Speaking Up For Sevenoaks Rail Commuters

Sevenoaks MP Michael Fallon is due to meet the new Chief Executive of Southeastern Rail, David Statham, and Network Rail managers in the next week to discuss the closure of London Bridge Station, rail fares and the general standard of service offered to commuters.

Michael said:  Sevenoaks commuters deserve a better standard of service. I will be calling on Network Rail and Southeastern to work more closely together to ensure that disruption is kept to a minimum. I will also continue press for commuters to be allowed to use alternative stations to complete their journey at no additional cost for the duration of the disruption.

Rail fares increases have been at the maximum allowed each year. Commuters are already paying very large amounts – it’s time they had a break.”

Small Business Saturday – 6th December

Small Business SaturdaySmall Business Saturday is a day to celebrate our all our small businesses and encourage everyone to support them in the next few weeks and beyond.

Michael said:  “Small businesses are the lifeblood of our economy.  They have played an instrumental part in creating jobs here in Sevenoaks and Swanley and are vital to our continued economic prosperity.

“I am urging us all to think ‘small’ on Saturday, 6th December and in the future – to support all the small businesses in our local communities.”

Sevenoaks Christmas Lights

Michael with Town Mayor Cllr Simon Raikes
Michael with Town Mayor Cllr Simon Raikes
and with Compere Cllr Graham Clack
and with Compere Cllr Graham Clack

Many congratulations to Sevenoaks Town Partnership for a magnificent show of Christmas lights which were turned on by the Town Mayor, Cllr Simon Raikes this evening.

 

 

Best wishes to all the shops and businesses in the town for a very prosperous and rewarding time in the run-up to Christmas 2014.

Re-opening for Seal Butcher

Master Butcher Robert Martin with Barclays Business Manager Wendy Stevens and Michael
Master Butcher Robert Martin with Barclays Business Manager Wendy Stevens and Michael

HW Coldbreath Butchers is a historic firm which traces its origins to 1861.  The business, now run by Master Butcher Robert Martin, is being expanded with support from Barclays.  It closed recently for refurbishment for several weeks but it is now back in action with more space and better equipment.

Robert was trained by his late father, Chris, who had over 40 years’ experience in supplying premium quality meat and poultry having taken over the business in 1976.

Michael performed the re-opening ceremony, congratulated Robert and his team on the new look premises and wished them well for the future.

Coldbreath Butchers' Hog Roast
Coldbreath Butchers’ Hog Roast

The Martin family has a prize-winning herd of cattle based at Ightham which provides the business with its own home-grown beef.  Their commitment to quality means that they have expanded beyond their loyal local customer base and now supply the National Trust, local independent schools, restaurants and golf clubs.  They also have a popular catering service which specialises in hog roasts – one of which was being put on at the time of the re-opening.

Electrical Contractors’ Association

Darren Wetherill, Regional Chairman ECA South East Region and Managing Director of DW Electrical Limited Philip Hamblett, ECA Eastbourne Branch Chairman and Contracts Manager of N. Smith Electrical Limited Carolyn Mason, ECA Head of Education & Training, and Kevin Bush, ECA Regional Manager, South East region
L to R:   Darren Wetherill, Regional Chairman ECA South East Region and Managing Director of DW Electrical Limited, Michael Fallon MP, Kevin Bush, ECA Regional Manager, South East region, Carolyn Mason, ECA Head of Education & Training and Philip Hamblett, ECA Eastbourne Branch Chairman and Contracts Manager of N. Smith Electrical Limited

The ECA’s south-east regional office is based in Sevenoaks and Michael met ECA staff and representatives from member companies today to discuss their concerns over proposed changes to apprenticeship funding.

The ECA has some 2,800 members ranging from local electricians to national companies with several branches employing thousands of contractors.  Around 80% of the membership is made up of SMEs.

Potential solutions to help small businesses to continue to employ and train apprentices by reducing extra bureaucracy and red tape were covered.  Michael agreed to report back to Nick Boles MP, the Government’s Skills Minister with the very useful points that were raised at the meeting.

New Grammar School Provision for Sevenoaks

Press release from Kent County Council:

Work is ready to start in the next few months in Sevenoaks to build a new grammar school annexe, the first for 20 years.

weald of kentThe Weald of Kent Grammar School Academy Trust has now submitted its proposal, in line with the requirement identified by Kent County Council to develop the new annexe to the Secretary of State for Education, Nicky Morgan.

Planning consent has already been obtained to build the school on the old Wildernesse School site in Seal Hollow Road and contractors are ready to start work, subject to the Secretary of State’s sign-off.

Kent County Council understands that the submission by the all-girls Weald of Kent is compliant with the regulations set up by the coalition government to establish a new grammar school annexe for girls.

Leader of Kent County Council Paul Carter said: “I am delighted that we now have a robust proposal to put to the Secretary of State for her sign-off.  School rolls are rising dramatically and we must be allowed to expand grammar schools in line with all other categories and types of school.  This is good news for parents with daughters and we will continue to work in earnest to find a solution for their sons.

“I am also delighted by the support from Theresa May and Michael Fallon for the establishment of further grammar school provision in their constituencies.”

Mr Fallon said: “I am delighted to support this proposal from the Weald of Kent Grammar School for a satellite annexe in Sevenoaks.

“It remains deeply unfair to parents in my constituency that we are the only area in Kent not to have a grammar school. This proposal will not only go some way to eliminating this injustice, but also produce the additional places we need in west Kent.

“I hope the Secretary of State makes a speedy decision.”

David Bower, Chair of Governors at Weald of Kent Grammar School said:  “As the existing provider of education to 500 pupils from Sevenoaks we believe Weald of Kent is ideally placed to establish an annexe, offering an additional 90 places per year group.

news-secondary-admissions-2015“Recognised by Ofsted as ‘Outstanding’ we are confident in our ability to deliver the highest quality of education possible for the children in Sevenoaks and that we can extend our unique ethos to embrace students and staff across a split site operation to feel part of a single community.”

New Apprenticeships – more young people in Sevenoaks getting skills for the future

Visit to Network Power Training Centre, Sundridge
Visit to Network Power Training Centre, Sundridge

Michael has welcomed new figures showing 490 new apprenticeships were started by people in Sevenoaks last year. In total 1,910 new apprenticeships have been started in the Sevenoaks constituency since 2010.

Across England more than 1.9 million apprenticeships have been started since 2010 – with the number of apprenticeships having more than doubled in this parliament.

As the Prime Minister announced on Monday a future Conservative government would go even further: making a £1 billion commitment to deliver 3 million apprenticeships by 2020 and end youth unemployment.

Michael said:  “These figures are great news. 1,910 new apprenticeships since 2010 means more young people in Sevenoaks getting the skills for they’ll need for the future.”

“By making sure, as part of our long-term economic plan, we deliver the best schools and skills for young people the Conservatives are ensuring the next generation have the skills and opportunities they’ll need to get a good job – so they can have a brighter, more secure future ahead of them.”

Supporting Cancer Research

Behind the counter at Cancer Research UK, Sevenoaks
Behind the counter at Cancer Research UK, Sevenoaks

Michael is backing an appeal from Cancer Research UK to help bring forward the day when all cancers are cured.  He got stuck into work as a volunteer at the charity’s shop on the High Street in Sevenoaks recently to play his part and show how local people can get involved.

Every year, around 43,100 people are diagnosed with cancer in the South East and predictions show that the number of people with cancer in the UK is set to rise steeply by 2030.  Michael has joined forces with Cancer Research UK to help accelerate the progress the charity is making and highlight the power of research in beating the disease.

He said:  “I’m delighted to support my local Cancer Research UK shops and find out more about the hard work that goes on behind the scenes.   Research is cancer’s number one enemy and it is people like the dedicated volunteers I met in Sevenoaks, who are enabling the charity’s doctors and scientists to keep making huge advances in the battle against the disease.”

“While more of us will be diagnosed with cancer in the future, there is good news. Thanks to the generosity of its supporters, Cancer Research UK’s work is helping to ensure more men, women and children survive the disease.”

Volunteers and staff at Cancer Research UK, Sevenoaks
Volunteers and staff at Cancer Research UK, Sevenoaks

“So I’m calling on the local community to help Cancer Research UK to beat cancer sooner.  I want to encourage people to show their support in any way they can, whether it’s donating or buying from the charity’s shops, volunteering for a few hours a week, or signing up for a sporting challenge like Race for Life.

Cancer Research UK’s Area Manager, Elaine Hutchins said: “Every step we make towards beating cancer relies on every pound, every hour and every person, so we hope people in Sevenoaks will really get behind us.”

Employment in Swanley

Record levels of employment in Swanley were welcomed by Michael as he hosted his second Jobs Fair in the area.

Unemployment has fallen by 50% since the last General Election; 413 people were unemployed in Swanley at that time. Today that figure is 203.

Michael said:
“It is very encouraging news that more people in Swanley now have the security of a regular wage packet.  But there is more to do and 203 people still unemployed is still too high and that is why I was delighted to be able to host another Jobs Fair in Swanley this year.

“Thanks go to all the companies and organisations that provided sponsorship, support and participation.  I am also grateful to Swanley Town Council for its generous support.”

 

Voting for a EU Referendum

Michael has, today, voted for an EU Referendum. The bill passed its Second Reading in the House of Commons with 283 votes in favour to 0.

On supporting a referendum, Michael Fallon said:  “People in Sevenoaks feel the EU is heading in a direction we never signed up to – that it’s costing British taxpayers too much and we have lost control of our own affairs.

Today’s lack of participation by Labour and the Liberal Democrats shows that they will not deliver a referendum and UKIP simply cannot. Only a strong, stable Conservative majority government can deliver this chance for the British people to have their say and I will continue to push for the people of Sevenoaks to have their voice heard.”