For so many of us in locations like Brighton and Hove, the knowledge that people, particularly young students are studying for degrees and other qualifications in further and higher education settings is evident, and the occasional sight of someone wearing a mortar board and a gown at this time of year reminds us that many of the courses have come to an end after several years of intensive work. This year I had the privilege of attending a graduation event organised by the University of Sussex and I was impressed at how much time and effort the University had invested in the session to help each group of family and friends to feel welcome and appreciated. To then discover how many of these events took place last week it is clear that they will have had a hard impact on the staff and lecturers involved along with Sanjeev Bhaskar whose appearance and engagement with the graduands he met for a few seconds each, was very encouraging and at times highly amusing. As I wrote here a couple of weeks ago, Joan Bakewell spoke in the House of Lords about how Universities like Sussex have helped places such as Brighton and Hove to avoid the negative economic impact of being a seaside location. Of course although the main degree and similar courses have come to an end, the campuses are now mostly full of people studying at the same premises for Summer courses or attending events and so it is clear that the impact on our economy is not limited to the conventional student year which starts each Autumn and ends about now. However for the lecturers and staff who focus on the main elements of the Universities, just like our Schools and Further Education centres, the end of courses gives them the time to start to prepare for the next academic year which will commence in a few weeks. The business I am part of carries out work in Universities and Schools and the next 6-12 weeks are in effect the busiest part of the year as we are asked to carry out extensive work in a range of settings with very limited time available.
Although Universities and Schools follow this sort of annual pattern, most other people do not, although of course many of us will take a few weeks holiday each year and for those with children the next few weeks are the times when this will happen. However in most work places the summer is no different to other times of year except that due to the holiday season the speed with which responses must occur, will hasten in some settings and slowdown in others. There is of course another well-known environment where a summer break emerges and although it is a very traditional practice, it increasingly raises questions about its effectiveness in a modern age. As we all know and many of us have strong concerns about, including Sanjeev Bhaskar who spoke about it last Wednesday, the latest Prime Minister moved into No 10 Downing Street a few days ago. Indeed he took the keys last Wednesday and then the following day as the Parliamentary website states “The House of Commons adjourned on Thursday 25 July 2019 for summer recess. The Commons Chamber will next sit on Tuesday 3 September 2019 at 2.30pm. Parliament does not sit all year round. During periods called recesses, MPs and Members of the House of Lords can carry out their other duties.”
Along with this five week break, the return will be temporary as on 12th September there will another break to allow the parties to hold their conferences which will include Labour here in Brighton. Of course it may well be the case that in previous and future years, some people would justify the combined 8 week break for such people attending the Palace of Westminster. However given that our nation is being promised that we will leave the EU on 31st October with or without a deal and apart from one very aggressive appearance in the House of Commons last Thursday, our new Prime Minister has not been involved in making any statements or decision making in an accountable setting which raises all sorts of concerns. It seems vital that Johnson and his new eclectic Cabinet are brought together and held to account long before the 3rd September. Given that the working week in Parliament is merely 4 days each week, we currently have 23 or 22 working Parliamentary days between now and the 31st October. This is not adequate and must surely be changed! Perhaps some form of petition or campaign is now needed.