Sevenoaks Preserved in Boundary Plans

Michael has welcomed the Boundary Review proposals that largely maintain the current borders of his Sevenoaks constituency.

Revised proposals for the shape of parliamentary seats were published Tuesday (17/10) by the Boundary Commission for England.  Under the new proposals, the Sevenoaks constituency will gain the Wrotham, Ightham and Stansted ward from Tonbridge, bringing the size of the Sevenoaks electorate to 72,561.

The review aims to make constituencies more equal in size.  Parliament approved the principle of reducing the size of the House of Commons in 2011.  If the majority of MPs support Tuesday’s detailed plans, the proposed new constituencies will take effect in 2022.

Michael said: ‘I warned the Commission about moving wards out of my constituency, and happily they have listened.  Instead of losing constituents, I am set to gain.  It is right that the fundamental shape of the Sevenoaks constituency is respected.’

The proposals are now open to a public consultation until 11 December 2017. Comments can be made via https://www.bce2018.org.uk/node/6488.

Michael will support the proposals, but once again he will also request that the name of the constituency be formally recognised as ‘Sevenoaks & Swanley’.

Michael Opens New Wound Centre

Michael has officially opened a new specialist wound centre at Sevenoaks Hospital.

The new centre, which has been operational since May, is staffed by advanced wound nurses supported by tissue viability specialist nurses.  The clinic means patients in Sevenoaks with a chronic, complex or surgical wound now have access to specialist care.

As part of his official duties, Michael was given a tour of the centre.  He was joined by Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust’s Chief Executive, Paul Bentley, and Chairman, David Griffiths, as well as dozens of guests.

Michael spoke to some of the patients on his tour.  One patient, Monica Wain (90) from Sevenoaks said: ‘[The staff] really know what they are doing here and in two months they healed my wounds.  It’s marvellous.’

The clinic is piloting an innovative new wound-monitoring app, WoundMatrix, that supports clinicians to heal wounds and pressure ulcers faster in the centre, which Michael was keen to inspect.

He said: ‘This new centre is an important addition to our local health services because treating wounds requires specialist ongoing care.  Its unique state-of-the-art equipment helps keep Sevenoaks one step ahead in the services it provides.’

Spotting Invisible Wounds

‘Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.’

A saying that dates back to 1862, passed down through the generations; it embodies those British stereotypes of supressing emotions and stiffening the upper-lip.

Yet old adages contain old ideas, and such sayings standardise a stigma that we now need to move beyond: how we speak about mental health problems.

World Mental Health Day on Tuesday reminded us that 1 in 4 adults and 1 in 10 children are affected by mental illnesses.  The majority do not speak up and do not seek help.

By changing the way we discuss mental illnesses, we can start to provide people the support they need.

That’s why I am proud of this Government’s record investment in mental healthcare; mental and physical health now have parity in law.

Last week, the Prime Minister announced a review of the Mental Health Act to tackle longstanding injustices in our mental health system.  It’s about helping some of the most vulnerable in society.

It’s also about relieving our straining public services.  The NHS’s challenge with mental illnesses is marked by a 43 per cent increase in detainments within the past decade alone.  Around 40 per cent of police business in Kent is concerned with mental health problems.

To deal with this, we’ve increased the number of psychiatric consultants and we’ve taken steps to ensure that many thousands more young people will receive the right treatment at the right time by 2020.

Compared to 2010, 40 per cent more people access mental health services every day.  The number of mental health patients being held inappropriately in police cells is also down by 80 per cent over the same period.

We’re lucky that West Kent MIND, which has provided vital support for years, is based in Sevenoaks.  On Tuesday, they held training sessions for schools and businesses to facilitate workplace wellbeing. On Sunday, they’ll host a fun run in Knole Park to raise further awareness.

Tomorrow, I will visit Sevenoaks Hospital to open the new Wound Centre.  But I will remember those wounds that are often just as serious: the ones we cannot see.

The Vital Work of Women’s Refuge

Michael has praised the ‘vital’ work of staff at a local Women’s Refuge.

The refuge, based at a secret location in West Kent, accommodates women and their children who have experienced domestic abuse.  For these families, the seven-room refuge is their only safe space.  Run by Look Ahead Care Support and Housing and managed by Yvette Hazeldon, the refuge provides families the time and security needed to reintegrate into society.

During his visit, Ms Hazeldon briefed Michael about the high demand for accommodation in the refuge, adding that the nature of the demand has changed because social media enables perpetrators to locate victims more easily.s Refuge 22 Sept 17

They reviewed the Government’s work to help victims of domestic abuse.  Despite record numbers of prosecutions and convictions since 2010, there are still two million victims of domestic abuse every year in England and Wales.

Michael told Ms Hazeldon that the Government will introduce a Draft Domestic Violence and Abuse Bill to bring to the justice system greater clarity about the impact of domestic abuse on families and encourage better response to the lifelong impact on children into adulthood.

He said: ‘My office regularly deals with cases involving domestic abuse.  This refuge provides a vital service in keeping families safe.  We will work together to ensure the Government are taking the right steps to support victims.’

Michael Hails ‘Outstanding’ Local Police

Michael has hailed the ‘outstanding’ work of the local police force following a recent meeting with the new district commander for Sevenoaks, Chief Inspector Tony Dyer.

Kent Police have previously been awarded ‘Good’ in Effectiveness and Efficiency and ‘Outstanding’ in Legitimacy by HMIC inspectors.

In the wide-ranging meeting, CI Dyer reported on general crime trends, mental healthcare, speeding and specific operations relating to Michael’s casework.  Michael was pleased to learn that the force will introduce new innovative measures for tackling speeding in the future.

MF and CI Tony Dyer outside Swanley Police Station 1 22 Sept 17

Michael was also keen to learn more about recruitment following reports that the number of officers and PCSOs in Kent Police has risen earlier in the year.  CI Dyer reassured him that recruitment targets will be met.

Michael said: ‘Following a comprehensive meeting with CI Dyer, I am positive about the direction of the force, which has been recognised for its outstanding work, and its ability to maintain law and order in the constituency.’

Defend Yourself Online

Michael has warned consumers to defend themselves online at an information session on safe and secure banking in Swanley on Saturday.

The session was hosted by Barclays and was organised by Michael following the announced closure of the Farningham branch.  Designed to help customers to explore the alternatives to branch banking, experts were on-hand at the event to explain what services are available through the Post office and through online, mobile and telephone banking.

It was a good opportunity for the local MP to discuss the work that Barclays has done to support Farningham customers with Will Dixon, the Community Banking Director for Barclays in Kent, and Judith Gafatchi, the Swanley branch manager.

Crucially, the event also covered digital safety where local residents learned to protect themselves from financial fraud and scams.

Michael said: ‘Banks have a duty to ensure all residents affected by sudden branch closures are still able to access banking simply, safely and securely.  Learning to defend yourself online is vital in this digital age.  I will continue to work with banks to ensure everyone can access the services they need.’

Good News – Longer Trains

Michael has welcomed the Transport Secretary’s announcement today that longer trains will now call at local stations on services to London.

A third of peak-time services will be lengthened, offering Southeastern customers more than 5,000 additional seats starting today.

In his announcement, the Transport Secretary said he is ‘confident passengers will notice the benefits of these longer trains immediately’, adding, ‘I am committed to getting passengers more comfortable, reliable and efficient journeys.’

The changes will affect stations across the constituency, including Dunton Green, Kemsing, Otford, Sevenoaks and Swanley. Maidstone East line trains will have more air-conditioned modern carriages with some peak-time trains doubling in length. On the Hayes, Baxleyheath, Woolwich, Sidcup, Bromley South and Grove Park lines, passengers will see a number of peak-time trains lengthened from eight to ten carriages while some six-car trains will lengthen to eight.se-68-extra-carriages-map-2017

Michael said: ‘Southeastern are finally reacting to capacity problems I’ve highlighted for years. But these improvements could go further. That’s why I plan to meet Southeastern and Network Rail in the coming months to ensure passengers get a better deal now rather than later.’

Sevenoaks Business Show Awards 2017

Michael said wider society could learn from the values of small businesses in his address at the annual Sevenoaks Business Show Awards on Friday.

‘I support small businesses because they embody freedom and independence, individual responsibility and the principles of Meritocracy’, Michael said to an audience of local businesses.

‘In small businesses, you have a real stake in its success and the rewards gained are directly related to the effort that is invested.

Wider society has a lot to learn from small businesses.’

As Patron of the Sevenoaks Town Partnership, which organised the event, Michael spoke about the local economy, the achievements of local businesses and the support provided to small businesses by the Government.

He also highlighted the historic low unemployment levels and increasing number of enterprise startups in the constituency.

The full transcript of Michael’s speech can be found below.

 

 

Celebrating Local Enterprise                        15th September

[Introduction]

I am delighted to be here again at this great event as the Patron of Sevenoaks Town Partnership and to see so many businesses up for awards.

 

[Local successes]

Business is thriving in Sevenoaks in spite of the challenges we face.

Once again, I am delighted as your Member of Parliament to look back on a strong year for the town.

I want to take this opportunity to pay tribute to the Sevenoaks Town Partnership,

Which is comprised of businesses and retailers,

Chamber of Commerce, Sevenoaks Town Council,

And the Sevenoaks Chronicle.

They play a crucial role in supporting local enterprise,

And we have seen the fruits of their hard work ripen.

Local businesses are continuing to grow,

Punching above their weight not only here in the UK…

But also selling across the world.

Were you aware, for example, of a business that develops off-grid renewable energy in rural Africa,

Based here in Sevenoaks?

Or of a business that stocks the House of Commons with its famous single-malt Scotch,

Whilst exporting vodka to Poland, gin to Europe, and Kosher whisky Israel,

Based here in Sevenoaks?

Children in Africa, who may know nothing about our country, nor understand our language, will know of Sevenoaks.

Many of the world’s leading figures, who purchase Parliament’s whisky as a souvenir for their friends and family back home, will know of Sevenoaks.

Our town continues to be the home of some of the most innovative and unique businesses in the country,

Most of them working out of small cabinets on our buzzing business parks.

Indeed, over 700 new enterprises have set their sights on success in Sevenoaks since 2010…

100 in the last two years…

That’s more than one business startup every week.

As more businesses begin and more enterprises expand,

There are more and more jobs to fill.

Local unemployment remains at a record low.

This puts the constituency in the top 50 out of 650 in the country.

That is something to be hugely proud of.

But it’s also something we can still work hard to improve.

Young people here now have a real choice when they finish their education.

With local business thriving, they can choose to work here,

Or, with connections to London improving, they can choose to work elsewhere.

Because Sevenoaks is not just a commuter town.

It is the birthplace of innovative businesses providing local employment, like yours.

 

[Government support]

Our successes locally can be attributed to the hard work and talent of local businesses and partnerships.

But our successes locally are not surprising when one considers the following:

The UK is already the fifth largest economy in the world, the biggest recipient of foreign investment in Europe, and the fastest growing economy in the G7.

I recognise that it is because of this success,

Both locally and nationally,

That many of you may be concerned about leaving the European Union.

As a businessman myself, I understand the pressures we face from uncertainty.

Rest assured, the Government’s top priority is securing the future of our businesses;

Especially the small and medium-sized businesses, like yours, that constitute 99 per cent of businesses in the UK.

Because this Government believes in small business.

With firms comprised of fewer than 200 employees responsible for around two fifths of our national income;

Employing 80 per cent of the total workforce;

And creating nearly half of all private sector turnover in the UK,

You are indispensable to the creation of jobs and of wealth.

I will do my part to champion businesses in Parliament,

Supporting the Government’s cut to business rates and corporation tax,

And our determination to regulate more efficiently.

But more needs to be done to cut red tape and ensure small businesses can export more easily.

I will also work to ensure that local enterprises have access to the funding and resources they need.

 

[Conclusion]

I support small businesses because they embody freedom and independence,

Individual responsibility;

And the principles of Meritocracy.

In small businesses, you have a real stake in its success,

And the rewards gained are directly related to the effort that is invested.

Wider society has a lot to learn from small businesses.

So I want to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to all of you,

As well as offer my congratulations to those nominated:

For supporting our robust local economy,

For providing jobs for the next generation,

And for making Sevenoaks the best place for families anywhere in the country.

Thank you.

Michael Time Travels for 100th Anniversary

Michael visited the Leonard Cheshire Disability care home in Chipstead last week to celebrate the 100-year anniversary of its founder’s birth.

Leonard Cheshire Disability is a major health and welfare charity working in the UK and around the world. It was founded in 1948 by RAF pilot Leonard Cheshire and works to move disabled individuals toward independent living.

Michael met Kevin Parkes, Service Manager, and Deputy Managers, Anne-Marie Pert and Shelley Conneely, who introduced him to the care home’s oldest resident. Staff were dressed in early 20th century attire in honour of the centenary and there were tea-dancers performing to live music.

‘This is a great example of what can be achieved through community effort’, Michael said. ‘The charity’s projects support the Government’s wider efforts to get more disabled people into employment. Together we will work to finally close the disability gap.’

Fallon Fielded for 3G Pitch Opening

On Saturday, Michael officially opened the new 3G Football Pitch for Sevenoaks Town Football Club at Greatness Recreation Ground.

At the well-attended event, Michael congratulated the club Chairman, Paul Lansdale, the staff and players, the Council and the sponsors. He then helped cut the ribbon with the Mayor and some of the players.

The innovative new pitch was recommended by Sevenoaks Town Council as part of their Sevenoaks Sports Strategy and costs £400,000. The funding was achieved through a £70,000 grant from Cory Environmental Trust Britain, a £130,000 donation from The Sevenoaks Fund and a £200,000 donation from the Town Council. The new floodlit pitch will be used by Sevenoaks Town FC’s 60 teams and local primary schools free of charge.

Image 7

Michael said: ‘This is the result of a real community effort and will be used by local schools as well as Sevenoaks Town FC. A symbol of diversity, opportunity and the strong community spirit here in Sevenoaks, this pitch is an important addition to our area and helps put our teams onto the front foot.’