Michael was at Sevenoaks Bus Station to launch the new 401 silver service run by Go Coach – the Sevenoaks bus company. He then rode on the newly purchased bus along the 401 route to Chipstead and back.
Michael said: “I am delighted to see the new bus with its luxury leather seating and wifi. The 401 is my local service from Sundridge to Sevenoaks and I am sure it will now attract much more custom. I congratulate Go Coach on their new investment.
Michael gave the opening address at the first ever Sevenoaks District Community and Voluntary Awards. He praised extraordinary number of nominations and thanked all those who did so much, so selflessly for our community.
He emphasised the importance of community in bringing us all together and in enhancing collective well-being; he also noted the impact of volunteering on the volunteers themselves who were able to develop their own skills and widen their social base.
To close the evening Michael presented the lifetime achievement award to Sandra Stewart who ran the Brownie Pack in West Kingsdown for 27 years. Due to Sandra’s ill-health her award was collected on her behalf by her daughter Samantha.
Keen to get back to constituency work, Michael held his first Advice Surgery after the General Election. It was a full evening on Friday, meeting constituents who need his support.
Later, Michael called in to inspect the exhibition of the designs for a new Community and Conference Centre in the Bat & Ball area of Sevenoaks. Sevenoaks Town Council and the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Competitions announced a shortlist for the competition recently. You can see the designs and provide feedback on the five concept designs which have been shown anonymously by 11.59pm on Monday 18th May here. The judging panel will shortly make its recommendation to the Town Council and the winning design will be publicly announced on 8th June 2015.
Once the preferred concept design has been chosen then a more detailed plan for both interior and exterior will be produced in approximately 6 months.
Two All Churches Together election hustings with all the Parliamentary Candidates have now been held – one in Hextable for the Swanley group of churches in mid-April and one last night in the United Reformed Church, St John’s Hill for the Sevenoaks Group.
Nearly 200 people attended both meetings and the candidates answered a range of questions covering Christian values, the NHS, local education, housing, foreign aid, Trident and defence, immigration, and the deficit and national debt.
Rafferty’s, the village shop in Eynsford, was relaunched by Michael today. It is opposite Norman’s Butchers and Wards Estate Agents. The shop has recently undergone a refit and a change of direction. Lots of local produce (including Shoreham wine) is now stocked.
Many congratulations – very best wishes for the future to Rafferty’s. There was a crowd and it was great to see again Norman as well!
Two weeks before the earthquake struck Nepal an expedition of boys from Tunbridge Wells Grammar School for Boys (many of whom live in the Sevenoaks area) went to do some charity work and trekking in Kathmandu and Pokhara with World Challenge – exactly where they earthquake struck a week ago. One adult member of the group is still stranded there (but safe). Many of the places they saw and people they met will have been greatly affected and so the students decided to arrange a cake sale for the DEC appeal.
Michael called at the stall in Bligh’s, Sevenoaks today to provide support and, of course, invested in a few cakes as well. He explained to the students how the Ministry of Defence has been able to assist with aid and described the personnel and equipment that has been mobilised in recent days – but the problems facing the country are huge and devastating – as many of them already knew.
It was a full house in the Pamoja Hall, Sevenoaks School last night when all the parliamentary candidates attended for a General Election question time. Thanks to all who organised the event – the questions were excellent!
According to the exit poll, there was a resounding victory following the debate: out of 280 votes, the Conservatives came first with 125 (44.6%), leaving second-placed Labour trailing on a mere 17.9%.
It was a busy day in and around the area on Tuesday with a visit to Amherst School in Sevenoaks in the morning. This was for a Q & A session with year 6 pupils who had visited and toured Parliament in March.
This was followed by a visit to Knole Academy‘s Mock General Election Event for a lunchtime meeting for students interested in either standing as a candidate or being an active campaigner in the future. The meeting was one of a series with all the parliamentary candidates, for students who are making up their minds about which political party to represent at their Mock Election on 6th May.
Next was a visit to Total Fitness Gym which is based above Iceland and opposite Costa in Swanley. Serra Chakarto and her business partner have just opened this state-of-the-art gym with fantastic equipment specially selected and imported from Italy. This is a gym for all members of the community, whatever state of fitness or age – with a friendly atmosphere where everyone is treated with great respect.
In the evening Michael held a campaign meeting in Kemsing to meet local residents and introduce Lorraine Stack and Simon Reay who are standing as the local Conservative candidates in the Sevenoaks District Council elections. this was well-attended, and as in previous meetings, there was a good discussion about a great many topics, both national and local.
The next meeting will be in Underriver Village Hall on the evening of Thursday 23rd April at 7.30 pm
I was pleased to support and officially open the Sevenoaks Business Show today.
There are now 760,000 more business in the UK than there were five years ago. Since 2010, more than 2.2 million new jobs have been created. In the Sevenoaks area the number of unemployed persons has halved – from 1,074 in 2010 to 484 in March 2015. These are both remarkable achievements.
Small businesses are the lifeblood of our economy and the driving force of the economic recovery. From cutting taxes to helping hire staff – the Government is backing small businesses and will always make sure that they get the support they need to start up and thrive.
We have some amazing businesses here in the Sevenoaks area. As MP and a Minister I have always been unashamedly pro-enterprise. That means promoting competition, opening up markets, and championing new firms. It’s something I’ve done whether in the Business Department scrapping red tape, or as an Energy Minister backing new suppliers. It is also what I am doing in the Ministry of Defence by opening up more government spending to SMEs.
Michael has been holding meetings with local Conservative District Council candidates recently and more are to come over the next few days and weeks.
Last week over 40 residents from Knockholt met Cllrs Gary Williamson and John Grint from the Halstead, Knockholt and Badgers Mount Ward.
Last night there were 80 in the audience in New Ash Green Village Hall to meet Claire Pearsall and Cllrs Cameron Clark and Alan Pett standing for Ash and New Ash Green.
Questions have covered zero hours contracts, defence, the size of the army, fracking, immigration, Right to Buy, the economy and the deficit, foreign affairs and the Middle East, Trident, taxation and local issues such as the Fort Halstead planning application, New Ash Green village regeneration and speeding traffic on country roads.