SIR PETER BOTTOMLEY: A parliamentary week

Good news for up to 10,000 households in the constituency: the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government has now announced that there will be a consultation to deal with unreasonable and unfair leasehold terms.

Tim Loughton and Sir Peter Bottomley tasting wine at the Palace of Westminster
Tim Loughton and Sir Peter Bottomley tasting wine at the Palace of Westminster

Days earlier after I had spoken frankly about dealing with abuse of leaseholders, a person I may have offended said that I should be shot.

My feeling is that if describing in public the abuses experienced privately by first time buyers or the elderly seeking security in retirement brings that response, I should have been speaking earlier, more frequently and more loudly.

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It was good to cover those housing issues with other guests on Victoria Derbyshire’s BBC television programme.

I am always impressed by the effectiveness of hearing from the worried victims of a system that can be improved.

More cheerfully, Tim Loughton MP arranged for English producers of still and sparkling wines to show their products at the Palace of Westminster.

We can try to have more chosen for our own drinks list. Blind tastings will show the internationally competitive quality.

Shortly afterwards, the cider makers illustrated their range.

Between school and university, I had picked apples in Tasmania’s Huon Valley.

Oddly, a Japanese television crew interviewed me, thinking I was a typical Aussie.

The year was 1963, just after one of the coldest winters.

That Easter I enjoyed a week walking over the mountains with Tenzing Norgay, one of the two first men to reach Everest’s peak, assuming Leigh and Mallory had not been there first.

Work should be enjoyable. I was lucky to take up the habit in my teens, working on a farm and, because we then lived by London’s Albert bridge, at Battersea Fun Fair.

‘Roll up, roll up. Everyone’s a winner,’ was my cry at the stall.

When I first met the great late Pat O’Neill of Connaught Leisure, we realised we had been within yards decades ago.

This week I sponsored the reception at the House of Commons for BACTA, the UK’s amusement machine industry.

It provides low coast multi-generation entertainment, especially at the seaside.

Arcades, rides and all the entertainment traditionally provided by members of the Showmen’s Guild are much appreciated.

They have raised hundreds of thousands of pounds for charities. This year the good cause is Rays of Sunshine. It grants wishes to children with serious or life limiting conditions, giving the chance to forget illness and to do something they could only dream about.

Wishes make a child feel extra special and bring hope and happiness.

Families gain treasured memories of happy times.

A child can be a princess or a fireman for a day, visit Disneyland in Paris, own an iPad or meet a favourite pop star.

That evening, I made the first contribution for one special child’s dream. More generously, others stepped up and the total collection allowed two dreams to be realised.

Too often my day is taken up talking to mean business or to others who wilfully make worse the lives of others.

I am in a position when I can challenge injustice on behalf of the oppressed and the unfortunate.

Pleasantly, I also see the good side of people. When with an alcohol free drink, an English wine, beer or cider, I say cheers and thank you to everyone who brings sunshine, hope and comfort to others at Westminster or in and around Worthing.


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