With Christmas fast approaching, I joined the hundreds of other ‘Santas’ for the Bexhill Lions charity Santa Dash along Bexhill seafront last Saturday.
The weather was more foul than festive but everyone was in good spirits. The scene of a ‘sleigh’ of Santas running through the stormy weather reminded me that the traditions and events which we hold in the Bexhill and Battle constituency make for such a vibrant and colourful calendar. From the Battle Arts Festival, our numerous Bonfire Societies, Roaring 20s Day and the Festival of the Sea (to name but a few) we are well served for events where everyone in our community can come together and celebrate living in this special part of the country.
After the Santa Dash, I celebrated ‘Small Business Saturday’ in the constituency. We were well hosted by one of our thriving family businesses. With fewer retail chains than other parts of the country, we are blessed with high quality independent retailers who give huge diversity. They need our support and I hope readers will consider buying their presents locally before heading elsewhere. It is also why I am determined to continue to press our local councils and police to find a solution to the parking enforcement problems which are blighting both Bexhill and Battle town centres. If we do not do something fast, we could lose more of our treasured shops.
This weekend, I will be joining in with the celebrations as the De La Warr Pavilion turns 80 years of age. This iconic landmark is a ray of creative sunshine for us all to enjoy. It is also more than just a gallery and auditorium, it plays a major role in our community - as exemplified by its collaboration with me and local business and civic organisations for our 2016 Bexhill Jobs Fair.
As well as looking back, we have great cause to celebrate the future with the imminent opening of our new Bexhill to Hastings Link Road. This will give us a new business park, desperately needed housing and a new countryside park. In Prime Minister’s Questions this week, I was called to ask a question by the Speaker and asked the Chancellor (standing in) to welcome new business and business expansion as a result of the opening of our new road. He duly did so! I was grateful to the speaker for calling me to ask a question because I was not on the printed list. I think he did so out of sympathy as I was balancing on crutches and wearing an air foot after rupturing my calf muscle and ligaments during an over-strenuous MPs cross-party football match this week! Proof that time and age does catch up on us all.