Best Small Shops Competition

Nominations are now open for the Best Small Shops competition.

Best Small Shops’ judges are looking for evidence of a small shops’ entrepreneurial spirit and positive impact on their community.

If that sounds like your shop, or one you know, then you can enter by visiting: 

Voting closes on Monday 9th September.

Look again at school funding

This week I added my name to a letter to the new Prime Minister to urge him to look again at school funding.

There is an imbalance between the amount schools here in Kent receive compared to schools in cities. That needs to change.

There will be an opportunity in the next Spending Review to look again at all areas of our spending commitments, but I am clear that school funding must be a priority. No headteacher should have to face making cuts to simply prevent their school falling into deficit.

Cystic Fibrosis sufferers cannot keep waiting on treatment

At present, cystic fibrosis sufferers cannot access the most advanced medicines to aid their symptoms, Orkambi and Symkevi.   NHS England, NICE and Vertex Pharmaceuticals, the company which supplies the medicines, have not yet been able to agree a financial compromise.

That is why I have joined fellow MPs to write to both the Health Secretary and the CEO of Vertex to ask the government what else can be done in order to make sure cystic fibrosis sufferers get these drugs without delay by whatever means necessary.   Patients must not have to wait for life-changing treatment – and I expect to see a solution swiftly.

Fallon urges water regulator to get tough on Thames Water abstraction in the Darent

Sir Michael Fallon has this week urged OFWAT, the regulator for water in England and Wales, to take a tougher stance on water abstraction from the Darent River in response to an appeal from the Darent River Preservation Society.

The Darent, which consists of clean chalk aquifers fed solely by rainfall, is routinely abstracted from by Thames Water – even though the South East is the region with the lowest levels of rainfall in the country.  The Sevenoaks MP has warned that continued abstraction is ‘unsustainable’.

Sir Michael said: “At current levels, the Darent is set to run dry.  That is even before you consider the nearly 24,000 new homes both Sevenoaks District Council and Dartford Borough Council have been instructed to build in the coming years.  OFWAT must exercise greater control over unrestricted abstraction and hold companies like Thames Water properly accountable for their actions.”

Sevenoaks Heritage Exhibition

On 21st June I was very pleased to visit the Sevenoaks Heritage Exhibition. This exhibition, hosted by the Sevenoaks Society, is a visual display of the 900 year history of Sevenoaks with photographs, paintings and original artwork which includes the town’s iconic landmarks. It is part of Sevenoaks’ 50th Summer Festival.

Sevenoaks Society: Richard Baxter, Treasurer; Sir Michael Harrison, President; Sir Michael Fallon MP; David Green, Chairman; and Geraldine Tucker

Fallon demands motorway clear-up and better signage

Sevenoaks MP Michael Fallon met Highways Agency managers last week to press for cleaner motorway verges and more action to stop HGVs passing through the town centre.

He has demanded new signs and cameras to curb roadside litter, especially at the slip roads at M25 junctions 3 and 4.  “Let’s see more prosecutions and warnings.  Money spent clearing up litter means less spent on road maintenance and potholes.”

Sir Michael also wants more done to divert lorries away from Sevenoaks town centre. “Better signage on the A21 would help direct more northbound traffic heading east up to junction 3”.

Thatcher didn’t cling on like this. We need a Brexiteer to lead us out of this paralysis

  It’s nearly thirty years ago now but none of us who were there will ever forget the quiet dignity of Margaret Thatcher’s final days in office. From the moment she won – won! – the first leadership ballot, through that dreadful Wednesday, and on to her triumphant final speech as Prime Minister in the confidence debate the following day, it was impossible not to be moved by her grace and poise. She had to go, not because she fell a few votes short of the ballot threshold, but because in the end she had lost the confidence of her colleagues. When your own Cabinet tells you that your time is up, it is.

Theresa May’s time is up, and the sooner she goes the better. Of course she should have gone earlier, after losing the first or second Withdrawal Agreement votes, or perhaps even earlier when only the payroll saved her in the December leadership challenge. That would have given a new leader time to rework the Agreement and might have spared us the terrible local election losses this month and the European election results to come. Clinging to office has diminished her and destroyed any remaining value in her legacy.

That is why Denis Thatcher and other senior advisers turned down our pleas for Margaret to stand and fight. We wanted her to open up the second ballot to all-comers and tough her way through to the third, transferable round. There was every chance she could have done enough to win and stayed on as prime minister. But they knew that being honest about her political position was the only way to ensure that she wouldn’t be humiliated. Who on earth has been advising Mrs May these past weeks and months?

The rest of us now need to get on and choose a new leader as promptly and efficiently as we can. After the hustings, the parliamentary rounds should be telescoped into a single day, allowing the wider membership a few weeks to hear and test the final two candidates. The new leader must be in place soon in order to make the most of the remaining weeks before the latest Brexit deadline at the end of October. They must also be somebody who can give fresh impetus to the work we need to do with Brussels, Dublin, Paris and Berlin.

That will require courage and drive, but above all honesty. Leaving the European Union cannot be either simple or quick: it has to involve transition, compromise and some difficult truths. I will vote for a Leader who can articulate the trade-offs involved on issues such as trade and migration and then build a consensus behind them in Parliament.

The most important task, though, is to rethink the arrangements for the island of Ireland. Mrs May ignored the one parliamentary majority that was achieved, back in January, for the “Brady amendment”. Work is already in hand with experts advising our parliamentary commission (I am a commissioner), looking again at how different customs checks might work for small traders and farm produce.

Brexit in the end, though, cannot be half-hearted. If we are to take Parliament and the country on this course, it has to be delivered with clarity and honesty but con brio, too. That points to our choosing a Brexiteer, and one with the drive and experience to lead a fresh Cabinet team.

We are not short of candidates, and I can see leaders of the future in ministers such as Matt Hancock and Penny Mordaunt. But my vote will go to the candidate ready now to take us through Brexit and beyond.

Brexit should be the gateway to a bigger future. It’s a chance to rethink our capitalism and make it more inclusive. Home ownership and proper pensions are becoming the preserve of the rich. Our economy has become too metropolitan, with London sucking the lifeblood and talent out of our northern towns. Challenger businesses aren’t helped by timid regulators. A new chancellor should slash and burn our creaking tax system. Outside the EU, we will need stronger partnerships with our other allies and better ways of selling British brainpower around the world.

As it happens, I don’t regret voting Remain: but I certainly will regret us not now maximising every opportunity that Brexit can open to us.

You can read the article on the Telegraph website here: