TIM LOUGHTON: Good to see the system working as it should

The opening of the temporary art gallery in the Montague Quarter
The opening of the temporary art gallery in the Montague Quarter

Parliament returned from the Easter recess on Monday and not surprisingly our proceedings were dominated by events in Syria over the weekend.

A number of constituents have written to me to express their views as did many who dropped by my regular street surgery at Shoreham Farmer’s Market on Saturday.

Having not voted to support military action against Syria in 2013 when President Obama tried to strong-arm David Cameron into indeterminate action against the Assad regime, I am not one who supports committing British armed forces arbitrarily. However, in 2013 the Syrians signed up to the International Convention on Chemical weapons and supposedly destroyed its stockpiles with Russia acting as guarantor to that action.

I believe the specifically targeted action to degrade Syria’s chemical weapons capacity was justified under international law, proportionate and the right humanitarian action to take and I therefore gave my full support to the Prime Minister. As usual I have given fuller details justifying my action in a podcast on my website.

I took the opportunity during the recess to sit in on two meetings which often form the basis of casework at my surgeries to see for myself exactly how well constituents are supported or not. Firstly I sat in on an interview for jobseeker’s support at the Crown House benefit’s office in Worthing where I was impressed with the understanding way the staff member dealt with someone in a pretty desperate situation, although the amount of paperwork required still seemed a bit too bureaucratic. A follow up home interview was arranged for a few days later and help is now being given.

Secondly I spent the morning at the Tribunals service in Brighton hearing appeals from against DWP decisions on disability benefits. I was very impressed with the very thorough and sympathetic way that the panel which consisted of a judge, a doctor and a disability expert listened to the evidence and gave those involved a good opportunity to make their case and then explained their decision. It was good to see the system work as it should and as a result I have a arranged a meeting between a constituent who has been involved with this process and the Disability Minister to see how we can make the system more user friendly to avoid having to go to appeal in the first place.

It was an artistic extravaganza in Worthing on Thursday night as I was asked to open a packed temporary gallery at the newly dubbed ‘Montague Quarter’ next to HMV in Worthing where a vacant shop has been given over to displaying the works of 30 local artists for the next seven weeks. There are some fantastic pieces of art on offer and well done to expert photographer Alan Humphries whose brainchild it was and whose hard work made it possible. Later that evening I went on to Worthing Museum to see a presentation of the impressive plans to regenerate this valuable collection and make it more visitor friendly literally by ‘letting the light in,’

It is about time this Worthing jewel had the recognition it deserves and the plans are really impressive. I have already spoken to the curator to discuss ways of tying in the forthcoming loan of the Bayeux Tapestry to local museums along the south coast including Worthing, and it would be great to have a newly refurbished museum to host this.

If you would like to get in touch with me, please write to me at the House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA, or email me at loughtont@parliament.uk

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