Warren Morgan: We must stand with those who have lost loved ones

Like most Sussex people, I will probably never forget last Saturday.

Like most Sussex people, I will probably never forget last Saturday. On my way to the Amex on a hot afternoon, someone said they had seen a comment on Twitter about a plane going down at the airshow. From the top deck of that bus, we all looked west and saw a pall of black smoke drifting out towards the Channel.

I’ve watched the airshow from the garden of a family home near the airport several times in years gone past and it always made me nervous, seeing and feeling the jets fly low and fast, imagining what might happen.

Last Saturday afternoon, it did. The images, filmed from all angles, of such incredible horror on roads most of us know well will be indelible. The loss to families across the city and across Sussex will be indescribable.

The city council stepped in within hours, to offer whatever practical support was needed by our neighbouring authorities, the police, and others.

We will continue to help in whatever ways we can, and to support the families of those who lost their lives. Our flags have been at half-mast all week and we have opened a book of condolences at Brighton Town Hall. I, and many colleagues, have also signed the online book of condolence - where there is also link to a joint fund to help the relatives get through the coming weeks and months. I’m so grateful to all council staff who have helped in dealing with this tragic event.

Those who witnessed what happened, those who had narrow escapes, those who would have, should have, been there at that particular time, but - because of a random twist of fate - were not, will also need care and support. Injuries are not always visible.

Think of those emergency service personnel who raced to the scene, who have spent the past week dealing with the aftermath. They, too, will need care and support - as well as our profound thanks - for doing a job that, on this occasion more than normal, is too hard for most of us to even contemplate.

In what was probably the biggest single loss of life in Sussex for more than 70 years, there will be lessons to be learned and decisions about the future to be taken. The time for debate on that is not now. Now, we must stand with those who have lost loved ones, support them, and come to terms with what has happened.

Councillor Warren Morgan, leader of the Labour Group, is leader of Brighton and Hove City Council.