The holiday season is a time for goodwill and togetherness, for thinking of others and opening our hearts to all.
The holiday season is a time for goodwill and togetherness, for thinking of others and opening our hearts to all. In Sussex we are brilliant at this, and you can see it everywhere – from the support we give to charities, to the Christmas fairs and carol services which bring communities together.
In recent weeks I have been lucky to meet community groups across the area, from the Neighbourhood Watch in Waldron to the Rotary Club in Wadhurst. These groups, like Age UK East Sussex who joined me at a recent advice surgery, provide companionship for the lonely, safety for the community, and are a source of vibrancy in more rural areas.
For some, however, ‘togetherness’ might be less obvious this year. When the actions of a few hundred people have caused misery for hundreds of thousands on our railways, a “goodwill to all” attitude does not seem that obvious.
Whether a strike day or a non-strike day, the service passengers receive does not deserve the name “service”. And though non-strike failures are those of Southern, failures I have raised directly with them and with the Prime Minister as we seek better service, it is impossible for the operator to address the day-to-day issues while it has to deal with the intransigence of the unions. If legislation to prevent ongoing strikes leading to persistent closure of critical public infrastructure is what we need, I will support whatever it takes to enable us to get to work and see our families.
On a brighter note, the holiday spirit was fully evident when I received over 300 stunning entries to my school Christmas card competition. Choosing the winner was a difficult but wonderful task, because the talent of the children and the commitment of the teachers was clear to see. Thanks to all the schools and congratulations to the winner, Emma from Mark Cross Primary.
I hope you had a wonderful Christmas, and I look forward to working with you in 2017 as we see the community spirit here in Sussex continue to flourish. I wish everyone a joyful and successful new year.