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.

Demand for Public Broadband Information

Michael has demanded full, public information about the planned rollout of superfast broadband in Sevenoaks.

His call is the latest step in his campaign to secure better broadband for his constituents.

In recent meetings with BT and Kent County Council, which manages the Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) public subsidy contract, Michael has set out the importance of giving people the ability to see when the rollout is expected to reach their area.

Michael said: “Better information is the first step to securing better broadband.  Too often there is uncertainty and confusion about when people can access superfast speeds.  With full public information, BT can be held to account for what they promise.”

Work Is Still Needed On Oyster

southeasternMichael has warned commuters that more work is needed to secure the extension of the Oyster network to Sevenoaks.

At a recent meeting with the Rail Minister, Claire Perry MP, Department for Transport officials warned that the extension of the network, which had been due to take place in 2018, was not guaranteed.

Following recent reports about uncertainty over the future of the South East Flexible Ticketing (SEFT) scheme), Michael secured assurances that SEFT will be rolled out to Sevenoaks by the end of the year.  SEFT will benefit season ticket holders, providing them with a single plastic card that will also work on TfL services.

Michael also received a guarantee that future decisions about bringing improvements like Oyster to Sevenoaks would not be affected by the installation of SEFT.

Michael said: “SEFT will be rightly welcomed by season ticket holders but it is no replacement for Oyster.  Despite fresh uncertainty over a 2018 introduction date, this is not the end of the line.  I promised to bring Oyster to Sevenoaks and that’s what I will do.”

EU Referendum Result

Following the result of the EU referendum, Michael has released the following statement:

“The British people, including a majority in Sevenoaks, have given a clear instruction to the Government.

First, we must respect that decision and ensure it is implemented.  Second, we must safeguard our trade with Europe and ensure that jobs and businesses involved in the EU market are protected.  Third, whichever way we voted, we must all now work to bring the country together.”

SupaJam Welcomes Michael

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Michael with co-founders David Court and Nick Stillwell (Credit: Jake Tanner).

Michael was welcomed to SupaJam in Swanley on Friday.

Founded by David Court and Nick Stillwell, SupaJam supports young people aged 16-19 from across the district of Sevenoaks who have fallen out of formal education.  Currently supporting over 40 young people, the scheme will expand to support 90 in September.

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Michael meeting students at SupaJam (Credit: Jake Tanner).

Students work towards the accredited Music Business Diploma, supported by education in life skills and formal English and Maths qualifications.  Seven out of every 10 young people who attend SupaJam move into further education, employment or training when they leave.

Michael spoke to students and tutors and observed lessons and activities.  He was also given the opportunity to try his hand at the music technology used by the students.

Michael said: “SupaJam is doing great things in Swanley.  Its remarkable record is turning lives around and helping young people to meet their potential.  I look forward to working with David and Nick as they expand their ambition even further.”

On this day in his constituency, Michael also met representatives from the Electrical Contractors’ Association and local councillors.

EU Referendum Events

In advance of the referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union on 23rd June, Michael will be discussing his views at two local events:

  1. On Thursday 9th June, Michael will attend an event hosted by Euclid Law at Donnington Manor Hotel in Sevenoaks.  The event will begin at 7.30pm and tickets must be reserved in advance by emailing volunteer.sevenoaks@strongerin.co.uk.
  2. On Thursday 16th June, Michael will participate in a debate chaired by Adam Boulton at Sevenoaks School beginning at 7.30pm.  More information is available here.

Michael Welcomes Queen’s Speech Broadband Commitment

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Michael with representatives from Sevenoaks Chamber of Commerce at the recent Sevenoaks Business Show.

Michael has welcomed the announcement that the Government will introduce a new legal right to a fast broadband connection.

In the Queen’s Speech, Her Majesty stated: ‘Measures will be brought forward to create the right for every household to access high speed broadband.’

The news is a boost to Michael’s ongoing campaign to secure improvements to broadband for homes and businesses throughout his constituency. Michael has already met representatives from BT and is continuing to press for assurances about the progress of the superfast rollout programme.

Michael said: “I am delighted by this new commitment.  Sevenoaks needs better broadband, now and for years to come.  This new universal obligation will mean that no home or business is left behind.  I will continue to fight for my constituents to ensure it is implemented as soon as possible.”

Michael Hails ‘Right Decision’ on Grammar School Admissions

weald of kentMichael has welcomed the decision by Weald of Kent Grammar School not to exclude parts of his constituency from its 2017 admissions policy.

The announcement made last night means that areas such as Westerham, Crockham Hill and Brasted will all now be included in ‘Category A’ of the Oversubscription Criteria.  The proposed changes, which were due to come into force in time for the opening of the new grammar school annexe in Sevenoaks, would have led to pupils from these areas having a lower chance of admission to the school.  The school will next consult for the 2018 Admission Policy.

Michael raised his concerns with the school as part of the recent consultation process.  He said: “This is the right decision by Weald of Kent.  It is vital that the places at our new annexe go to local pupils.  My constituents across Sevenoaks will now have access to a grammar school education for their children, regardless of where they live.”