Francis Maude: Excitement at lovely school buildings

Horsham MP Francis Maude
Horsham MP Francis Maude

Another busy time in the constituency on Thursday and Friday.

I was delighted to cut the ribbon for the splendid new buildings at Heron Way Primary School on Thursday night. There was great excitement among the children and parents, who all seem to love their new facilities, and rightly so.

It was lovely to see some of the very first pupils in the school in attendance, as well as two previous heads, reminding us of the school being at the centre of its community.

Then a visit to SSE, major local suppliers of gas and electricity in the area. I had been invited in to discuss the roll-out of smart meters across their customers, and it was a very worthwhile and informative visit.

This is a government initiative, and the aim is twofold – to move away from estimated bills and meter readers, and to give customers much better control of their energy use by showing it in real time.

There is lots of potential for the development of apps and other simple software which will help people to manage their fuel budget much more effectively.

We also saw the new control centre vehicle, which can be taken quickly to any place where there has been a disruption of service instead of having to move furniture, computers and staff into the local village hall or other premises.

It has the means to collate and manage all the information that people need to get their supply back as quickly as possible, while keeping them properly informed all the way.

It also helps ensure that the most vulnerable customers can be identified, monitored and helped more quickly during any power outage.

Next was a meeting to discuss a suggestion that there should be special planning status for cathedral cities and historic towns. It’s always interesting to hear new ideas, however speculative, about how to protect our outstanding built heritage.

A lively session on parliament, crime and punishment followed with the top classes at Shipley School.

Shipley is particularly dear to my heart as our youngest two children attended this wonderful rural village school when we first moved to Sussex. It has lost none of its charm, and I am always pleased to return.

A very full surgery followed with the usual wide range of cases, and as always some issues which were new to me even after all this time. Sadly there is no magic wand an MP can wave to sort out everyone’s concerns, but I can at least make sure that the concerns are heard and properly scrutinised.