I am seriously concerned at the recent tragic escalation of violence in the Gaza region, and I believe that an immediate ceasefire agreed by both sides is crucial. It is deeply disturbing that so many Palestinians in Gaza have been killed in this latest violence, the majority of whom are civilians and many of whom are children. The attacks on UN premises are completely unacceptable.

There can be no justification either for the indiscriminate rocket fire from Gaza against Israeli civilians or for the ruthless Israeli attackson the Palestinian population in Gaza. This is causing a dangerous security situation which cannot continue, and I condemn all atrocities or human rights abuses carried out by either side in this conflict.

I recognise that the people of Israel have the absolute right to live without constant fear for their security. However, the people of Gaza have the fundamental right to live in peace and security too, and the Palestinian civilian population cannot be held responsible for the actions of Hamas. Around 400,000 people in Gaza currently live without access to electricity, and stocks of fuel and medical supplies are running dangerously low. International humanitarian law must be upheld and Israel should lift its blockade of Gaza to ease this human suffering.

The only hope of breaking this cycle of violence is a return to peace negotiations.  My Lib Dem colleagues and I are committed to a negotiated peace settlement, which includes a genuine two-state solution, with Israel returned to its pre-1967 borders, save for mutually agreed land swaps, Jerusalem as the capital of both states, and a just settlement for refugees. I fear the recent violence can only set back the time when a lasting peace solution can be enacted.

 I have contacted the Department for International Development with my concerns, and that of many of my constituents, and have informed me they will be making available emergency support including health care, clean water, blankets and cooking equipment. The support builds on existing crucial programmes at this time of crisis including essential services to Palestinian refugees across the Middle East and support for UN Relief and Works Agency to help provide health services to the 70% of the Gazan population who are Palestinian refugees and to shelter those fleeing the fighting.

 Work is happening with the UN Access Coordination Unit to support liaising with authorities on all sides to get medical and emergency cases out of Gaza and help to get essential supplies in.

Green light for wind farm “brilliant news for Newhaven” – Says Newhaven MP

Newhaven MP Norman Baker warmly welcomes news that Rampion offshore wind farm, off the coast of Sussex, has today been given consent from the government to go ahead.

This project is expected to support over 750 jobs and bring over £2 billion of investment into the UK’s economy.Once built, the wind farm would generate enough electricity to power approximately 450,000 homes.

Norman has been actively lobbying Energy Secretary Ed Davey on this issue, both to grant permission and to do so quickly to bring further increased investment into the area and securing greener energy sources.

Norman says “This is great news for Newhaven and something I have lobbied hard for. It is positioning Newhaven very well as the South East Centre of offshore renewable technology for the century ahead. It is great for the economy and great for the environment

It is a good thing the Energy Secretary has not listened to the ‘naysayers’ who continually talk down renewable energy.

This offshore renewable energy source will be able to provide energy for approximately 450,000 homes and is an investment in our energy security for the future, helping to make Britain self-sufficient in the future.”

Local MP visits Lewes Food Market to toast fourth birthday celebrations

Lewes Food Market

Local Lib Dem MP Norman Baker  attended Lewes Food Market on Friday 4 July to celebrate its fourth birthday at the Market Tower, giving an impromptu speech to the packed event.

Attendees were treated to slices of cake and fruit punch as they browsed the market stalls, taking time to sample fresh seasonal produce, fish, cheese and locally-sourced honey. A local busker added to the ambiance with some live guitar music.

Customers were also able to purchase savoury pies and pastries, dips, dumplings, chutneys and cakes. Lewes Food Market runs every Friday between 9:30am-2:30pm at the Market Tower all year round.

Norman says: “Having launched this weekly event four years ago, I am delighted to see it continue to go from strength to strength. Lewes Food Market continues to showcase the town’s community spirit, not least with some fantastic food offerings.”

Local MP welcomes award of £19 million funding to bring new era of regeneration for Newhaven

Local Lib Dem MP Norman Baker has welcomed a £19 million boost of funding to a six year plan to increase jobs and housing in Newhaven.

Close partnership working between local councils has secured £10 million for a new port access road in Newhaven and £9 million for flood defences – including a promise of £6 million from the Environment Agency. Both schemes will open up major sites for housing, employment and new harbour facilities.

Funding for the schemes will come from Local Enterprise Partnerships, following this week’s announcement of a Government “growth deal”. In addition, to previously-confirmed funding from East Sussex County Council of £13 million, the Coast to Capital LEP will invest a further £10 million on the port access road and in partnership with the South East LEP will contribute £3 million towards improving flood defences.

Norman says:“The South East Growth Deal is substantial investment in our local infrastructure. “This funding will create thousands of local jobs, and the port access road should generate hundreds of new homes. The government’s significant investment in transport infrastructure and business support will help the UK to compete internationally.

This is not just as short term fix but as a long term investment in our region”