Fallon: “Tackle leaks and leave our river alone”

Sevenoaks MP Sir Michael Fallon has this week criticised Thames Water’s abstraction from the River Darent and called on the company to make a much firmer commitment to reducing chalk stream abstraction.

The River Darent already provides water for hundreds of homes in the Darenth Valley and will face further challenges if new homes are built in the area. 

Sir Michael said: “Thames Water must commit to stopping abstraction that impacts on vulnerable chalk streams in order to ensure the Darent’s survival.  The Darent is being sucked dry to provide water for London which wouldn’t be needed if Thames did much more to tackle leakage.”

South Eastern Franchise delay must not mean delay to investment

I have today written to the new Transport Secretary to inform him that the cancellation of the South Eastern Franchise must not mean further to delays to vital planned infrastructure spending on our local rail networks. My constituents have been promised faster, higher capacity and more reliable trains – and they must get them.

I have urged the Department for Transport to work with Angel Trains, who stand ready with £1 billion to invest in the delivery of new trains, to give commuters the carriages they deserve.

Dartford, Gravesham and Swanley CCG: Choose Darent Valley Hospital for new Urgent Treatment Centre

NHS Dartford, Gravesham and Swanley clinical commissioning group is undertaking a public consultation on their plans to reform urgent care services in Dartford, Gravesham and Swanley.

I will be making the CCG aware that a new Urgent Treatment Centre in Gravesham would be too far for my constituents to travel, and that creating one at Darent Valley Hospital is the better option.

You can have your say too here: www.dartfordgraveshamswanleyccg.nhs.uk

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: www.indieretail.uk/best-small-shops/best-small-shops-competition-2019/. 

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