COLUMN – Grammars Aren’t Gone

One of my first duties as the newly re-elected MP, having sworn in on the day of the State Opening of Parliament, was to discuss the contents of the Queen’s Speech on BBC South East.

There are many great initiatives in the Queen’s Speech that will benefit our area, including extra investment in our transport, bills that champion equality, and a plan to protect our agricultural industry.

However, as many will have noted, there is one conspicuous exclusion: our election plan to scrap the current ban on building new grammar schools.

Michael with KCC Project Manager Esther Larner, Weald of Kent Chair of Governors David Bower, Weald of Kent Headteacher Maureen Johnson, and Willmott Dixon Build Manager Alex Heath in 2016.
Michael with KCC Project Manager Esther Larner, Weald of Kent Chair of Governors David Bower, Weald of Kent Headteacher Maureen Johnson, and Willmott Dixon Build Manager Alex Heath in 2016.

Having campaigned for so long for more grammar provision in Sevenoaks, I am disappointed that the current grammar school legislation will continue at least for the next two years.  The constitution dictates that we must play the cards the electorate has dealt to us.  So, with a minority Government, it is important that we put forward the best deal for Britain.  That means amending slightly our manifesto commitments in the national interest to ensure they can be delivered in Parliament.

But rest assured, I remain committed to securing grammar provision here in Sevenoaks for boys, and we can do that without changing the law, by adding a boys’ annexe to the girls’ one at Wildernesse.

There is strong local demand for a boys’ grammar.  Sevenoaks is the only area in Kent without a grammar school, and there is substantial pressure on local school places.  Parents need more choice, and to travel back and forwards to Tonbridge and Tunbridge Wells wastes time and money.

Later this year, I will be welcoming a young constituent and his class from Tunbridge Wells Grammar School for Boys to Parliament.  I will be delighted to welcome the new class of girls from our Sevenoaks grammar annexe, too, after they start in September.

Michael meets youngest voter

Michael recently met the youngest voter in the Sevenoaks constituency, Ciara Mcgauley, who turns 18 years old on Thursday 8th June.

Michael said: ‘I am delighted that Ciara will take time out from her birthday celebrations to vote on 8th June.  Voting is an important part of our democracy, and a chance to have a say over the future of this country.  It is heartening to see that voters as young as Ciara recognise this.’

Michael Officially Opens The New Beacon Centre

Michael officially opened a new multi-purpose educational centre at The New Beacon preparatory school for boys on 26th May 2017.

He was invited to speak at the event by Headmaster Mike Piercy and was greeted by all the schoolboys and their parents outside the new Centre. Michael asked one of the boys from Reception to join him in cutting the ribbon and officially opening the new building.

Michael was then given a tour of the Centre, where the Headmaster revealed the results of an election poll he had taken with the schoolboys that put Michael and the Conservatives in the lead. This was followed by an hour-long Q&A session with the senior boys inside. Among many questions, the boys asked about Michael’s motivations to become an MP and his views on defence.

Michael said: ‘This is about you, the schoolboys, and the future generations. I’ve always supported this high-achieving prep-school and believe this new Centre will itself become a new beacon for other schools in our area to use.’

Michael Officially Opens Andrews Court

Michael recently officially opened Andrews Court, a new development of affordable rented apartments for the over 55s in Swanley.  New residents joined Moat representatives, local councillors and officers from Sevenoaks District Council for the celebrations.
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Michael addresses the staff and residents.
Delivered by Moat in partnership with Sevenoaks District Council, the Homes and Communities Agency and developer Jenner, Andrews Court is a redevelopment of the old St Andrews Court. The scheme includes larger dwellings, which allow easier access for people who may have wheelchairs or walking frames,  incorporating aspects of Dementia-friendly design – such as different coloured doors and carpets on each floor.
Michael said: ‘What’s important here is partnership; with Sevenoaks District Council and the Government.  These things don’t just happen.  They happen when there is genuine partnership involved.  This redevelopment is vital for the community because it is affordable and designed to ensure residents have the dignity of independence.
The residents here want to be looked after later in life, but they also want to be able to look after themselves.  For all these reasons, I’m delighted to be here to open Andrews Court.  I look forward to more of these developments coming forward here in Sevenoaks.’

Michael becomes official Conservative candidate for Sevenoaks

Michael has handed in his nomination form to become the official prospective parliamentary Conservative candidate for Sevenoaks.

At the event, Michael said: ‘This is the most important election for years. Over the next four weeks, I will be campaigning for live casinos Canada every vote in Sevenoaks, Swanley, Westerham and every village.’

The forms were handed to the Returning Officer, Dr Pav Ramewal, as soon as the nomination form collections opened.

Michael Welcomes New Local Unemployment Figures

Sir Michael Fallon MP has welcomed new figures showing that unemployment in Sevenoaks remains at an historic low.

The figures, released by the Office National Statistics and Nomis database, show that unemployment in Sevenoaks has decreased by 63 per cent since 2010 and 11 per cent since May 2015.  Sevenoaks has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country.

Michael said: ‘These figures reflect a very robust local economy as we enter the Brexit negotiations.  A country that works for everyone enables people the security of employment and the ability to provide for their family.  I will continue to keep a close eye on our unemployment rates.’

Michael Helps to Open Trinity’s New Building

Opening Ceremony (89) - editMichael joined school governors, local supporters and representatives from churches across Sevenoaks as he helped to open Trinity School’s new building last Friday.

After giving a reading in a service led by the Bishop of Rochester, he participated in a balloon release and helped to plant an olive tree in the school’s grounds.

Michael said: “I was very pleased to help to open Trinity School’s new building.  This event was the culmination of many years of effort from local parents and volunteers and this excellent new building is the result of their work.  School choice is expanding in Sevenoaks and I look forward to seeing Trinity going from strength to strength in the years to come.”

Christmas and New Year Message

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Michael speaking at the Sevenoaks Chamber of Commerce Summer Reception.

In a sometimes unsettled year nationally, Sevenoaks, Swanley, Westerham and our villages have continued to go from strength to strength.  Unemployment remains at record low levels.  Our new grammar annexe is being constructed and will open next year.  Our local economy is vibrant and prosperous.

Building on this progress will require more work in the New Year.  Bringing fast broadband to all parts of the constituency is still a top priority.  We must also continue to work hard to protect our much-loved Green Belt from inappropriate development.  Most importantly, though, the spring will see consultation on the new rail franchise and I will use this opportunity to push for the extension of the Oyster network to Sevenoaks.

At the end of a successful year for Sevenoaks and Swanley, I would like to wish all of my constituents a very happy Christmas and New Year.  I am always proud to represent this constituency and I look forward to being as active as ever throughout the area in 2017.

Sir Michael Fallon MP

Supporting Local Businesses at Christmas

Sir Michael Fallon Graces Fashion AccessoriesMichael showed his support for local businesses earlier this month with a visit to Sevenoaks town centre.

Sir Michael Fallon Sevenoaks ComputersHe met business owners on from high street shops and small businesses such as The Chinaman, Sevenoaks Bookshop, Barkers and Grace to talk about the busy lead up to Christmas and their efforts to attract customers.  He was joined by Sevenoaks District Council Leader, Cllr Peter Fleming and Cabinet Member for Economic Development, Cllr Roddy Hogarth.

Michael said: “I was pleased to visit these thriving local businesses at such a busy time of the year. They really are the lifeblood of Sevenoaks’ economy and this was an excellent opportunity to hear about their latest progress.”