGM, as I am of course a Labour & Co-operative MP, and was pleased with the turnout and the positive meeting that took place.
Later in August I appeared on Radio Reverb to discuss the election campaign, its outcome, and my intentions for Brighton Kemptown & Peacehaven going forward. I also attended a South Downs Society meeting. We are blessed to have on our doorstep one the most beautiful pieces of countryside in Britain, and it is our duty to protect and preserve the South Downs. I also appeared on The Victoria Derbyshire show on an LGBT special episode – it fills me with immense pride to represent such a diverse constituency, and to be a strong advocate for the LGBT community. On the same day, it was my pleasure to meet with a representative from the Sussex Jewish council. Anti-Semitic abuse has been on the rise since the Brexit vote, and this is something which deeply concerns me. One of our city’s greatest assets is the liberal attitude of its inhabitants, and we must remain vigilant to stand up and stamp out racism and antisemitism wherever it rears its ugly head.
At the end of August I went on a delegation to Liberia with a focus on vaccinations, drug resistant TB, and education, where I met with the local YMCA, as well as Ministers and the President.
I’ve started September with a bang! On Sunday, I braved the dizzying heights of Peacehaven cliffs and scaled down them, abseiling for charity. We raised money for the NSPCC which does vital work in our community and beyond, and it was a pleasure to be a part of. The experience was exhilarating and rewarding, and the entire event was really well-organised by a local member of our community. I also spoke at an Eastbourne Labour Party meeting, about how our policies focussed on creating a fairer society for all, can inspire people across Sussex, and across the South coast.
As always, feel free to contact me at my office on 01273 550121, or even better; firstname.lastname@example.org. I hope you’ve all had a fantastic summer.