Michael was given a fresh insight into Westerham’s strong community spirit on Friday. In a series of visits, he heard about local concerns and voiced support for the town’s businesses and initiatives.
Michael participated in an assembly at Churchill C of E Primary School and answered questions from pupils. He also heard about and endorsed the school’s ‘Traffic Watch’ scheme to reduce speeds on nearby roads.
He joined local residents and volunteers at the ‘Forget-me-not’ Memory Café at Westerham Congregational Church, which brings dementia sufferers and carers together once a month for conversation and companionship.
Visiting a number of small businesses, including Westerham Cyclery and Chartwell Apothecary, he discussed the state of the local economy and the impact of the changes to business rates announced in the Budget last Wednesday.
Michael said: “With innovative local businesses like Westerham Cyclery and its strong community atmosphere, I was pleased to see that Westerham is as vibrant as ever.
Abolishing business rates for small businesses and shops should be a big boost.”
Town Clerk Angela Howells said: “The Forget-me-not Café has been running for seven months and we were pleased that Mr Fallon was able to come and hear about the need that this initiative is meeting.”
Sevenoaks MP Michael Fallon opened the new Chartwell Technology Centre in Edenbridge on Friday 24th July. This high-tech firm, established in Westerham in 2009, now employs 30 staff on environmental and security solutions for projects such as the Battersea Power station development, and has now taken on two full-time apprentices.
Michael said: “I’m delighted and proud to open these new premises. Chartwell is exactly the kind of growing high-tech company that we need here in Kent to create new, high value jobs. I wish Chartwell every success in winning new project work at home and abroad.”
Michael received a warm welcome from the CPO Jan Dean, colleagues and cadets when he toured TS Gallant in Westerham. Various workshops were being held throughout the building covering all aspects of seamanship, chart work, engineering, first aid, catering and communication information systems.
There was an impressive drill rehearsal in preparation for a forthcoming competition on HMS Raleigh.
The unit is extremely active and flourishing. 17 cadets and 6 staff had recently travelled to Malta for a week long cultural trip and including a Memorial Day to HSM Gallant,
The summer months will be particularly busy with many outdoor activities.
Michael visited several small businesses around the town to hear first-hand about how they are doing at present. Feedback from those he met highlighted three common concerns: business rates, parking restrictions and broadband speeds.
Michael, together with Jane Hunter of the Westerham Town Partnership and Cllr Helen Ogden, Parish Council started the morning at Westerham Parish Church where they met members of the National Youth Ballet, run by local resident Jill Fone, who were rehearsing The Nativity for a performance later that day amid a Festival of Christmas Trees (in aid of St Mary’s Heritage Trust). He then went on to meet Jan of Annie’s Attic who was holding a Christmas craft workshop in Westerham Hall in aid of Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research.
By now the group had grown to include Cllr Roderick Hogarth (Chairman of Economic & Community Development Advisory Committee) and Cllr Kevin Maskell from Sevenoaks District Council and together they all visited The Light Brigade (Lighting) and the Beauty Spot in Horton’s Way. Afterwards they crossed London Road to meet the new owner of The White House Gallery (Picture Framing) and then moved up the hill to call on Nigel, the owner of MooreEnergy Fitness Club. From there they walked to the High Street and visited Ashton Taylor Smith (Antiques) and then crossed the road to Flawless Jewellery who design and make their own individual pieces and provide expert advice for remodelling.
The last two calls of the day were to LA Larratt (Butcher) and then a very welcome cup of coffee at The Courtyard, (‘much more than a coffee shop’) which also provides outside catering.
Thank you to Jane and Helen for organising such a brilliant tour.
Many more pictures from this visit to Westerham can be found in the gallery.