It’s great to be back…and I’m hitting the ground running. The five weeks since the election have been a whirlwind. The handover process is shockingly archaic in Westminster and to set up all the equipment, software and stationery has taken all this time, and still not wholly sorted believe it or not!
I am happy to tell you though, that I finally have my offices sorted both in Westminster and here in Eastbourne. I’ve had many thousands of letters, emails and phone calls from all over town which, as the team are settling in and equipment is being installed, we are responding to as quickly as possible. Thank you for your patience.
It’s also been a productive few weeks. After a meeting meeting I held in Parliament between myself and the bosses of the two unions involved in the Southern Rail dispute, they confirmed to me they would call off planned strike action, set for early August, if the Transport Minister, Chris Grayling MP, agreed to talk to them personally to negotiate a resolution to this long-running dispute.
Well, later on in the day, the RMT and ASLEF unions confirmed that they will suspend the strikes after Chris Grayling finally responded to my calls that he agree to talks with the unions with a view to ending the strikes.
This is a significant breakthrough. Proper talks can now take place with the precise aim of bringing the dispute to an end. I want to take this opportunity to thank the General Secretaries respectively, Mr. Cash and Mr. Whelan, for joining me in Westminster for our press conference and for their willingness to make an open-hearted and positive offer to the Secretary of State, Chris Grayling. I hope he now responds in kind so that we can all move forward positively in the future.
In July I welcomed 230 supporters to our belated ‘Thank You Party’ for the many wonderful people who gave up so much of their time and money to help me get elected back into Parliament (over 1400 of you). We had a fantastic time at the Atlantis Nightclub, although, I must admit, my moves are a tad rusty. It’s a lonngggg time ago when I was in a nightclub!
Anyway folks. Thank you for all your help, support and encouragement. It’s good to be back, and good to be serving you once more as your MP. Parliament is in Recess now so I will be in Eastbourne seven days a week throughout most of August, so hope to see you around town.