The Vital Work of Women’s Refuge

Michael has praised the ‘vital’ work of staff at a local Women’s Refuge.

The refuge, based at a secret location in West Kent, accommodates women and their children who have experienced domestic abuse.  For these families, the seven-room refuge is their only safe space.  Run by Look Ahead Care Support and Housing and managed by Yvette Hazeldon, the refuge provides families the time and security needed to reintegrate into society.

During his visit, Ms Hazeldon briefed Michael about the high demand for accommodation in the refuge, adding that the nature of the demand has changed because social media enables perpetrators to locate victims more easily.s Refuge 22 Sept 17

They reviewed the Government’s work to help victims of domestic abuse.  Despite record numbers of prosecutions and convictions since 2010, there are still two million victims of domestic abuse every year in England and Wales.

Michael told Ms Hazeldon that the Government will introduce a Draft Domestic Violence and Abuse Bill to bring to the justice system greater clarity about the impact of domestic abuse on families and encourage better response to the lifelong impact on children into adulthood.

He said: ‘My office regularly deals with cases involving domestic abuse.  This refuge provides a vital service in keeping families safe.  We will work together to ensure the Government are taking the right steps to support victims.’

Michael Hails ‘Outstanding’ Local Police

Michael has hailed the ‘outstanding’ work of the local police force following a recent meeting with the new district commander for Sevenoaks, Chief Inspector Tony Dyer.

Kent Police have previously been awarded ‘Good’ in Effectiveness and Efficiency and ‘Outstanding’ in Legitimacy by HMIC inspectors.

In the wide-ranging meeting, CI Dyer reported on general crime trends, mental healthcare, speeding and specific operations relating to Michael’s casework.  Michael was pleased to learn that the force will introduce new innovative measures for tackling speeding in the future.

MF and CI Tony Dyer outside Swanley Police Station 1 22 Sept 17

Michael was also keen to learn more about recruitment following reports that the number of officers and PCSOs in Kent Police has risen earlier in the year.  CI Dyer reassured him that recruitment targets will be met.

Michael said: ‘Following a comprehensive meeting with CI Dyer, I am positive about the direction of the force, which has been recognised for its outstanding work, and its ability to maintain law and order in the constituency.’

Defend Yourself Online

Michael has warned consumers to defend themselves online at an information session on safe and secure banking in Swanley on Saturday.

The session was hosted by Barclays and was organised by Michael following the announced closure of the Farningham branch.  Designed to help customers to explore the alternatives to branch banking, experts were on-hand at the event to explain what services are available through the Post office and through online, mobile and telephone banking.

It was a good opportunity for the local MP to discuss the work that Barclays has done to support Farningham customers with Will Dixon, the Community Banking Director for Barclays in Kent, and Judith Gafatchi, the Swanley branch manager.

Crucially, the event also covered digital safety where local residents learned to protect themselves from financial fraud and scams.

Michael said: ‘Banks have a duty to ensure all residents affected by sudden branch closures are still able to access banking simply, safely and securely.  Learning to defend yourself online is vital in this digital age.  I will continue to work with banks to ensure everyone can access the services they need.’

Good News – Longer Trains

Michael has welcomed the Transport Secretary’s announcement today that longer trains will now call at local stations on services to London.

A third of peak-time services will be lengthened, offering Southeastern customers more than 5,000 additional seats starting today.

In his announcement, the Transport Secretary said he is ‘confident passengers will notice the benefits of these longer trains immediately’, adding, ‘I am committed to getting passengers more comfortable, reliable and efficient journeys.’

The changes will affect stations across the constituency, including Dunton Green, Kemsing, Otford, Sevenoaks and Swanley. Maidstone East line trains will have more air-conditioned modern carriages with some peak-time trains doubling in length. On the Hayes, Baxleyheath, Woolwich, Sidcup, Bromley South and Grove Park lines, passengers will see a number of peak-time trains lengthened from eight to ten carriages while some six-car trains will lengthen to eight.se-68-extra-carriages-map-2017

Michael said: ‘Southeastern are finally reacting to capacity problems I’ve highlighted for years. But these improvements could go further. That’s why I plan to meet Southeastern and Network Rail in the coming months to ensure passengers get a better deal now rather than later.’

Sevenoaks Business Show Awards 2017

Michael said wider society could learn from the values of small businesses in his address at the annual Sevenoaks Business Show Awards on Friday.

‘I support small businesses because they embody freedom and independence, individual responsibility and the principles of Meritocracy’, Michael said to an audience of local businesses.

‘In small businesses, you have a real stake in its success and the rewards gained are directly related to the effort that is invested.

Wider society has a lot to learn from small businesses.’

As Patron of the Sevenoaks Town Partnership, which organised the event, Michael spoke about the local economy, the achievements of local businesses and the support provided to small businesses by the Government.

He also highlighted the historic low unemployment levels and increasing number of enterprise startups in the constituency.

The full transcript of Michael’s speech can be found below.

 

 

Celebrating Local Enterprise                        15th September

[Introduction]

I am delighted to be here again at this great event as the Patron of Sevenoaks Town Partnership and to see so many businesses up for awards.

 

[Local successes]

Business is thriving in Sevenoaks in spite of the challenges we face.

Once again, I am delighted as your Member of Parliament to look back on a strong year for the town.

I want to take this opportunity to pay tribute to the Sevenoaks Town Partnership,

Which is comprised of businesses and retailers,

Chamber of Commerce, Sevenoaks Town Council,

And the Sevenoaks Chronicle.

They play a crucial role in supporting local enterprise,

And we have seen the fruits of their hard work ripen.

Local businesses are continuing to grow,

Punching above their weight not only here in the UK…

But also selling across the world.

Were you aware, for example, of a business that develops off-grid renewable energy in rural Africa,

Based here in Sevenoaks?

Or of a business that stocks the House of Commons with its famous single-malt Scotch,

Whilst exporting vodka to Poland, gin to Europe, and Kosher whisky Israel,

Based here in Sevenoaks?

Children in Africa, who may know nothing about our country, nor understand our language, will know of Sevenoaks.

Many of the world’s leading figures, who purchase Parliament’s whisky as a souvenir for their friends and family back home, will know of Sevenoaks.

Our town continues to be the home of some of the most innovative and unique businesses in the country,

Most of them working out of small cabinets on our buzzing business parks.

Indeed, over 700 new enterprises have set their sights on success in Sevenoaks since 2010…

100 in the last two years…

That’s more than one business startup every week.

As more businesses begin and more enterprises expand,

There are more and more jobs to fill.

Local unemployment remains at a record low.

This puts the constituency in the top 50 out of 650 in the country.

That is something to be hugely proud of.

But it’s also something we can still work hard to improve.

Young people here now have a real choice when they finish their education.

With local business thriving, they can choose to work here,

Or, with connections to London improving, they can choose to work elsewhere.

Because Sevenoaks is not just a commuter town.

It is the birthplace of innovative businesses providing local employment, like yours.

 

[Government support]

Our successes locally can be attributed to the hard work and talent of local businesses and partnerships.

But our successes locally are not surprising when one considers the following:

The UK is already the fifth largest economy in the world, the biggest recipient of foreign investment in Europe, and the fastest growing economy in the G7.

I recognise that it is because of this success,

Both locally and nationally,

That many of you may be concerned about leaving the European Union.

As a businessman myself, I understand the pressures we face from uncertainty.

Rest assured, the Government’s top priority is securing the future of our businesses;

Especially the small and medium-sized businesses, like yours, that constitute 99 per cent of businesses in the UK.

Because this Government believes in small business.

With firms comprised of fewer than 200 employees responsible for around two fifths of our national income;

Employing 80 per cent of the total workforce;

And creating nearly half of all private sector turnover in the UK,

You are indispensable to the creation of jobs and of wealth.

I will do my part to champion businesses in Parliament,

Supporting the Government’s cut to business rates and corporation tax,

And our determination to regulate more efficiently.

But more needs to be done to cut red tape and ensure small businesses can export more easily.

I will also work to ensure that local enterprises have access to the funding and resources they need.

 

[Conclusion]

I support small businesses because they embody freedom and independence,

Individual responsibility;

And the principles of Meritocracy.

In small businesses, you have a real stake in its success,

And the rewards gained are directly related to the effort that is invested.

Wider society has a lot to learn from small businesses.

So I want to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to all of you,

As well as offer my congratulations to those nominated:

For supporting our robust local economy,

For providing jobs for the next generation,

And for making Sevenoaks the best place for families anywhere in the country.

Thank you.

Michael Time Travels for 100th Anniversary

Michael visited the Leonard Cheshire Disability care home in Chipstead last week to celebrate the 100-year anniversary of its founder’s birth.

Leonard Cheshire Disability is a major health and welfare charity working in the UK and around the world. It was founded in 1948 by RAF pilot Leonard Cheshire and works to move disabled individuals toward independent living.

Michael met Kevin Parkes, Service Manager, and Deputy Managers, Anne-Marie Pert and Shelley Conneely, who introduced him to the care home’s oldest resident. Staff were dressed in early 20th century attire in honour of the centenary and there were tea-dancers performing to live music.

‘This is a great example of what can be achieved through community effort’, Michael said. ‘The charity’s projects support the Government’s wider efforts to get more disabled people into employment. Together we will work to finally close the disability gap.’

Fallon Fielded for 3G Pitch Opening

On Saturday, Michael officially opened the new 3G Football Pitch for Sevenoaks Town Football Club at Greatness Recreation Ground.

At the well-attended event, Michael congratulated the club Chairman, Paul Lansdale, the staff and players, the Council and the sponsors. He then helped cut the ribbon with the Mayor and some of the players.

The innovative new pitch was recommended by Sevenoaks Town Council as part of their Sevenoaks Sports Strategy and costs £400,000. The funding was achieved through a £70,000 grant from Cory Environmental Trust Britain, a £130,000 donation from The Sevenoaks Fund and a £200,000 donation from the Town Council. The new floodlit pitch will be used by Sevenoaks Town FC’s 60 teams and local primary schools free of charge.

Image 7

Michael said: ‘This is the result of a real community effort and will be used by local schools as well as Sevenoaks Town FC. A symbol of diversity, opportunity and the strong community spirit here in Sevenoaks, this pitch is an important addition to our area and helps put our teams onto the front foot.’

Swanley Rugby Club

Swanley Rugby Football Club
Swanley Rugby Football Club

Michael was delighted to be present for the first ever match of the newly-created Swanley Rugby Football Club with a friendly against Sheppey RFC.

As a keen supporter of rugby he is pleased to lend support and congratulated all concerned with this new venture.  After meeting the team and officials Michael said:

‘This club is a community, right from kick-off.  Encouraging active lifestyles, particularly among the young, with teamwork, friendship and loyalty – these things are so important.  It can take a rugby club to bring people together; businesses, children of different ages and backgrounds, and families.

I want to congratulate everyone who has made this happen:  your Chairman and Committee, the coaching team, players and first aiders, the sponsors, Swanley Town Council and all those who support the team at home and away.  I look forward watching the progress of the Club through the season and wish them the very best of luck in the future.’

Brasted Outdoor Gym

Michael opened a brand new Outdoor Gym on Brasted Recreation Ground today.  He was welcomed by Simon Thorogood, Chair of Brasted Parish Council.

Michael Fallon using the new Outdoor Gym

After congratulating all involved with this exciting new development, Michael said:

‘It’s important that communities invest in peoples’ health.  We are the first generation to need to make a conscious effort to build physical activity into our daily lives.  Fewer of us have manual jobs; technology dominates the workplace and, sometimes, our homes.  We now live in a society that has designed activity out of our lives.

That’s why local initiatives like this are so important.

Being an outdoor gym, close to all the other facilities available on the Recreation Ground, this will serve as a public reminder that there are many ways to keep fit and will demonstrate that exercising can also be fun for all ages.

I congratulate Brasted Parish Council, Sevenoaks District Council and all those in Brasted village who have pulled together to make this project work.’

Aiming for 100%

Michael has welcomed new figures released by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport that show current superfast coverage in the Sevenoaks constituency is over 92 per cent.

The Government funded BDUK programme has made superfast broadband available to 13,112 homes and businesses, and it estimates that 95 per cent of the constituency will have superfast coverage by the end of the year.

The Government is also introducing a Broadband Universal Service Obligation to give consumers the right to request fast, affordable broadband wherever they live and work.

This will mean that by 2022, everyone can request a connection of at least 10Mbps, which is around half the speed of superfast, but still quick enough to download a half-hour TV show in two minutes.  Currently, less than 3 per cent of premises in the Sevenoaks constituency receive below 10Mbps.

The availability of superfast broadband services for specific homes and businesses can be checked at http://gosuperfastchecker.culture.gov.uk/.

Michael said: ‘It’s good news that much of the constituency is already covered by superfast broadband.  But I won’t rest until we get 100 per cent coverage.  I will continue to work hard with ministers, BT and KCC to ensure constituents and businesses are getting the speeds they need.’