Back to Constituency Work

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.

All Churches Together

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 in Eynsford

Relaunch of Rafferty's of Eynsford
Relaunch of Rafferty’s of Eynsford

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.

Rafferty's now open!
Rafferty’s now open!

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!

Michael with Butcher Norman
Michael with Butcher Norman

 

Nepal Earthquake

Nepal Earthquake Appeal
Nepal Earthquake Appeal

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.

Fundraising for Nepal
Fundraising for Nepal

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.

Election Hustings at Sevenoaks School

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%.

 

Campaigning in Sevenoaks Constituency

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

Sevenoaks Business Show

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.

Knockholt and New Ash Green Campaign Meetings

knockholt2
Knockholt Village Hall Campaign Meeting 9th April

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.

New Ash Green Village Hall 14th April 20115Questions 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.

First Off The Mark For A Vigorous Campaign

Michael with Christian Everett and Dr Pav Ramewal - Handing  in his General Election 2015 Nomination Papers
Michael with Christian Everett and Dr Pav Ramewal – Handing in his General Election 2015 Nomination Papers on 1st April 2015

Michael was the first Sevenoaks parliamentary candidate to hand in his nomination papers at 10am today.

Michael said:
“We’re planning a very vigorous campaign. As well as street canvassing, I will be holding at least eight open public meetings in villages across the constituency. There will also be several all-candidate debates, organised by the churches and local schools, including the Chronicle hustings on Monday 4th May.

“The election issues here will be local as well as national: how we can secure the recovery to provide more jobs here for our young people, to give rail commuters a better deal, and to continue to protect the Green Belt. I will also be supporting our Conservative council candidates: they can be very proud of their record in running good value, efficient services throughout Sevenoaks District.”

I am holding meetings in the following villages over the next few days:

Wednesday 15th April – New Ash Green Village Hall 7.30 pm
Thursday 16th April – Otford Memorial Hall 7.30 pm
Friday 17th April – All-Candidate Hustings organised by Swanley Churches – St Peter’s Church, Hextable 7.00 pm

Note: notwithstanding the dissolution of Parliament Michael continues as Secretary of State for Defence, with ministerial responsibility for the armed forces, in particular for current operations against ISIL, in Afghanistan, and in Sierra Leone. He will carry out his duties at the Ministry of Defence alongside his local and national campaigning, and attend the MoD in London when required.

Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce

Business-is-good-for-Kent-logo1The West Kent Partnership of the Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce, which includes Tonbridge, Tunbridge Wells and Sevenoaks hosted a business breakfast today:  West Kent – The Big Priorities – Have Your Say.  80 businesses were represented at the breakfast to discuss the big, local issues that are holding their business back.

Michael opened the Conference and Exhibition with the following speech:

“It’s a pleasure to be here and to see some many of the  businesses that are making a major contribution to our growing economy and creating jobs for local people.

“What is striking about the last five years is the rate of business creation. Across the South East there are 103,000 more business now than in 2010 – 750,000 in total for the country.

“If you cast your mind back to 2010 that is a remarkable change. Back then our economy was in trouble, with a budget deficit second only to Greece.  But it doesn’t surprise those of us who understand that it is businesses that generate the wealth that funds our public services.

“That’s why despite the fiscal challenges we faced, the cornerstone of our economic plan was to back business.  We’ve cut corporation tax, increased tax incentives for investing in growing businesses, cut the jobs tax, and invested in infrastructure.

” It is thanks to the efforts of millions of firms across the country that we are now the fastest growing major economy in the world.  And that 1000 new jobs have been created everyday in this parliament – three quarters of them full time jobs.

“I was fortunate to be Business Minister for 18 months. In that role I championed business and the concerns that the Chambers of Commerce and others raised – cutting red tape, improving the supply of credit to small firms by backing challenger banks and new providers such as peer-to-peer lenders, and simplifying business support.

“On local growth, I worked with local authorities and LEPs to agree Growth Deals and give them greater powers and freedom to help improve infrastructure and support business in their areas.

“In the Budget the Chancellor outlined further measures to promote growth including an ambition for ultrafast broadband to be available to nearly all premises, a comprehensive review of business rates, and scrapping the annual tax return.

“But there is always more to do to help firms grow – whether it is to start exporting, to harness the potential of technology to move into new markets or innovate, or to increase access to finance.

“So I am delighted that West Kent B2B is leading the way in identifying barriers to growth and practical steps to help boost the local economy.  And I note that your agenda covers the big themes of tax, finance, technology that can help drive your businesses forward.”