Arundel and South Downs MP Andrew Griffith paid a visit to Amberley Museum on Monday morning (6th July) to see how they are preparing to re-open after being closed for three months.
The MP welcomes the Government’s announcement of a massive £1.57 billion rescue package for culture, arts and heritage. The world-leading package of support for the cultural and creative sectors is the culmination of weeks of work between Department for Culture, Media and Sport and Her Majesty’s Treasury.
Many of Britain’s cultural and heritage institutions have already received unprecedented financial assistance to see them through the pandemic including loans, business rate holidays and participation in the coronavirus job retention scheme. Funding to restart paused projects will also help support employment, including freelancers working in these sectors.
Andrew met Valerie Mills, Director of Amberley Museum, an important museum in the heart of the South Downs National Park, dedicated to preserving the industrial heritage of the South East. With 40 exhibits set over 36 acres displays visitors can learn more about 150 years of the South’s working past in what was once a busy chalk quarry and lime works.
Valerie said: “We were delighted to welcome Andrew to our museum and to show him just why it is so important to preserve the South Downs heritage and history. We are grateful for the help already received but we, and many museums like us, need a real safety-net to ensure we can keep going throughout this crisis so that we can still be here for schools and visitors when this is all over.”
Andrew Griffith said: “I am grateful to Valerie, Richard and Graham for showing me around their wonderful museum site which is full of fascinating artefacts from the South Downs rich history. I welcome the unprecedented additional support announced by the Government for the arts, theatres and museums this week as we all benefit from the tourism and hospitality that they support.”
Arundel & South Downs MP Andrew Griffith has welcomed news that St Philip Howard Catholic Secondary School will benefit from a share of funding to improve its school facilities.
The secondary school in Barnham has been granted an allocation of money for their building’s ageing plumbing system, to replace the primary heating and hot water plant.
This allocation forms part of an overall £434 million is being invested into the UK’s schools to ensure that they have well-maintained facilities.
Andrew Griffith said:
“I welcome the commitment to invest in our schools. As we emerge from lockdown we must focus on getting children back to school and ensuring they have the facilities needed to support high-quality education.”
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.