My column for West Sussex newspapers:
I hope that readers enjoyed Christmas and are looking forward to celebrating the end of one year and the start of a fresh one. It was special that amongst the challenges that any family celebration presents for the vast majority dealing with Covid was not one of them thanks to the success of the UK’s vaccine programme.
It still takes some getting used to that after delivering her message for 70 years – including the very first televised address - Her Late Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II was no longer with us on Christmas Day. Instead, we saw King Charles deliver his first address. In my view he hit exactly the right tone, particularly when talking about how ‘Christmas is a particularly poignant time for all of us who have lost loved ones. We feel their absence at every familiar turn of the season and remember them in each cherished tradition’.
At the start of the coldest month of the year, no one should be living on our streets. Homelessness is a complex issue, often involving drugs or other addictions, but we should all be glad that this Government has made ending rough sleeping in our town centres a priority. Last week, £654 million of taxpayer’s money was given to local authorities nationally to support them to prevent and tackle homelessness over the next two years. That included almost £2 million for Arun District Council and more than £800,000 each for Chichester and Horsham Councils.
My own biggest hope for 2023 is that it is the year in which Russia’s war in Ukraine ends. No one is suffering more from this unnecessary conflict than the Ukrainian people themselves but with its enormous impact on the cost of energy, everyone is impacted including households across West Sussex and the broader UK economy. I don’t forget that Russian parents whose sons are being conscripted and killed in Putin’s illegal war are victims too.