Westerham Sea Cadets

First Aid Training
First Aid Training

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.

Engineering Training
Engineering Training

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.

Learn much more about Westerham Sea Cadets here.

Google Comes To Sevenoaks

Google came to Sevenoaks in April 2014
Google last came to Sevenoaks in April 2014

You may recall the ‘Google comes to Sevenoaks – Getting British Business Online’ event that Michael hosted at the Stag Theatre, Sevenoaks in April 2014.

Michael is hosting another Google event on Friday 20th March from 3 – 5pm at the Stag Theatre.

This workshop is to help small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs to gain the necessary skills to get the most out of their digital marketing and boost their online presence.

A Google expert with deliver a presentation, followed by a break-out session where Google staff will be on hand to give 1 : 1 consultations, tips, guidance and practical advice on the effective use of Google tools.

This session is free and will be open to all who book a place in advance.  You can find further details here.

Calling for Free Wi-Fi on Southeastern Trains

wifiMichael has welcomed the Government’s announcement that £50 million of funding will be released from the Department for Transport to ensure free wi-fi is available on selected services from 2017, including those offered by Southeastern.

Michael Fallon said:  “I know Sevenoaks commuters would welcome this facility.  I have written to the Chief Executive of Southeastern, David Statham, to consider putting free wi-fi on our services.  It would be a welcome recompense for all the disruption being suffered as a result of the redevelopment at London Bridge station.”

British Heart Foundation – Sevenoaks

Staff and voluteers at British Heart Foundation - Sevenoaks
Staff and volunteers at British Heart Foundation – Sevenoaks

Michael met staff and volunteers at the High Street shop today.  Here are a few of British Heart Foundation’s  interesting statistics for their base in Sevenoaks:

  • The shop is run by 3 paid staff and over 30 volunteers, one of whom originally started as a volunteer
  • Between 700 – 800 donation bags are brought in to the shop per week
  • Up to 2,000 van packs are posted out each week
  • Between 5 -10 collections are made each week
  • 3 – 10 Gift Aid donors are signed up each week providing £140 – £150 of extra funds for the shop
  • Average sales per week amount to £4,500
  • The shop made £97,000 profit last year and they have already raised £83,000 this year.

Around the south-east BHF – Sevenoaks has helped to fund

  • 108 healthcare professionals
  • 1,783 defibrillators
  • 24 diagnostic equipment awards
  • 1 Hearty Lives projects
  • 128 Heartstart schemes
  • 36 heart support groups

Ultrafast Broadband in Underriver

underriver broadbandThanks must go for some incredibly hard work over the last 2 years by all members of the local community who have been involved in the Underriver project,  The village is now enjoying the benefits of amazing superfast fibre broadband which has been provided by Gigaclear.  Also to be congratulated are the District and Kent County Council officers who have helped to enable this to be rolled out so efficiently and satisfactorily.  The project is now going further afield to neighbouring villages in the area.

This is a real boost for businesses and residents in this area – originally one of the rural pockets which was having great difficulty with connectivity.  Great news!

Network Rail Act on MP’s Advice

network rail

Network Rail have written to Michael Fallon MP following his visit to London Bridge Station to confirm that they will be acting on several changes which he has been calling for.  Michael said:

“Following my deep concerns about capacity on platforms 1 and 2, Network Rail have assured me that they will be demolishing two of the buildings on the platforms to make extra room for passengers.  Additionally, they have extended the canopy on platform 1 to encourage passengers to use the full length of the platform.

London Bridge Station
London Bridge Station

“Changes to passenger information have also been put in place with additional information screens installed.

“I welcome Network Rail acting after my visit and I will be continuing to monitor the situation at London Bridge very closely.”

__________________________________________________________________________________________________

9th January 2015

Michael met managers from Network Rail today to discuss commuters concerns regarding the London Bridge Station closure and the proposed new Otford railway crossing.

Michael Fallon MP said:  Network Rail have apologised for the recent overcrowding at London Bridge station and the ensuing disruption.  The train drivers should have been better informed and trained to cope with the new lay-out.  I have insisted that they also improve the clarity and authority of passenger announcements, and move people more rapidly to less crowded areas.

“We face nearly two years of disrupted travel. Although the revised timetable has been trialled,  I will be monitoring how it works in the coming weeks, and if there is further disruption I will be calling Network Rail back to answer questions.

I welcome Network Rail’s commitment to work with Otford Parish Council, local District Councillors and residents to secure the best option for a new and safer railway crossing.  I have made it clear that residents’ views must be heard and taken into account before a final decision is made.  I urge all local residents to attend the Public Information Event at Otford Village Hall this Wednesday 14th January (5-9pm).”

Better Answers Wanted from Southeastern

southeasternSevenoaks MP Michael Fallon met Southeastern Chief Executive David Statham on Friday (16th) to review the first days of timetable changes at London Bridge and to register his constituents’ dissatisfaction with the current services.

After the meeting Mr Fallon said:  “Sevenoaks commuters have too few options.  The current tube and bus concessions should be extended to other stations, including Victoria and Bank.  I am pressing TfL to look again at the potential numbers at each station.

“There is still too much confusing information.  Apps, websites and station indicators are all reporting slightly different service information.  I want Southeastern to speed up a single version of the truth so that all passengers have the same information at the same time.

London Bridge Station
London Bridge Station

“David Statham will be travelling in from Sevenoaks early one morning this coming week, and I will be at London Bridge on Tuesday evening to see for myself if the peak hour crowd handling has improved.

“I have pressed Southeastern on compensation. The length of the London Bridge works and the uncertainty about the actual effect on journey times as the works move into the next phases, justify a discount for season ticket holders.  I also believe that there is a strong case for reducing the compensation threshold to 20 minute delays, at least for the period of the rebuild, and I have asked Southeastern to cost this.

“Finally I have asked Southeastern to be ready to make minor changes as necessary, for example to train lengths, without waiting for the next formal timetable reviews.”

Supporting Otford Small Businesses

Mille Fleurs Otford
Mille Fleurs Otford

Michael joined members of the West Kent branch of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) in Otford today to provide support and advice to their members.  Among the shops he visited in the High Street were Mille Fleurs (bespoke hats) and the Bill Skinner Studio (bespoke jewellery).

Jane Cave has been a milliner since 1982 and set up the shop Mille Fleurs in 1997.  The shop also hosts a workshop, where bespoke hats are made on-site using traditional millinery techniques.

The Bill Skinner Studio creates collections using traditional techniques as well as state-of-the-art technology such as 3D printing.  The company employs 14 people at three different locations and exports internationally following extensive restructuring three years ago.

Bill Skinner Studio Otford
Bill Skinner Studio Otford

Michael said: “The small business rate-relief has helped many businesses.  However, I am also keen to support the cutting of red tape in any way possible.  Small businesses in small villages don’t get the same footfall as in the larger towns.  There is strong competition from the internet  so anything that we can all do to help to promote local small businesses must be worthwhile.”