Dear Resident,

Welcome to my first newsletter of 2023, I wish everyone a Happy New Year!

We began the year with some great news for Bexhill and Sidley when we found out last week that we were successful in our bid to the Levelling Up Fund. Over £19million of government investment will help fund the transformation of the De La Warr Pavilion on Bexhill seafront and the development of new community facilities in Sidley, creating new jobs, upskilling local residents and bolstering career progression in the area’s creative and cultural sectors, particularly for young people. More on this below.

It has been a busy month working on local issues as you will in the newsletter. At the start of the year, my team and I sat down to discuss my priorities for the year ahead and we are fully focussed on delivering on what is important for local residents and helping people with matters they are struggling with.

Best wishes,


Levelling Up

Earlier this month, I was given the fantastic news that Rother District Council's bid to the Levelling Up Fund was successful. I have been closely involved in this bid and I am absolutely delighted that we have achieved this £19million investment to help residents in Bexhill and Sidley (our most deprived wards) by delivering jobs, training, culture and education. 
By building state of the art community facilities in Sidley and investing in the De La Warr Pavilion, we are securing a future for local people and inspiring confidence for further investment in our town which is good for business and economic growth.

You can read the full press release here

You can read more about the background to the bid in my latest column for the Bexhill and Battle Observer here 

Photo courtesy of Lineker Photography

Water supply resilience

I continue to follow up with SE Water and regulatory bodies about water loss incidents last year which impacted local residents across Rother

I met Rebecca Pow MP, Minister with responsibility for water and flooding at Defra to discuss my concerns about the lack of resilience at local water treatment and pumping stations.


Observer Article 13 January

In my first Observer column for 2023, I set out my local priorities for the year ahead which include planning reform, sea defences, access to health care, sewage pollution, transport, education and the environment.

Read more here

Southern Housing

I held my bi-monthly meeting with senior managers of Southern Housing (formerly Optivo) last week. We discussed how the recent merger of Optivo and Southern Housing will impact residents. I was assured that the increased homes portfolio resulting from the merger is matched by the increased number of staff to support their tenants. The 2,500 staff of the merged organisation are enthusiastic and committed. 

We also discussed their aim to bring property maintenance back in-house,; affordable and shared ownership properties they are delivering across the area for local people as well as some individual casework matters.   

Environment Agency Meeting on Sea Defences

I held a meeting with officers from the Environment Agency who are leading the project for the new sea defence contract from 2025 for an update on progress. The 100 year project to defend the coastline from severe weather events and rising sea levels is likely to be adaptive rather than one major project to allow for changes in climate change calculations and new ideas for coastal defences.
For more information about the project and to sign up for updates from the EA, please follow this link

Bexhill News

It was a real pleasure to sit down with Kim Mayo, Editor of the Bexhill News to be interviewed for the next edition of the the local free newspaper for the town and surrounding area. Kim told me that the Bexhill News is proving very popular with local residents who enjoy reading the monthly paper. It is a great read.
Copies of the newspaper are available in local shops and supermarkets

St Mary's School and 6th Form

I was pleased to meet some of the students from St Mary's School and 6th Form in Bexhill. School councillors and public services students had a lot of thoughtful questions for me about an MP's work, life in Westminster, autism,  education and support for special needs. 

Transport Select Committee

Earlier this month, I appeared before the Transport Select Committee in my capacity as Rail Minister; the first time I have appeared before the committee that I used to chair since becoming a Minister. We discussed a number of issues across my portfolio, including the progress being made in reaching a settlement to end the rail strikes, the performance of train operating companies, workplace reform and why it is needed, and how we can improve passenger experiences at stations. I was also able to set out my five priorities as Minister, which you can watch here.

St Barnabas Church, Bexhill

I met with the team of St Barnabas Church in Bexhill who recently held a community consultation on the future of the church building.  'Barnabas Futures' has been set up by the Parish and the Diocese of Chichester, to review the best way to secure the future of St Barnabas Church.
They would welcome input from community groups and residents. If if you'd like to share ideas or have an input or simply find out more, you can contact them by email: [email protected] 
An exhibition of developing plans will be held at the church in late February.

New Hospital Building Programme

I joined my East Sussex MP colleagues for a meeting with Lord Markham who is the Minister responsible for the New Hospital Programme.  East Sussex Healthcare Trust is one of the 48 local hospital trusts which will benefit from new hospital buildings by 2030. Read more about the meeting here
Read more about the local hospital plans on the hospital website here   

More hospital news

Last week, planning approval was granted for a new three-storey building that will house operating theatres and a 24-bed hospital ward.

The facility is intended to reduce waiting lists for elective care by increasing the number of patients who can be seen each day. 


Bewl Water Sports Clubs

I arranged a meeting for water sports clubs, Southern Water,  Bewl Events and Wealden district councillors for the area to discuss possibilities and options for new facilities for the sports clubs to help secure their future and meet safeguarding requirements.

The discussions were helpful and I thank everyone for making time for the meeting. 

Local Abattoirs

Since my last newsletter, I have received a reply from the Farming Minister about the loss of the last remaining abattoir in East Sussex. He has confirmed that this is an issue which Defra are very aware of and they have been trialling mobile abattoirs. I have asked for a meeting with the Minsiter to discuss how this solution could work for farmers in East Sussex. 
Read more here 


Little Common School

I was delighted to meet the school council at Little Common School and answer their questions about the role of an MP. We compared the similarities of our roles representing others. 
Read more about my visit here 


Bexhill Jobs Fair 10 March 2023 

The Bexhill Jobs and Apprenticeships Fair is shaping up to be a really exciting event for school leavers, career changers and those looking to return to the workplace. 

You can sign up and find out more about the exhibitors here 

Southern Water and Sewage

Sally-Ann Hart (MP for Hastings and Rye) held our quarterly meeting with the Chief Executive and Chief Operating Officer of Southern Water this month.

As local MPs for coastal communities we are determined that all stakeholders and responsible bodies work together to eliminate Combined Sewage Overflow (CSO) incidents. We also discussed a project to identify the source of pollution entering the sea from the Egerton Park stream outlet onto the beach, 

You can read a full report on my website at this link 

Hospital Discharges Pilot Funding

 Sussex is one of six areas trialling new ideas to free up hospital beds and make sure patients get the right care at the right time. 
Our NHS and adult social care teams already work closely to ensure that local people ready for discharge have the right support in place when they leave hospital, be that to a community setting or home. East Sussex Hospitals Trust is therefore ideally placed to take part in this trial which will deliver better health outcomes for patients and free up hospital beds for those requiring urgent care.

Read more here 

Netherfield Shop - Finalists!

In my November newsletter, I wrote about the Netherfield Shop, Cafe and Post Office being nominated for a Rural Oscar award. I can now share the great news that they are Regional Finalists! Well done. 

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