Michael has warned commuters in the Sevenoaks constituency to be prepared for significant rail disruption over the Christmas period.
In addition to the regular reduced service level between Christmas and New Year, no trains will be stopping at Charing Cross, Waterloo East, Cannon Street or London Bridge from 8pm on Christmas Eve until 4am on Monday 4th January. Service frequency will begin to reduce from the afternoon of 24th December. All trains will be redirected to Victoria, Blackfriars or New Cross and tickets will be accepted on Transport for London services.
Kent’s Members of Parliament met Southeastern’s Managing Director, David Statham, and his team earlier this week to hear more about the plans, which are part of the Thameslink improvement programme at London Bridge.
Michael said: “Whilst I understand this major disruption to services is necessary for the ongoing redevelopment of London Bridge station, I will be monitoring the work to ensure that the reopening of the stations is not delayed. Passengers must not experience any more disruption than is absolutely necessary.”
On Friday, Michael was delighted to visit Knole Academy in the heart of Sevenoaks.
Michael answered questions about his work as a Member of Parliament and Defence Secretary from a range of students, including the Head Boy and Girl, the School Council and students involved in the Duke of Edinburgh Award. Amy Edwards, who Michael recently welcomed to Parliament in her capacity as a National Citizen Service national ambassador, was also present to greet him.
Michael said: “It was excellent to be back at Knole hearing about their latest achievements. It was also good to see Amy again and to meet some of the school’s leading students. The quality of education available in Sevenoaks continues to improve. With Mrs Boyle at the helm, Knole has an important part to play in that progress.”
On this latest regular day in his constituency, Mr Fallon also visited Rockdale Housing Association and held his regular advice surgery.
On Sunday, Michael was honoured to attend events for Remembrance Day in Swanley. After participating in the parade, he laid a wreath at the War Memorial before reading the poem ‘In Flanders Fields’ at a service in St. Mary’s Church.
For more photos from the day, please visit the Gallery.
Michael welcomed Amy Edwards, who has been selected to become one of the National Citizen Service’s (NCS) national ambassadors, to Parliament last week.
Amy, a pupil at Knole Academy, is one of just 100 young people across the country to become a national ambassador from the 80,000 that took part in the NCS programme in 2015.
Established in 2011 to create a more responsible society, NCS is a three week programme that brings together 16 and 17 year olds from a range of backgrounds to face outdoor challenges, learn skills for life and work, extend their social networks and make their mark on their community. NCS provides programmes across the country that cost no more than £50, with volunteers spending 30 hours delivering a project of their choice.
Michael said: “I was delighted to meet Amy. I congratulated her on her achievement and I look forward to supporting her efforts to promote and expand NCS in my constituency in any way I can.”
Michael has welcomed Southeastern’s commitment to introduce a number of measures to minimise disruption for commuters from the Sevenoaks constituency this autumn and winter.
Michael wrote to Southeastern’s Managing Director, David Statham, earlier this month to seek assurances about what plans Southeastern has to mitigate the impact of poor weather conditions on train performance.
In his response, Mr Statham stated that:
An additional three water jetting trains have been allocated to Kent this year by Network Rail to remove leaf debris;
Additional trackside equipment has been placed in areas that have caused serious disruption to journeys in the past to reduce the risk of disruptive incidents;
Southeastern will run empty trains through the night to keep tracks clear of ice;
Network Rail has installed heaters and NASA grade insulation to points at key locations and protective covers to points and point motors to keep snow out and prevent damage by ice falling from trains;
Southeastern has invested in hand-held mechanical snow ploughs to keep platforms, car parks and forecourts free of ice and snow;
Southeastern has reached agreement with Kent County Council to use its resources to ensure that station approach roads are kept clear.
On 4th October, Southeastern also introduced some changes to their timetable to take account of changing weather conditions and give passengers more certainty about arrival times.
Michael said: “I welcome the assurances that Southeastern have given me. They believe they are better equipped for poor weather conditions than before. But I will be continuing to monitor their performance to ensure that any problems that develop during the autumn and winter are dealt with as quickly and effectively as possible so that my constituents suffer the minimum of disruption.”
Michael enjoyed a visit to Tubs Hill House in the heart of Sevenoaks on Friday. The site formerly consisted of offices and is now being converted into 100 high quality new apartments, which will reinvigorate the centre of Sevenoaks.
The Prime Place project was begun in the summer by contractors Buxton Group, who will be using local tradespeople for the project. Willmott Dixon, who own the site, have a close relationship with Sevenoaks, having already constructed brand new buildings for Trinity Free School and Knole Academy.
Michael said: “It is essential that we build the homes that we need for future generations. Redevelopments like the one being undertaken at Tubs Hill House are an intelligent way to create more homes and reinvigorate our town without creating further urban sprawl or intruding on the Green Belt. It was a pleasure to see the latest progress on the site.”
On this latest regular day in his constituency, Mr Fallon also met Inspector Robert Slade at Swanley Police Station to discuss a number of local concerns and held his regular advice surgery at the offices of Sevenoaks District Council.
On Friday, Michael was pleased to open a new kitchen at New Ash Green Primary School.
Michael met the school council and spoke to pupils in a school assembly, answering questions on a variety of local and national topics.
The school’s new kitchen was funded by £180,000 from the Government as part of the universal infant free schools meals programme. Work took place during the summer holidays and the kitchen is now in use. The meals have been well received by parents and pupils.
Michael also visited Horizon Primary Academy in Swanley, where he met pupils participating in their new Scouting initiative, and Hextable Primary School in Swanley, where he reviewed the school’s progress and recent expansion.
Michael said: “It was great to visit three excellent local schools. I very much enjoyed opening New Ash Green Primary School’s new kitchen; healthy school meals help pupils to achieve their best and I am pleased that Government funding made the difference. Horizon Primary Academy is to be congratulated on its scouting initiative and I will work to ensure that Hextable Primary School’s recent expansion is properly funded.”
For more information, please visit New Ash Green Primary School’s website.
Michael applauds the Department for Education’s decision to approve Weald of Kent Grammar School’s application to build an annexe in the Sevenoaks constituency.
Following the announcement, Michael congratulated everyone who supported the campaign. He also called on the school and Kent County Council to implement the decision as soon as possible in order to successfully achieve the intended opening date of September 2017.
Michael said: “I am very, very pleased with the decision to approve Weald of Kent Grammar School’s application to build an annexe in Sevenoaks. I have strongly encouraged the Minister to reach this decision, which will finally end the absurd situation of Sevenoaks being the only area in Kent not to have a grammar school. It will also help to ease the growing pressure on school places in West Kent. Parents will have more choice, pupils will have shorter journeys and more of them will be able to access high quality schooling on their doorstep.
‘I would like to congratulate all the parents and campaigners who worked so hard for so long to achieve this great result. It was strong local support that helped make the difference. Following Thursday’s excellent decision, it is now time to move forward and get this new annexe built on the Wildernesse site as soon as possible. After all the time taken to get the go ahead, parents and pupils have a right to expect no further delays.”
Michael was very pleased that figures released today by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that the number of people out of work in Sevenoaks fell again this month.
The unemployment rate in the Sevenoaks constituency is now just 0.9%. The number of people unemployed has fallen by almost 20% so far this year and is now 58% lower than in 2010. Youth unemployment has also fallen by a third since the same month last year.
Michael said: “It is extremely good news that unemployment in Sevenoaks has fallen once again this month. I also welcome the fact that unemployment across the country is now at a seven-year low, while the employment rate is the highest since records began. Sevenoaks is continuing to experience the benefits of the Government’s long-term economic plan to support hardworking people.”
Michael has welcomed figures showing that deprivation in the Sevenoaks constituency remains far lower than elsewhere in England.
Recent figures released by the Department for Communities and Local Government (CLG) and analysed by the House of Commons Library show that the constituency was placed 462 out of 533 English constituencies (with 1 being most deprived and 533 being least deprived) on the overall Index of Multiple Deprivation.
The constituency received a particularly impressive ranking on the ‘Health Deprivation and Disability’ domain, where it placed 510 out of 533.
Sevenoaks was also one of a minority of constituencies with no local areas described as ‘highly deprived’.
Michael said: “The Government’s efforts to tackle the root causes of deprivation are helping to keep it low in my constituency. It is particularly welcome that nowhere in the constituency is highly deprived. The dramatic fall in unemployment and our welfare reforms are making a difference.”