Francis Maude: update on monitoring of Balcombe drill

Horsham MP Francis Maude
Horsham MP Francis Maude

Last week I explained my thoughts on the drilling at Balcombe – a very important local and national issue. This was a last minute change as I had planned to tell readers about a busy day of constituency visits and meetings so I’ll report back now instead.

It was a typical day of locally focused meetings but unusually I was mostly based in my Horsham office – I normally like to get out and about. The day began with an extremely valuable meeting with our area manager from the Environment Agency. It was a chance to discuss the fast-moving and sensitive situation in Balcombe where, at the time, protesters and local residents were challenging Cuadrilla’s preparations to drill an exploratory borehole to see how much shale oil, or indeed, gas is stored underground.

It was an opportunity for me to seek clarification on the next steps and for us to discuss just how keenly the Environment Agency is monitoring what’s going on.

Next, a meeting with our branch of the National Farmers Union – an ideal opportunity to discuss both local and national issues that affect our local farmers. Whilst we spent much time discussing the Common Agricultural Policy and other truly farming matters, I was reminded that, for example, rural broadband and the level of service received has a huge impact on these business people. It’s a significant issue for farmers and other residents and business owners and one that I’ve made some enquiries about since I returned to Westminster.

I’m delighted that we agreed to meet on a more regular basis.

Thankfully I did manage to see some of the beautiful late July sunshine when I ventured out to the West Street branch of LloydsTSB. I’d been invited to visit to talk to their regional management team about business in the Horsham area. Visits like this are really important for me as MP to understand the local economy and I can feed my findings into discussions with my Parliamentary and Cabinet colleagues. Whilst we focused on lending and savings, I also learned a lot about the bank’s local and national social action endeavours – it was a really useful and informative session.

After a brief lunch in the Carfax – soaking up the sun and Horsham’s vibrant cafe culture - I went on to meet a group of constituents concerned about housing development in their village and then a catch-up with a couple of our county and district councillors.

As is often the case, the day concluded with a busy surgery – I’ll be away for a couple of weeks this month and it was good to meet as many people as possible before then. So, a very brief over-view of the day, which I hope readers find informative.