After autumnal visits to the new Arundel Brewery Shop to promote their new cyder and to the Harvest Fair at Pulborough on Saturday, I travelled to Birmingham for the Conservative Party Conference.
There I launched my new book, ‘Why Vote Conservative 2015?’, which sets out many policies which I hope will resonate locally.
For instance, a new drive for localism, giving power to people and communities; protecting the countryside; renegotiating our relationship with the EU, including new measures to manage migration, and cutting taxes.
I was pleased that, in his conference speech, the Prime Minister made strong pledges to cut taxes and renegotiate in Europe that echoed these themes.
This autumn, I will be holding events in the towns and villages around my constituency to talk about the book and give local people the opportunity to discuss their views with me.
If party conferences can seem remote affairs to most people, this one had direct relevance to us in West Sussex when the Transport Sectary, in his speech, said: ‘Soon we’ll set out plans to improve vital congested roads like... the A27’.
The only other major roads he mentioned were the A1 in the north and the A303, so I was encouraged by his comments.
I believe that the majority of local people - not just in the town but in other affected communities - are in favour of an Arundel bypass. I appreciate that some may have a different view.
It’s right to discuss the issues fully, and I will always listen carefully to what my constituents are saying. However, it’s clear that some of the opposition to upgrading the A27 is being led by anti-roads green groups who, frankly, oppose every and any new road scheme.
Most of my South Downs constituents would be stranded without cars, and I’m concerned about the local economy and the environmental damage of ‘rat-running’ through the historic town of Arundel, the South Downs and its villages.
We don’t have to choose between sensible road improvements and investment in public transport such as rail - both are important.
This week I’m speaking at a conference in Washington DC before heading back for a dinner in Steyning for the West Grinstead Ploughing Society on Saturday. I will be attending a service for the new Priest-in-Charge at Holy Trinity Church Hurstpierpoint on Sunday, and have a busy programme of constituency meetings next week.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.