Michael Opens Disability Friendly Swing in Swanley Park

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Mcihael with the Mayor of Swanley, Cllr Shanker Gaire, Kerry Rogers and her family.

On Saturday, Michael cut the ribbon on the first piece of disabled friendly equipment to be installed in Swanley Park.  He was joined by local councillors, the Mayor of Swanley, Cllr Shanker Gaire, and local resident Kerry Rogers and her family.

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Michael with Kerry Rogers and her daughter Maddison.

Michael said: “I was delighted to open the new piece of disabled friendly equipment at Swanley Park.  I am particularly pleased that even more children will now be able to make the most of what the park has to offer.  With the impressive fundraising efforts of the Mayor of Swanley, Shanker Gaire, and the hard work of local councillors, I am sure this will be only the first of many improvements.”

Swanley Town Council has committed to building an extension to the existing playground in Swanley Park which will provide disability friendly and sensory playground equipment.  Cllr Gaire’s fundraising efforts are supporting this commitment and the council will shortly be inviting companies to submit bids and design ideas for the extension.

 

Michael Hails ‘Success Story’ of New Pre-School Site

Michael with Cllr Andrew Eyre, Mayor of Sevenoaks, at the opening.
Michael with Cllr Andrew Eyre, Mayor of Sevenoaks, at the opening.

Michael today hailed a local ‘success story’ as he joined local parents and children to open the Children’s Workshop’s new building in Sevenoaks.

The pre-school was formerly located at Sevenoaks Rugby Club but decided to move to new and improved premises last year.  Michael assisted the school as it sought to secure planning permission for its new timber-clad building on the edge of Lady Boswell’s School.  Permission was granted in October 2015 after special consideration was granted.

Michael spoke about the importance of pre-school education for working families in Sevenoaks before the building was formally opened by Mr Bloom from CBeebies with the firing of a confetti cannon.

Michael said: “I have been proud to support the Children’s Workshop’s move and I was delighted to attend today.  The new building is a success story, demonstrating what can be achieved when local communities come together.  It will provide a vital service that benefits both parents and children for many years to come.”

Michael Joins Protest Against Super Depot

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Michael standing with residents to protest against the application.

Michael joined residents in Westerham on Friday to protest against the application for the redevelopment of Moorhouse Tileworks.

Accompanied by local councillors, campaigners and Sam Gyimah, MP for East Surrey, Michael listened to concerns and reaffirmed his opposition to the application to build a major distribution depot on the site.

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Michael speaking to local residents at the protest.

Michael has already written to Tandridge District Council to oppose the plans, which would increase the number of vehicles, including vans and HGVs, and negatively affect air quality and pedestrian safety in the Westerham area.

Michael said: “Like the last application, this plan fails to address concerns about traffic and air quality.  It would have a significant impact on the lives of my constituents in Westerham and I was proud to join local residents to make our opposition clear.  I urge the council not to approve this development.”

Mr Fallon spent the remainder of his day in the constituency attending a fundraising event for West Kent Mind and meeting local councillors to discuss development plans and the latest progress on securing grammar school provision for boys in Sevenoaks.

Michael Welcomes Grammar School Plans

Michael has welcomed the Government’s plan to allow the opening of new grammar schools.

Michael said: “I warmly welcome these new proposals.  By making it easier to expand existing grammar schools and set up new ones, they will widen choice for parents and pupils in Sevenoaks.

We have already secured a girls’ grammar annexe.  A boys’ grammar is the next essential step, and these plans mean we can avoid the lengthy legal wrangling that held up the girls’ annexe.”

Michael Speaks at the Sevenoaks Business Awards

29007780324_23fb087b91_oOn Friday, Michael addressed the annual Sevenoaks Business Awards.  As Patron of the Sevenoaks Town Partnership, which organised the evening, Michael spoke about the achievements of local businesses and the support offered by the Government:

29523238152_1b02dca396_oThank you.

I was speaking in Paris earlier this week when, about halfway through, the lights went out.

I was assured that it was completely unintentional, but perhaps I was on thin ice after referring to our position on the Olympic medal table…

I certainly hope it won’t happen tonight.

It is an honour to be here once again as Patron of Sevenoaks Town Partnership.

I am delighted to see that there have been so many nominations for the awards this evening.

And I am proud to be able to support the Town Partnership.

Every year, its remarkable programme of events and support somehow expands.

From the Vintage Bus promoting tourism, to the monthly Farmers Market making the most of our local produce, the Partnership’s efforts have helped to make Sevenoaks more bustling and attractive than ever before.

But its excellent work builds on an already excellent foundation of local businesses.

In April, I had the pleasure of opening the fifth annual Business Show.

With over thirty businesses attending, it was a clear demonstration of the strength of our vibrant local economy.

I am very pleased to see that in evidence here again tonight.

And it’s vital – Sevenoaks is not only a commuter town.

It is full of thriving, innovative businesses providing local employment – like yours.

Many of you are part of the 99 percent of businesses in Britain that are small- or medium-sized.

But I also recently welcomed a much larger company, FM Conway, to our town.

They may be a very different business to many of yours, but their decision to relocate here shows how successful our local economy has become.

The number of people without a job here has fallen to its lowest ever recorded level.

And we now have the highest number of businesses on record, 600 more than there were six years ago.

That’s the equivalent of a new business being set up every three days.

As your MP I am proud to be supporting measures to maintain this impressive record.

From April, we are cutting business rates.

600,000 businesses occupying a third of all properties will pay no rates at all.

We want to see three million apprenticeships across the country by 2020.

So many local businesses are helping to create these vital opportunities and I am pleased to see that there is strong competition for the apprentice award tonight – clear evidence of the young talent that is coming through our local workforce.

Corporation tax will also continue to fall, giving you more money to invest in your businesses.

There are challenges ahead.

I know some of you may be concerned.

I won’t pretend that the next few years will be easy.

But Sevenoaks is well prepared.

And with new measures to support the economy, the ingenuity of our businesses, and the ceaseless support of the Town Partnership, I am sure our local economy will continue to thrive.

I would like to congratulate tonight’s nominees and winners on their much-deserved achievements and wish you all the very best of luck for the coming year.

Thank you.

Column: We Needs to Give Our Young People the Skills to Succeed

In his latest column for the Sevenoaks Chronicle, Michael has written about helping young people to develop skills:

Last month, unemployment in Sevenoaks fell to its lowest recorded level.  Even more encouragingly, the level of youth unemployment in my constituency is now just one percent, down by over three quarters since 2010.

I am always impressed by the students I meet when I visit schools in Sevenoaks.  But academic achievement is only part of the story.  To maintain this employment record, our young people need to be given the chance to develop the skills and experiences that it takes to succeed.

Opportunities like National Citizen Service (NCS) are the best way to do that.  NCS has already enabled more than 200,000 teenagers, like those I’ve met from Sevenoaks, to take part in adventure challenges, skills development and social action.

Research has shown that nine out of ten participants find their experience worthwhile.  But it doesn’t just benefit them.  Getting involved is proven to make young people more likely to volunteer, more likely to vote, and more likely to be involved in their community.

Even on a smaller scale, opportunities like this can be found everywhere.

In June I visited Supajam, an innovative project in Swanley which is successfully helping teenagers who have struggled in formal education to learn about the music industry and through it to learn basic lessons in numeracy and literacy.  Instead of an uncertain future, the vast majority move into further education, employment or training when they leave.

Earlier this month I joined Westerham Sea Cadets for one of their regular boating sessions on Chipstead Lake.  The Sea Cadets offer practical training in the water and the confidence-building and self-esteem that comes with it, as well as valuable courses and certificates.

These opportunities are creating a new generation of well-rounded individuals with the skills they require to succeed.  But they also have huge social benefits – strengthening our communities now and into the future.

Michael Opens New FM Conway Office

Michael with chief executive officer Michael Conway.
Michael with chief executive officer Michael Conway.

Michael recently opened the new head office of major construction firm FM Conway.

Michael delivering his speech.
Michael delivering his speech.

Conway, which was founded in 1961, has moved its operations and 250 staff to Sevenoaks from Dartford.  The company works across the South East, including Olympic and Diamond Jubilee Projects as well as the Barclays’ Cycle Superhighway in London.  The new office is the result of a complete refurbishment, with state-of-the-art office facilities and a fresh exterior.

In his speech, Michael welcomed the company and its staff to Sevenoaks.  He announced that unemployment in his constituency has fallen to its lowest ever recorded level and said that he was proud that jobs like those provided by Conway mean that Sevenoaks is a bustling and vibrant centre of employment.

Travellers on Brittains Lane Common

Michael has been in contact with Sevenoaks Town Council about the travellers who arrived at Brittains Lane Common earlier this week.

The Town Council are landowners of this registered common land and are therefore responsible for leading the proceedings for removal of trespassers.  The Council has commenced these legal proceedings today.

More information is available here.  If you have any further concerns, please email the council.

Unemployment in Sevenoaks Falls to Lowest Ever Level

unemployment jul 16Michael has welcomed new figures showing unemployment in Sevenoaks has fallen to its lowest recorded level.

Figures released today show that the total number of claimants in June was just 404, equivalent to 0.9 percent of the population.

Unemployment in Sevenoaks is now 10 percent lower than at the general election last year and over 60 percent lower than in May 2010.

Youth unemployment also fell to 65, almost 20 percent down on May last year and over 75 percent lower than it was in 2010.

Michael said: “This is great news.  More people in Sevenoaks than ever before now have the security of a pay packet and the ability to provide for their families.  There is always more to do but this news shows Sevenoaks is prepared for the economic challenges ahead.”

Michael Speaks at the Chamber of Commerce Summer Reception

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Credit: Russell Harper

On Thursday, Michael addressed the annual Sevenoaks Chamber of Commerce summer reception.  As Patron of the Chamber, Michael spoke about the impact of the EU referendum result for small businesses and the important role of the Chamber in the local economy:

Thank you Colonel.

It’s a pleasure to join you all tonight in this, the busiest week in politics since last week.

Every MP will tell you that they represent the best constituency in the country.

But clearly they’ve never been to Sevenoaks.

All of you here tonight, coupled with these beautiful surroundings, make that clearer than ever.

I always like to remind people that it is small and medium-sized businesses like some of those represented here tonight which make up 99 percent of the total in Britain.

In Sevenoaks, there are now 600 more businesses than there were six years ago.

Employing more people, producing more goods, selling more services.

That’s the equivalent of a new business being set up every three days.

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Credit: Russell Harper

So despite that success, or perhaps because of it, I know some of you are concerned about the result of the referendum on our EU membership and our current economic instability.

I would like to reassure you that our new Government, led by a new Prime Minister, is already working hard to restore the confidence and certainty that we need.

We are well prepared for the period of adjustment that lies ahead.

We will do whatever it takes to protect our economy.speech

We will forge new arrangements and trade deals.

We will make it work.

As we leave the EU, there will be lots of changes.

It will not be easy to negotiate a deal with the EU that controls immigration and recovers sovereignty while protecting our hard won economic growth.

But what will not change is the ingenuity, commitment and hard work of businesses like yours all around the country, but most of all here in Sevenoaks.

That’s always been valuable and I think its value will become even clearer in the coming years.

But the importance of your contribution demonstrates why the work of our Chamber of Commerce is so important.

I am always impressed by the range of the services and events that are on offer.

I am reliably informed that the new networking meetings are proving to be successful, as well as your recent charity golf day, your newsletter and the Curry Club.

It is with opportunities like these that our local economy can go from strength to strength.  I encourage you all to make full use of them.

Finally, I would like congratulate the Chamber of Commerce on its achievements over the past year, and wish you all the very best of luck.

It’s now a pleasure to introduce Marc Vernet, headline sponsor of tonight’s event and owner of that stalwart of Sevenoaks for the past 25 years, Amherst Accountancy.

Thank you.