Michael has personally handed his recommendations for the new South Eastern rail franchise to the Transport Secretary Chris Grayling MP.
His letter, which was written in conjunction with his official response to the public consultation and can be accessed here, argues for a ‘railway system that works for everyone’.
In the nine-page letter, Michael argues: ‘For too long, services on the South Eastern rail network have been unacceptably poor […] Improved capacity, customer service, and payment systems are all welcome steps, but I believe the new arrangements need to go further. Our railways need to start putting passengers first’.
Michael calls for improved capacity, improved compensation arrangements, and improved connectivity on South Eastern trains, and outlines numerous arguments for the extension of the Oyster network to Sevenoaks.
Michael said: ‘I have responded to the public consultation to make the case for passengers in Sevenoaks and Swanley. Discussions on the new rail franchise provide a great opportunity to push for better services on our railways and a better deal for passengers: more space, improved compensation arrangements, and the extension of the Oyster network. I encourage constituents to visit the public consultation site and make sure their views are heard before the consultation closes on 23 May’.
Michael recently visited Old St Andrews, a small firm that packages Scotch Whiskies, gins, and vodka.
He was met by the Managing Director, Bob Gorton, and other members of the office and warehouse team. He was given a private tour and learnt more about the business.
Old St Andrews is a small company located in Kemsing but it has clients all over the world, which Bob marks with little red dots on a world map in his office. It exports vodka to Poland, gin to Europe, Scotch Whisky to Turkey, and Kosher whisky to Israel. Around 80 per cent of its business is in exports, and it is ranked as one of the best businesses on Amazon.
Michael said: ‘I was surprised at how varied the firm’s product range is. There is a real story here. This small business works from tiny premises in a local business Park, but it is an impressive globally-recognised brand. I spoke with Bob about the firm’s future in uncertain times and how he will still be able to employ the overseas skills he needs. I am committed to ensuring that businesses like Old St Andrews are able to flourish, trading inside and outside the European Union.’
Michael has today praised local businesses ahead of the sixth annual Sevenoaks Business Show.
The local MP, who is also Patron of Sevenoaks Town Partnership, opened the fifth annual Sevenoaks Business Show last year, and will be meeting with a number of local businesses on his constituency visit this Friday.
Michael’s visit comes one week after new unemployment figures showed that Sevenoaks is among the constituencies with the lowest unemployment rate in the country. The total number of unemployed claimants in Sevenoaks in March 2017 was 395, representing a decrease of 19 per cent since 2015 and of 67 per cent since 2010.
Michael said: ‘It’s a great time to be in business in Sevenoaks. Unemployment remains at an historic low, more people are finding full time jobs, wages have grown yet again, and there are over 700 more businesses in Sevenoaks than there were in 2010.’
A public consultation is currently underway on the future of the South Eastern network. Michael will be submitting his response to the consultation, and is encouraging his constituents to ‘have their say’.
Michael said: ‘The public consultation over the new franchise is a great opportunity to lobby for the improvements our rail services need. I am currently drafting my submission to lobby for the extension of the Oyster network, for improved customer services, and for more space for passengers. This is a chance for constituents to have their say over the future of the South Eastern network and let the Government know what improvements they most want to see’.
Michael has welcomed the Department of Transport’s recent announcement regarding the new Lower Thames Crossing.
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling announced that the Government’s preferred route for a new Lower Thames Crossing is east of Gravesend and Tilbury. The development could create more than 6,000 jobs and boost the economy by over £8 billion.
The Transport Secretary also committed to investing £10 million to improve traffic flow at the existing Dartford crossing. Highways England estimates that the Lower Thames Crossing will cost up to £6.2 billion to develop.
Michael said: ‘Increasing capacity across the Thames will unlock huge economic potential. The proposals strike a balance between minimising the impacts on local communities and ensuring value for taxpayers’ money. There is now greater potential for investment opportunities, for new housing, and for businesses to grow, which will create even more employment opportunities in the region. This is a stamp of confidence for Kent, but I will continue to make representations on behalf of my constituents as the development progresses.’
Sir Michael Fallon MP has welcomed new figures showing that unemployment in Sevenoaks remains at an historic low.
The figures, released by the Office National Statistics and Nomis database, show that unemployment in Sevenoaks has decreased by 63 per cent since 2010 and 11 per cent since May 2015. Sevenoaks has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country.
Michael said: ‘These figures reflect a very robust local economy as we enter the Brexit negotiations. A country that works for everyone enables people the security of employment and the ability to provide for their family. I will continue to keep a close eye on our unemployment rates.’
Sir Michael Fallon MP has cautiously welcomed Government proposals on night flight restrictions for Gatwick airport.
His comments anticipate the release of the Department of Transport’s Airspace Modernisation consultation document later this month.
The proposals on the Government’s role in setting noise controls at Gatwick airport from October 2017 to 2022 have been outlined in a consultation document called Night Flight Restrictions at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted, published earlier this year.
Michael said: ‘This report contains several proposals that I hope will be introduced as soon as possible. Measures such as noise quotas could lead to improvement for everyone. But I remain concerned about any changes that would lead to more of my constituents being affected by noise. I will continue to make representations in any future consultation.’
Michael joined school governors, local supporters and representatives from churches across Sevenoaks as he helped to open Trinity School’s new building last Friday.
After giving a reading in a service led by the Bishop of Rochester, he participated in a balloon release and helped to plant an olive tree in the school’s grounds.
Michael said: “I was very pleased to help to open Trinity School’s new building. This event was the culmination of many years of effort from local parents and volunteers and this excellent new building is the result of their work. School choice is expanding in Sevenoaks and I look forward to seeing Trinity going from strength to strength in the years to come.”
Michael helped to launch Swanley in Bloom on Saturday on a visit to the town centre.
He was accompanied by Cllr Victor Southern as he met local representatives and the team from Coolings Garden Centre, which sponsors the event.
Michael said: “I was delighted to help to launch Swanley in Bloom. This event has a very important role to play in making local people proud of their community and getting people interested in gardening. I look forward to hearing more about its progress in the coming months.”
Michael visited Chevening Financial in Sundridge on Friday to congratulate them on becoming the first ever recipient of the Small Business Big Heart Award.
He was met by representatives including David Hawes-Gatt, Managing Director of Chevening Financial, and heard about the business’ work and contribution to the community.
Chevening Financial secured the title after stiff competition from small businesses across the UK. It was selected as the winner in recognition of its eight-year long programme of community support. This includes taking housebound pensioners out for shopping and socialising, with Mr Hawes-Gatt clocking up 4,000 miles in total to date. The company is donating its £1,000 prize money to DEBRA, a charity it supports which helps people with the genetic skin condition Epidermolysis Bullosa (EB).
Michael said: “I was delighted to be able to congratulate David and his team at Chevening Financial in person for receiving this award. Becoming a regional finalist was impressive; winning the national competition is a quite remarkable achievement. I am proud that a business in my constituency is playing such an active role in the community and I look forward to hearing more about its work in the future.”
On his latest day in his constituency, Michael also discussed healthcare with local commissioners, visited the Parents’ Consortium in Hextable and met representatives from Swanley Town Council.