Easter is almost upon us. After a busy week debating Local Government finance, Police resources, Russia and where our passports are produced, Parliament has entered recess for two weeks. I will not be in need of a passport over Easter because I will be spending the bulk of my fortnight in the constituency and hoping that Spring will do as its name suggests and bring forth a burst of fine weather.
Easter weekend, however, will be spent with my mother and sisters up in Buckingham. This is the town where I was brought up. Whilst I may be travelling northwards, I am sure that many constituents will be inviting their families and friends to travel south to stay with them in East Sussex.
Buckingham, being near to Milton Keynes, and with housebuilding bringing it a mile nearer every year, has no lack of young people and families setting up home. East Sussex, in contrast, has a different dynamic. With our beautiful coast and countryside, we tend to attract those retiring and wishing to get away from the metropolis. This is fantastic because it gives us an incredibly active community where people look out for each other. However, the squeeze on property prices means that we have a declining working age population which will not serve us well when it comes to having a balanced community.
My challenge for every constituent hosting their children and grandchildren over Easter is to sell this beautiful place to them and tempt them to move nearer. I have travelled the length and breadth of this country and I still maintain that you will not find a landscape as beautiful as ours within reach of the capital. Admittedly, commuting to London takes a while, if this is a requirement, but I have been doing it daily for over ten years now. With modern technology allowing us to take our offices wherever we go, working on the train is now little different to sitting at a desk.
In order to help you market our special place, I have a few recommendations. For the coast, a walk along the seafront at Bexhill is the place to start. Thereafter, a drive along Norman’s Bay to Pevensey is an invitation to both our wonderful waters and the beauty of Pevensey Levels. Further inland, Battle with its famous Abbey is not only a wonderful historic town to view but, with its range of shops, a great place to browse and buy. Our beautiful villages which, in the 200 miles of my constituency, span from Five Ashes in the west to Peasmarsh in the east, host our wonderful pubs, churches and walks. History also surrounds us. Bodiam Castle and Batemans are our National Trust treasures but a walk through any of our high streets will attest to the centuries inhabited by those who have developed our landscape.
For those of you who are able to take time out for Easter, I hope that this gives the chance to reflect on how fortunate we are to live in such a beautiful part of the world and invite others to come and enjoy the rich tapestry which makes East Sussex such a wonderful county. It is easy to open a newspaper and find reasons to be downbeat. It is even easier to step outside and discover many local treasures to enjoy and celebrate. I hope all constituents, and readers from further afield, have a restful Easter.