Christmas is always a time to reflect on the year which is almost at an end.
Of course, one issue I have continued to pursue this year has been the effect of Covid-19 on our local community. As Crawley MP and Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for the Future of Aviation which I established last year I have continued lobbying to ensure sector recovery which so many Crawley jobs rely on.
At the start of 2021 I led a cross-party approach of more than 80 MPs and Peers to the Prime Minister urging for additional support for the aviation, travel and tourism industries. Some months later I secured and led a debate calling on Government to back this sector, with Crawley and Gatwick workers at the very forefront of my thoughts.
One of the reasons international travel has been able to open up has been the success of the UK’s vaccination programme. My thanks go to all involved in this ongoing effort including those preparing to step up again as we deal with the Omicron variant this winter. It was my privilege to open the purpose-built vaccination unit at Saxonbrook Medical in March.
Our nation marked the passing of HRH the Duke of Edinburgh in April and gave thanks for his many decades of service. As then-Leader of West Sussex County Council I had the honour of meeting him in 2006 when HM The Queen visited Crawley to open the new Thomas Bennett Community College in Tilgate.
The final of Euro 2020 in July was the first time many of us had ever seen the England men’s football team compete in a major final. Integral to this achievement was former Pound Hill Junior and Hazelwick School pupil Gareth Southgate, now of course the England manager.
Congratulations to Crawley-born cyclist Katie-George Dunlevy on winning two golds and a silver for Ireland at the Paralympic Games in Tokyo, and my best wishes to Crawley’s Brad Hall in the bobsleigh at next year’s Winter Olympics.
In October we lost my colleague, Sir David Amess MP, who was murdered as he undertook a surgery in his Southend West constituency. In what was Sir David’s untimely final contribution in the House of Commons, he spoke to support my Hen Caging (Prohibition) Bill.
This Bill seeks to stop egg-laying hens being placed in so-called enriched cages, and I was delighted when Sir David became a formal sponsor of this legislation. As I continue my representations on this issue the dedication, enthusiasm and commitment of Sir David will remain at the forefront of my mind.
My best wishes to all in Crawley this Christmas.
Henry Smith MP