Category: News

Local Councillors abseil Arundel Castle for children’s charity

Two local Councillors in Arundel abseiled down Arundel Castle on Sunday (15 March) to raise money for the NSPCC.

Gary Markwell, who represents Arundel & Courtwick Division on West Sussex County Council and Grant Roberts, who is an Arun District Councillor for Arundel & Walberton ward, raised £965 between them for the charity as part of the NSPCCs celebrations marking 60 years of fundraising in Sussex.

Money raised for the challenge will help fund the ‘Speak out, stay safe’ programme to reach primary school children in Sussex, giving them knowledge to protect themselves from abuse.

The councillors, who braved very windy conditions to abseil 180ft down the Bakehouse Tower of Arundel Castle, were rewarded with a commemorative medal presented by the Deputy Mayor of Arundel, Angela Standing.

After his decent down the castle wall, Gary Markwell said “Having a fear of heights, this was probably the most terrifying thing I have ever done, but I am delighted to have raised such a large sum for the NSPCC”

Grant Roberts, who was joined on the abseil challenge by his mother added “As well as raising funds for such a great cause, I was also especially proud to watch my 80 year old mother, Patricia, complete the abseil with me. She is such an inspiration”.

MP asks County Council to remove school from closure list

MP for Arundel & South Downs Andrew Griffith has responded to the West Sussex County Council’s consultation which proposes to close the Clapham & Patching C of E Primary School. 


Mr Griffith is opposed to the closure and has asked the Council to remove the school from the consultation process.  He has added his support to the school’s plans to become an academy with the South Downs Education Trust which has the full support of the headteacher, the governors, the parents, the Diocese and the local community. 


In his letter, the MP highlights the concerns felt amongst parents, staff and residents who have set out their own strong reasons to keep the small school open.   He points out that a small mainstream setting offers an important choice for parents across West Sussex who do so for their children’s education and wellbeing.  


Mr Griffith points out that he met parents, pupils and staff at the school in January.  “The parents whom I spoke to impressed on me the reasons for choosing a small school to support their children’s unique needs.  None of the parents felt their children would cope in a larger school or receive the special attention they currently do to help progress their learning and confidence.  The leadership of the school ensures that special needs are met in the same setting as the mainstream pupils and without detriment to other pupils. It is a happy and caring school with engaged pupils and dedicated teachers and staff.” 


He emphasises that funding is not an issue for the school which is declared to be in good financial health, and notes that the Government is increasing funding for primary schools with a planned increase in 2020-21 from the current minimum per pupil amount of £3,500 to £3,750, and a further increase to £4,000 in 2021-22. 


The MP draws attention to the far-reaching impacts a closure would have on the families, and into the local community where the school has been located for over 200 years with strong links to the local church.  He wrote: “A village school is attractive for new families and Clapham needs to continue to attract young people to live in the village to benefit the local community. There are a number of substantial housing development plans being proposed for this constituency and across West Sussex and in the context of this future expectation of substantial population growth we may shortly be facing a shortage of schools and school places.” 


The MP states “it would be remiss to force the closure of any school that is performing well, valued by parents, rated ‘Good’ by OFSTED and in good financial health.” 


His letter concludes with a request for the Council “to now take steps to remove the school from the consultation just as has been recently done for Stedham Primary School.” 


The consultation closes on Monday 16th March. 

Local Councillor abseiling Arundel Castle for children’s charity

A West Sussex County Councillor is set to abseil down Arundel Castle to raise money for the NSPCC.

Gary Markwell, who represents Arundel & Courtwick Division on West Sussex County Council aims to raise £500 for the charity as part of their celebrations marking 60 years of NSPCC fundraising in Sussex.

Money raised for the challenge will help fund the ‘Speak out, stay safe’ programme to reach primary school children in Sussex, giving them knowledge to protect themselves from abuse.

The event will take place on Sunday 15 March and will see volunteers abseil 180ft down the Bakehouse Tower of Arundel Castle to help the charity raise vital funds.

Gary said “The NSPCC is a charity close to my heart and therefore I was delighted to agree to take part in this challenge to help them raise funds to deliver their speak out, stay safe programme to school children throughout Sussex.

He added “I’ve never abseiled before so it’s a new type of challenge for me, and being scared of heights it’s not something I would normal spend my time doing, but I’m looking forward to supporting this excellent project”.

To donate to Gary’s abseil challenge, visit his JustGiving page, or to see the results of his challenge, visit his Facebook page.

MP supports Co-op campaign to tackle retail crime

Arundel & South Downs MP Andrew Griffith visited the Co-op store in Steyning High Street last Friday (14 February) to hear how retail crime is affecting shop floor staff and looking at ways to fix the problem.

The MP met Jenny Alleyne from the Co-op’s Head Office along with the area management team and local store colleagues, to discuss a programme of work which the retailer is undertaking to make shop floor work safer.

The ‘Safer colleagues, safer communities’ report looks at the importance of looking after their staff, noting “stock and property can be replaced, people can’t.”   The report also outlines their response to the growing issue.   This includes upgraded CCTV, staff headsets providing connectivity to colleagues, and a significant partnership with SECOM which provides remote security monitoring.

The MP heard the shocking national statistics that every day 250 shop workers are the victim of a violent incident, with many thefts involving confrontation and weapons.  The most common assaults happen when shop-workers are simply trying to enforce the law by challenging and verifying the age of those wishing to buy age-restricted products.  If shop-workers don’t enforce the law then they are personally liable for breaking it.

Mr Griffith met one of the young employees from Co-op’s Steyning store and listened to his personal account of being assaulted when simply doing his job.  The impact was felt, not only by the employee, but also his family and colleagues.

The MP tweeted after his visit: “This really is important to me.  Staff in our retail stores need to be – and to feel – safe.  As @KatyBourne knows, offenders must be tackled and prosecuted.  No one is above the law and no crime is too small to be followed up.”

Mr Griffith added: “I am grateful to the team at Steyning’s Co-op, and the store’s head office, for raising this issue with me.  It was important for me to hear about this first-hand and to meet the staff affected but these specific crimes.  I have offered my support in looking at how we can tackle this locally and nationally and will be discussing this when I next meet with the Police and Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne.”

Andrew Griffith holds first advice surgery

The new Arundel & South Downs MP Andrew Griffith kicked off his first full constituency day with a surgery in Hurstpierpoint, providing assistance to constituents across a number of issues on Friday (10 January).


The surgery was held in the Hurstpierpoint Village Centre.  Andrew was keen to make his first task in the constituency listening to his constituents’ issues and providing support in his capacity as an MP.


The MP will be hosting a regular surgery across the constituency in the coming weeks.  Once they have been scheduled, they will be advertised in the local press and on his website.  Meetings are offered on an appointment basis to be booked through his office.


An MP advice surgery is an opportunity for constituents to raise concerns or seek help on matters affecting them.  The MP can take those matters up as casework, or make representations to councils and Ministers on behalf of the constituent.  Sometimes people just wish to share details about a local cause or organisation.


Andrew Griffith said: “I really enjoyed my first surgery today and meeting everyone.  I found the meetings interesting and insightful and we covered a broad range of local issues.  I regard advice surgeries as one of the most important aspects to working as an MP.


“I will be taking action on all of the matters raised to me today and hope that I am able to help.  I look forward to meeting more constituents at forthcoming surgeries.”

Andrew Griffith welcomes boost for small businesses

Conservative Parliamentary Candidate for Arundel & South Downs, Andrew Griffith, has welcomed the announcement that the next Conservative Government will raise the employment allowance and reduce the burden of business rates in a boost for thousands of small businesses in West Sussex.


Petworth resident, Andrew, is also Boris Johnson’s Chief Business Adviser and played a key role in helping to shape the Conservatives ‘small business friendly’ policies whilst working until recently in No 10 Downing Street.


The detail of today’s announcement is:


Reducing the burden of business rates. Business rates are one of the top concerns of British businesses so a Conservative majority Government will launch a fundamental review at our first budget, consulting widely. We will reduce the overall burden of business rates as part of this review.


Raising the Employment Allowance from £3,000 to £4,000. Employers pay Class 1 National Insurance Contributions on their employees’ earnings. The Employment Allowance is currently claimed by over 1 million employers to reduce their employer NICs bills by up to £3,000. The next Conservative Government will increase the Employment Allowance to £4,000, which will provide a tax cut of up to £1,000 for more than half a million businesses. This will amount to almost a half a billion-pound tax cut for small businesses.



Andrew Griffith, Conservative Parliamentary Candidate for Arundel & South Downs, said:


“Small businesses are the lifeblood of the West Sussex economy. Our market towns such as Storrington, Steyning, Hurstpierpoint and Hassocks are chock full of exactly those businesses which will benefit from today’s announcement – helping to boost local employment.”


The announcement has also been welcomed by business groups with the Federation of Small Businesses saying:


“Cutting the jobs tax is a strong pro-small business move, as it will help half a million small firms raise wages and keep more people in work.

“A pledge to finally cut the burden of business rates is welcome – action on business rates has long been a priority of FSB’s small business members.

“Small businesses – and their staff – will be relieved to see the issues that matter to their livelihoods placed firmly on the agenda at this election. A typical constituency has 25,000 people working in a small business, around 7,000 of whom are self-employed. Political parties should be competing to show how they could run a Government that improves their livelihoods, deals with rising costs and ensures small businesses remain a strong part of our local communities.

Andrew Griffith calls upon Liberal Democrats to retract false claims

Conservative Parliamentary Candidate for Arundel & South Downs, Andrew Griffith, has called upon the local Lib Dems to retract an election leaflet containing false data.

In an echo of a similar scandal in other constituencies, local Lib Dems have distributed a leaflet to local voters claiming to have carried out ‘recent polling’ which shows them in second place behind the Conservatives.


In fact, the data is a discredited projection and no local polling has taken place. The company making the projection, Survation, makes clear that it uses only national data and should not be used for this purpose but that has not stopped the Lib Dems trying to mislead voters.


In fact, at the last general election in 2017, the Lib Dem candidate in Arundel & South Downs came a very distant third with less than 8% of the votes cast and well behind Labour on nearly 23%.


Andrew Griffith, Conservative Parliamentary Candidate for Arundel & South Downs, said:


“It’s no wonder trust in politics is at an all-time low when we see this sort of behaviour. I call upon the Lib Dem candidate to apologise for trying to mislead voters and to undertake not to distribute further or to repeat these false claims.”

Andrew Griffith selected for Arundel & South Downs

Andrew Griffith has been selected by local Conservatives as their candidate to fight the upcoming General Election in the seat of Arundel & South Downs following the announcement that former MP Nick Herbert would not be standing in the seat he has held since 2005.


At a meeting of members of the Conservative Party held on Monday (11 November), Andrew was given the full support of its members to be their Party’s representative for the important seat.


Arundel & South Downs is a large rural constituency in West Sussex, taking in a significant stretch of the South Downs National Park, West Sussex villages and  market towns including Arundel, Henfield, Petworth, Pulborough, Storrington, Steyning, Hassocks and Hurstpierpoint.


Andrew, who lives in the constituency with his family, has long standing business experience with a 25 year career as Finance Director and then Chief Operating Officer at Sky and as a former Chairman of Just Eat. In July, in one of his very first appointments, the Prime Minister Boris Johnson, appointed Andrew as his Chief Business Advisor in No10 Downing Street where he has been responsible for working to make Britain the best place to start, grow and run a business.


Speaking after the meeting, the Acting-Chairman of Arundel & South Downs Conservative Association, Cllr Joy Dennis, said: “We are delighted that Andrew Griffith has been selected as our Parliamentary candidate by local Conservative Party members and we are all looking forward to working with him to get him elected as the next Member of Parliament so that he can work hard for local residents throughout the constituency.”


Following his successful selection, Andrew Griffith said:


“Living in the constituency with my family, I am honoured to have been selected as the Conservative candidate and pledge to be a strong local voice for residents.  More than ever before, Westminster needs people with achievements outside of politics and, with my background in business, I hope to bring some common sense and the ability to get things done. Locally, I will fight to protect our countryside from unsustainable overdevelopment, for better bus and train services, the A27 Arundel Bypass and for more police in our towns and villages. A vote for the Conservatives on 12th December is the only way to get Brexit done and to allow us to move on.”

Local Councillors united on Arundel Bypass route

Local Arundel Councillors representing both Arun District Council and West Sussex County Council have all united to support the Magenta route for the A27 Arundel Bypass in the latest consultation being carried out by Highways England.


The consultation, which is currently taking place until the 24th October, is being re-run after the result of the previous consultation faced a judicial review of the process. This has led to construction of the bypass delayed from Spring 2020 to late 2022.


Six different route options for the bypass have been included in the latest consultation, including two online routes and four offline routes, however, Arundel Town Council as well as the OneArundel group have both already ruled out the two online routes which do not bypass the town but instead follow the current route of the A27 cutting through the town of Arundel.


West Sussex County Councillor, Gary Markwell, who represents Arundel & Courtwick division, said “Having spoken to many local residents there is a clear majority who believe the bypass must be just that, a bypass of the town of Arundel. Local residents do not want a new dual carriageway cutting through the middle of their town”.


“Having sought reassurances from Highways England that all of the route options being consulted on are financial viable, I believe the best route for local residents to get behind to ensure a real bypass is actually built is the magenta route”.


Arun District Councillor Grant Roberts added “I have been intensely pushing Highways England to clarify ambiguities over viability and affordability. Whilst I believe that the Crimson route could have potentially received the widest support, I have concluded that the likelihood of it receiving planning permission is extremely low. Given that, and whilst looking for the “least worst option”, I therefore determine, on balance, that Magenta should be supported to become the preferred route”.