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Electrical Contractors’ Association

Darren Wetherill, Regional Chairman ECA South East Region and Managing Director of DW Electrical Limited Philip Hamblett, ECA Eastbourne Branch Chairman and Contracts Manager of N. Smith Electrical Limited Carolyn Mason, ECA Head of Education & Training, and Kevin Bush, ECA Regional Manager, South East region
L to R:   Darren Wetherill, Regional Chairman ECA South East Region and Managing Director of DW Electrical Limited, Michael Fallon MP, Kevin Bush, ECA Regional Manager, South East region, Carolyn Mason, ECA Head of Education & Training and Philip Hamblett, ECA Eastbourne Branch Chairman and Contracts Manager of N. Smith Electrical Limited

The ECA’s south-east regional office is based in Sevenoaks and Michael met ECA staff and representatives from member companies today to discuss their concerns over proposed changes to apprenticeship funding.

The ECA has some 2,800 members ranging from local electricians to national companies with several branches employing thousands of contractors.  Around 80% of the membership is made up of SMEs.

Potential solutions to help small businesses to continue to employ and train apprentices by reducing extra bureaucracy and red tape were covered.  Michael agreed to report back to Nick Boles MP, the Government’s Skills Minister with the very useful points that were raised at the meeting.

New Grammar School Provision for Sevenoaks

Press release from Kent County Council:

Work is ready to start in the next few months in Sevenoaks to build a new grammar school annexe, the first for 20 years.

weald of kentThe Weald of Kent Grammar School Academy Trust has now submitted its proposal, in line with the requirement identified by Kent County Council to develop the new annexe to the Secretary of State for Education, Nicky Morgan.

Planning consent has already been obtained to build the school on the old Wildernesse School site in Seal Hollow Road and contractors are ready to start work, subject to the Secretary of State’s sign-off.

Kent County Council understands that the submission by the all-girls Weald of Kent is compliant with the regulations set up by the coalition government to establish a new grammar school annexe for girls.

Leader of Kent County Council Paul Carter said: “I am delighted that we now have a robust proposal to put to the Secretary of State for her sign-off.  School rolls are rising dramatically and we must be allowed to expand grammar schools in line with all other categories and types of school.  This is good news for parents with daughters and we will continue to work in earnest to find a solution for their sons.

“I am also delighted by the support from Theresa May and Michael Fallon for the establishment of further grammar school provision in their constituencies.”

Mr Fallon said: “I am delighted to support this proposal from the Weald of Kent Grammar School for a satellite annexe in Sevenoaks.

“It remains deeply unfair to parents in my constituency that we are the only area in Kent not to have a grammar school. This proposal will not only go some way to eliminating this injustice, but also produce the additional places we need in west Kent.

“I hope the Secretary of State makes a speedy decision.”

David Bower, Chair of Governors at Weald of Kent Grammar School said:  “As the existing provider of education to 500 pupils from Sevenoaks we believe Weald of Kent is ideally placed to establish an annexe, offering an additional 90 places per year group.

news-secondary-admissions-2015“Recognised by Ofsted as ‘Outstanding’ we are confident in our ability to deliver the highest quality of education possible for the children in Sevenoaks and that we can extend our unique ethos to embrace students and staff across a split site operation to feel part of a single community.”

New Apprenticeships – more young people in Sevenoaks getting skills for the future

Visit to Network Power Training Centre, Sundridge
Visit to Network Power Training Centre, Sundridge

Michael has welcomed new figures showing 490 new apprenticeships were started by people in Sevenoaks last year. In total 1,910 new apprenticeships have been started in the Sevenoaks constituency since 2010.

Across England more than 1.9 million apprenticeships have been started since 2010 – with the number of apprenticeships having more than doubled in this parliament.

As the Prime Minister announced on Monday a future Conservative government would go even further: making a £1 billion commitment to deliver 3 million apprenticeships by 2020 and end youth unemployment.

Michael said:  “These figures are great news. 1,910 new apprenticeships since 2010 means more young people in Sevenoaks getting the skills for they’ll need for the future.”

“By making sure, as part of our long-term economic plan, we deliver the best schools and skills for young people the Conservatives are ensuring the next generation have the skills and opportunities they’ll need to get a good job – so they can have a brighter, more secure future ahead of them.”

Supporting Cancer Research

Behind the counter at Cancer Research UK, Sevenoaks
Behind the counter at Cancer Research UK, Sevenoaks

Michael is backing an appeal from Cancer Research UK to help bring forward the day when all cancers are cured.  He got stuck into work as a volunteer at the charity’s shop on the High Street in Sevenoaks recently to play his part and show how local people can get involved.

Every year, around 43,100 people are diagnosed with cancer in the South East and predictions show that the number of people with cancer in the UK is set to rise steeply by 2030.  Michael has joined forces with Cancer Research UK to help accelerate the progress the charity is making and highlight the power of research in beating the disease.

He said:  “I’m delighted to support my local Cancer Research UK shops and find out more about the hard work that goes on behind the scenes.   Research is cancer’s number one enemy and it is people like the dedicated volunteers I met in Sevenoaks, who are enabling the charity’s doctors and scientists to keep making huge advances in the battle against the disease.”

“While more of us will be diagnosed with cancer in the future, there is good news. Thanks to the generosity of its supporters, Cancer Research UK’s work is helping to ensure more men, women and children survive the disease.”

Volunteers and staff at Cancer Research UK, Sevenoaks
Volunteers and staff at Cancer Research UK, Sevenoaks

“So I’m calling on the local community to help Cancer Research UK to beat cancer sooner.  I want to encourage people to show their support in any way they can, whether it’s donating or buying from the charity’s shops, volunteering for a few hours a week, or signing up for a sporting challenge like Race for Life.

Cancer Research UK’s Area Manager, Elaine Hutchins said: “Every step we make towards beating cancer relies on every pound, every hour and every person, so we hope people in Sevenoaks will really get behind us.”

Employment in Swanley

Record levels of employment in Swanley were welcomed by Michael as he hosted his second Jobs Fair in the area.

Unemployment has fallen by 50% since the last General Election; 413 people were unemployed in Swanley at that time. Today that figure is 203.

Michael said:
“It is very encouraging news that more people in Swanley now have the security of a regular wage packet.  But there is more to do and 203 people still unemployed is still too high and that is why I was delighted to be able to host another Jobs Fair in Swanley this year.

“Thanks go to all the companies and organisations that provided sponsorship, support and participation.  I am also grateful to Swanley Town Council for its generous support.”

 

Voting for a EU Referendum

Michael has, today, voted for an EU Referendum. The bill passed its Second Reading in the House of Commons with 283 votes in favour to 0.

On supporting a referendum, Michael Fallon said:  “People in Sevenoaks feel the EU is heading in a direction we never signed up to – that it’s costing British taxpayers too much and we have lost control of our own affairs.

Today’s lack of participation by Labour and the Liberal Democrats shows that they will not deliver a referendum and UKIP simply cannot. Only a strong, stable Conservative majority government can deliver this chance for the British people to have their say and I will continue to push for the people of Sevenoaks to have their voice heard.”

Badgers Mount Parish Council

Sevenoaks District Councillor John Grint chaired a public meeting in Badgers Mount on 10th October to mark the creation of the new Badgers Mount Parish Council in April 2015.  Previously Badgers Mount has been part of the Parish of Shoreham.  Kent County Councillor Roger Gough and Cllr Philip McGarvey (Vice-Chairman of SDC) were also on the panel of speakers.

Mr Grint said:  “Approval in principle for this new move was given in November 2012 and finalised in July 2014.  The first election of 5 Parish Councillors will take place in May 2015 and the first local precept is being kept at the same level as it was previously.”

“This is a new era for Badgers Mount.  A small working group has been dealing with the formalities but has also recognised the vital importance of engagement with local residents and this is the second public meeting to be arranged with the aim of informing, debating and hopefully encouraging some to stand for election.”

Tribute was paid to Shoreham Parish Council for the care they have lavished on Badgers Mount over many years and for their help, generosity and co-operation to help with this new venture.

Michael spoke about Localism covering central government’s policy, the importance of local democracy and the vital work carried out by parish councils and their councillors at this lowest tier of local government.

 

 

Business is Great Britain

business is great britainSpeaking in support of local businesses at the setting for the final of the British Touring Car Championships held at Brands Hatch from 10-13th October  Michael said:  “The Business is Great Britain campaign, which launched last year, now provides a comprehensive website that makes it easier for small businesses to access the support that will help them grow through exporting, hiring and business planning.  They will also be able to see how services such as those offered through UK Trade & Investment, Growth Accelerator and the National Apprenticeship Service can help their business to grow.”

“Alongside this campaign the Government has unveiled a range of new support this year for small businesses.  It has:

  • Introduced a new Employment Allowance which will put up to £2,000 back into your business:  450,000 small businesses will pay no national insurance at all;
  • boosted the number of apprenticeships to 1.8m since 2010 and driven up the quality of training every apprentice receives.  Grants are now offered of up to £1,500 to support firms that hire an apprentice;
  • Developed Growth Vouchers to help business owners to find and pay for strategic advice to grow their businesses;
  • Introduced a new range of measures to make it easier for people to run a business from home, from updated planning guidance to clearer business rates;
  • Made it easier to access finance.  New Start-up loans have been offered to over 20,-000 businesses and £100m has been drawn down;
  • Helped thousands of businesses to break into new markets, with local support from UKTI’s international trade advisors.”

“This already builds on the significant progress which has been made int he last four years.  This includes:

  • Targeting 3,000 rules to be scrapped or amended – this is the first Government in modern history to reduce the overall amount of regulation, saving businesses over £1.2 billion;
  • Extending small business rate relief until 2015.  This is saving £ millions for small businesses;
  • Introducing the Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme, R&D tax credits and Annual Investment Allowance;
  • Establishing the British Business Bank – through their finance programmes £782m of additional lending and investment is available to smaller businesses
  • Cutting corporation tax to 20 per cent, making the UK tax system one of the most competitive int he world, the joint lowest in the G20.”

He also welcomed Bill Fox, MD for Kent Business Academy which offers help to businesses looking to improve and grow, Darryl Eales, Advisory Chairman for Lloyds Development Company, Guy Townley from the Intellectual Property Office, Alan Gow, Series Director for BTCC and Nick Kelly, MD of AFIA Ltd who has secured £125,000 from the Escalate fund to help it grow his mobility equipment business.

Brands Hatch – supporting the ‘Business is Great’ campaign


Brands HatchMichael visited the 2014 British Touring Car Championship final road show at Brands Hatch on 10th October to highlight the work of the Business is Great initiative.

The Business is GREAT campaign has been working in partnership with the British Touring Car Championship team Quantel Bifold Racing to support British businesses and raise public awareness of the campaign.

The Business is GREAT Britain campaign features strongly as a team partner. The aim of this campaign is to build confidence amongst small businesses by showcasing inspirational examples of similar sized businesses and Quantel and Bifold are two good examples.

British design and engineering and job creation features prominently in the UK automotive industry.  In 2013 this exceeded £60 billion, an all-time record, and was up 9% on 2012.  The sector expects to take on more than 7,600 apprentices and 1,700 graduates in the next five years.

Apprenticeships: The MG6 touring car has been adapted for the competition by Triple Eight Racing Engineering Limited, a company with a long history of designing, building and racing cars in the BTCC.  The company has grown and supported an apprenticeship programme for a number of years and the current intake worked on the car during the construction stages and will continue to support through servicing and maintenance.

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Rotary Club of Darent Valley

rotary clubMichael met Rotarians and their guests at their new regular lunch venue held at White Oak Indoor Bowls Club, Swanley on 3rd October.  Members had requested a talk based around Michael’s new role as Defence Secretary.

As all knew, it had been an extremely busy summer, with Syria, Iraq, Ukraine and the Ebola outbreak in West Africa dominating the agenda, as well at the NATO summit and the draw down of troops and equipment from Afghanistan.  We now face a direct threat from Islamic extremism.  The government is working closely with our allies to drive back, dismantle and ultimately destroy ISIL and what it stands for.

Michael has already had two trips to visit servicemen and women in Afghanistan; met the RAF crews in Cyprus – whose tireless efforts saved lives by delivering aid in Iraq and visited several defence allies in the middle-east and Europe.  Last month he hosted the defence delegations from 28 NATO countries and their partners at the NATO summit in Newport, Wales; arguably the most significant summit since the end of Cold War.

He wanted to reassure everyone that his current role does not affect his constituency work, which he very much values.  In addition to his regular advice surgeries he had also had meetings with Swanley Town Council, Healthwatch Kent, and Lloyds Bank Sevenoaks in the last few weeks.  He recently opened the new branch of Handelsbanken in Sevenoaks, launched a new current account at Sevenoaks Crown Post Office, and presented Swanley Station staff with a Secure Station Award.

Earlier that day he had spoken at the West Kent Partnership Business Engagement Event in Brands Hatch,  Plans for the following week would include a visit to West Kingsdown Primary School, attending the British Tour Car Championship Final Roadshow event at Brands Hatch and a parish meeting at Badgers Mount.  A business advice surgery will be held shortly and Swanley Jobs Fair is being organised for mid-October.