I would like to wish all of the residents of Hove and Portslade a Happy New Year. Representing my constituents in Parliament has been a humbling experience but I do have one New Year’s Resolution for 2012 – continue to work extremely hard for the residents of Hove and Portslade.
2011 was a fantastic year. Perhaps one of the most satisfying moments for me was bringing together the country’s top drug experts for a public debate in Hove Town Hall on drug deaths and homelessness. Another would be my successful campaign to have squatting criminalised. And then there was my thriving music competition ‘Rock the House’, of which 2011 was the inaugural year.
Below, I have outlined some of what I was up to in December as the Member of Parliament for Hove and Portslade.
Contacting local businesses
In Parliament, I am Chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Retail & Business Crime which campaigns for the interests of small traders. Having previously owned and nurtured a local manufacturing company that won two Queen’s Awards, Cash Bases in Newhaven, business is a huge passion of mine. Since being elected I have run a campaign to promote local business. Over the Christmas break, I delivered over 1,000 letters to businesses in Hove and Portslade. The letter asked local businesses for feedback that I could bring to Westminster.
Small businesses are the backbone of our economy. The voices of these businesses should be at the forefront of our policy decisions. It’s vital that feedback is passed up to ministers so that the decisions that are made help small businesses to grow and prosper.
Graham Cox – a new councillor in Westbourne
On 22nd December, Graham Cox was elected as a Conservative councillor for Westbourne ward to Brighton & Hove City Council following an energetic campaign. Cllr Cox makes a fantastic addition to the Conservative Group and is already hard at work as a true community champion for Westbourne. Well done to Graham.
The diabolical showing by the Greens, in third place, highlights how they have been rejected by the overwhelming majority of residents. It’s not surprising though given their proposal to raise Council Tax by the highest amount in the country whilst cutting vital library services.
Victoria Gardens campsite
Brighton’s untidiness made national news when campers, encouraged by the Green Party, took over the Victoria Gardens in the city centre several months ago. The camp resembled a huge derelict tip when it was destroyed by a storm earlier this week. The abandonment meant that the wreckage had to be cleared up but the Greens chose to fund the clean-up operation using taxpayers’ money, rather than their own party funds.
Unlike the Greens, I have consistently and repeatedly called on the campers to leave. Long-term camping in public spaces as a form of protest is unacceptable. The Green Party has used the camp as a mouth-piece for their own protests so should, quite rightly, have paid for its removal. Unfortunately, they forced the hardworking taxpayers of Brighton & Hove to pay for the mess that they encouraged.
Bullet For My Valentine, Anthrax and Busted come to Parliament
On 5th December, members of bands Bullet For My Valentine and Anthrax along with former Busted and Fightstar singer Charlie Simpson came as my guests to Parliament to discuss the issues of live music and copyright protection.
Matt Tuck from Bullet For My Valentine, Rob Caggiano from Anthrax, and Charlie Simpson visited as the latest supporters of Rock the House. Other rock stars who have recently agreed to become Patrons of the project are Ian Gillan from Deep Purple and Alice Cooper. After the success of the first competition in 2011, Rock the House will be coming back even louder in 2012.
It’s really encouraging to get support for Rock the House from such high profile bands and artists. I hope that with this increased level of recognition, the issues of copyright protection and intellectual property rights will be taken more seriously. Many budding musicians struggle to protect their music from illegal copying. I am fighting to ensure that their creations – the songs that we love to hear – are properly protected.
I will be in touch again next month with an update but, as always, please see www.mikeweatherleymp.com if you can’t wait that long!