Sir Michael Fallon has today urged again the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government to lower the “wholly unrealistic” housing target of building 13,400 new homes by 2035.
The request follows research by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), which suggested that the Government’s previous house building projection of 210,000 new homes had been downgraded to 159,000.
Sir Michael said: “I have already urged the Housing Secretary to revisit the wholly unrealistic target due to Sevenoaks’s overwhelming amount of Green Belt and Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The newly revised ONS figures show he must not force us to build on the Green Belt when there’s no need to do so.”
I was delighted to this week attend the Swanley Business Expo, a joint initiative between Swanley Town Council and Sevenoaks and District Chambers of Commerce to promote local businesses in the area.
Small and medium-sized businesses are the backbone of our economy: they pump money into the local economy, creating jobs and community supply chains.
It was a real privilege to meet so many exciting small businesses in Swanley – a place far more than a commuter town. I look forward very much to hearing about their successes in the future.
Today in Parliament, I had the pleasure helping Breast Cancer Now prepare for #wearitpink on October 19th.
Since 2002, Breast Cancer Now has raised over £31 million to fund life-saving research, including here in Sevenoaks. 55,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer each year – and it is organisations such as BNC that drive forward research into detection, prevention and effective treatment.
To find out more about their work, visit: https://www.wearitpink.org/.
Michael had a very busy constituency day on Friday 31st August. First, he met Jill Roberts, Chief Executive at West Kent Mind, to discuss progress and was delighted to learn that they had increased their funding on last year and were running at full capacity.
West Kent Mind are working on several new initiatives, including meeting local schools agencies to try to detect early signs of mental health in children and prevent it. West Kent Mind now also run counselling services for those who have suffered loss (not just bereavement), and have expanded their work into Ashford. For more information on the fantastic services West Kent Mind run, visit here: https://westkentmind.org.uk/
West Kent Housing Association
Swiftly after that, he visited White Oak Court in Swanley where the West Kent Housing Association (WKHA) and Sevenoaks District Council (SDC) have set up self-contained apartments as part of their ‘Starts at Home’ sheltered housing scheme.
Michael met residents and received a tour of the apartments along with local councillors. County Councils are increasingly asking planning authorities to factor extra care housing such as White Oak Court as alternatives for more expensive residential care homes.
Michael held his regular monthly surgery in Sevenoaks, helping constituents with a range of issues, before he addressed local Conservative Party members at the Sevenoaks Town Council offices about Brexit and the Prime Minister’s Chequers Deal.
Michael took questions for 90 minutes on the current state of Brexit negotiations, and local members were free to air their views in a lively discussion.
It is for Sevenoaks District Councillors to adopt the Local Plan and they are consulting on the details.
I want to make clear that I am not in favour of building new houses on our Green Belt. Indeed I have continued to object to the 14,000 total of new houses that the government proposes: it’s unachievable without breaching a significant amount of Green Belt land. I will continue to urge the Communities Secretary James Brokenshire, to reconsider.
I am aware that Sevenoaks Hockey Club and Sevenoaks Rugby Club (where I am a Vice-President) need more pitches, and I support both of them. But this should not be interpreted as support for any particular new housing proposal.
Sports Minister, Tracey Crouch MP, this week visited the Greatness Recreation Ground in Sevenoaks.
The trip’s purpose was to learn more about the the cooperation between Sevenoaks Football Club and Sevenoaks Town Council in funding the state-of-the-art facilities, including the new 3G pitch.
The Sports Minister met the Mayor of Sevenoaks, local councillors and staff from the Recreation Ground before watching a game of Power (wheelchair) Football.
Sir Michael Fallon said: “It was fantastic to welcome the Sports Minister here to Greatness Recreation Ground and see first-hand how our brilliant local initiatives are having a big impact on the community.”
Today, Michael visited the South East Coast Ambulance Service (SECAMB) in Paddock Wood, where he met senior management and reviewed their recent progress.
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“I am glad that SECAMB is improving their response rate. It is vital that our area has quick responses, not just for emergency call-outs, but also for getting people to hospital quickly and safely. I will be following their performance closely.”
Yesterday, Sir Michael pledged his support for the 10 point action plan to help inspire future generations of engineers led by the Royal Academy of Engineering, in collaboration with EngineeringUK.
The plan, part of the This is Engineering campaign, is informed by students (aged between 13-16 years old), and has been developed in response to the significant skills shortage in engineering – the latest figures from EngineeringUK indicate an annual demand for 124,000 engineers and a shortfall of 59,000.
The action plan calls for more businesses to pledge to run “taster days”– a shorter version of work experience – to help students understand the varied role of engineering, and for the Government to tie “taster days” into the upcoming careers strategy.
Following new research conducted by YouGov that shows that kids aged 13-18 are most likely to turn to Google (52%) for career inspiration, ahead of their parents (41%) and teachers (37%) the plan calls for more careers information to be hosted online and a focused effort by Government and industry to provide better information on further education and the opportunities for technician roles.
The report also urges politicians, education providers and the wider business community to support and promote local careers fairs and for politicians and businesses to proactively champion GCSE Design and Technology courses in their local areas. According to 2017 figures, D&T has disappeared from nearly half of schools.
This Is Engineering is a new, multi-year campaign to give more young people from all backgrounds the opportunity to explore careers in engineering, and to raise awareness of the breadth of opportunities available in the profession. Launched in the government’s Year of Engineering, the campaign is being backed by a consortium of major engineering companies.
The Sevenoaks MP said: “Engineering is vital to every aspect of life and will only become more so as technologies continue to develop. I would encourage all schools in Sevenoaks to work in partnership with local businesses to promote career fairs and follow the guidelines in the This is the Future of Engineering plan on how to run a successful event.”
Dear Chris Grayling
My constituents continue to suffer appalling disruption with delays of 2-3 hours on their journeys to work now quite common. Trains are cancelled every day; those that do arrive are frequently late and over-crowded.
Six weeks on from the start of a new timetable which was supposed to bring better services this is clearly unacceptable. The government needs to demonstrate that it understands the frustration caused to so many travellers. Better compensation has already been announced for passengers in the Northern franchise area who will be receiving the cash equivalent of a four-week refund. I would like you now to require Thameslink to introduce an equivalent scheme for my constituent as soon as possible.
Michael Fallon MP
For head teachers in my constituency in need of talented graduates to fill (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) STEM subject teaching roles, I would suggest you take a look at the Teaching Apprenticeship Programme (TAP). Schools can hire Teaching Apprentices and in doing so access significant Apprenticeship Levy and grant funding. The TAP handle the whole process, from sourcing, screening and recruiting graduates for shortage subjects, supporting schools to access funding and delivering a 1 year programme which guides apprentices towards Qualified Teacher Status. Graduates value Teaching Apprenticeships because they are simple to understand and provide a fee-free, salaried route into the profession.
For more information please contact TAP Managing Director Neil Gamewell on Neil.Gamewell@teachingapprenticeships.com or visit www.teachingapprenticeships.com