Sevenoaks MP Sir Michael Fallon has today expressed his serious concerns about the Government’s plans to turn the M26 into a lorry park in the event of a no deal Brexit.
The move would close the motorway from 8pm to 5am every night between 15th and 19th October, and 19th November and 29th March 2019. Ministers failed to consult local councils and MPs.
Sir Michael said: “It is wholly unacceptable that residents were not consulted on these proposals, which will have severe pollution and noise consequences for my constituents’ evening travel and access for local businesses. Any lorry parking will cause significant disruption for those in Dunton Green, north Sevenoaks, Otford, Seal and Kemsing. I have urged the Transport Secretary to reconsider these plans and meet me at the earliest opportunity to find an alternative solution.”
Sevenoaks MP Sir Michael Fallon has today pledged his support for opponents of Roxhill Developments’ proposal to build a DPD distribution centre at Moorhouse tileworks.
The new distribution centre, which would become DPD’s largest, delivering an initial 25,000 parcels a day and resulting in 800 extra vehicle journeys a day, would cause an unacceptable increase to traffic on the A25, particularly through the historic villages of Westerham, Brasted and Sundridge.
Sir Michael said: “A similar scheme was rejected two years ago, and this proposal is no better. The significant increase in traffic would choke the A25 and bring unreasonable pressure on our historic villages. I have outlined my strong objections to Tandridge District Council and Kent County Council, and I have urged them to oppose this development.”
Sir Michael Fallon has today urged again the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government to lower the “wholly unrealistic” housing target of building 13,400 new homes by 2035.
The request follows research by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), which suggested that the Government’s previous house building projection of 210,000 new homes had been downgraded to 159,000.
Sir Michael said: “I have already urged the Housing Secretary to revisit the wholly unrealistic target due to Sevenoaks’s overwhelming amount of Green Belt and Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The newly revised ONS figures show he must not force us to build on the Green Belt when there’s no need to do so.”
Today in Parliament, I had the pleasure helping Breast Cancer Now prepare for #wearitpink on October 19th.
Since 2002, Breast Cancer Now has raised over £31 million to fund life-saving research, including here in Sevenoaks. 55,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer each year – and it is organisations such as BNC that drive forward research into detection, prevention and effective treatment.
Michael had a very busy constituency day on Friday 31st August. First, he met Jill Roberts, Chief Executive at West Kent Mind, to discuss progress and was delighted to learn that they had increased their funding on last year and were running at full capacity.
West Kent Mind are working on several new initiatives, including meeting local schools agencies to try to detect early signs of mental health in children and prevent it. West Kent Mind now also run counselling services for those who have suffered loss (not just bereavement), and have expanded their work into Ashford. For more information on the fantastic services West Kent Mind run, visit here: https://westkentmind.org.uk/
West Kent Housing Association
Swiftly after that, he visited White Oak Court in Swanley where the West Kent Housing Association (WKHA) and Sevenoaks District Council (SDC) have set up self-contained apartments as part of their ‘Starts at Home’ sheltered housing scheme.
Michael met residents and received a tour of the apartments along with local councillors. County Councils are increasingly asking planning authorities to factor extra care housing such as White Oak Court as alternatives for more expensive residential care homes.
Michael held his regular monthly surgery in Sevenoaks, helping constituents with a range of issues, before he addressed local Conservative Party members at the Sevenoaks Town Council offices about Brexit and the Prime Minister’s Chequers Deal.
Michael took questions for 90 minutes on the current state of Brexit negotiations, and local members were free to air their views in a lively discussion.
It is for Sevenoaks District Councillors to adopt the Local Plan and they are consulting on the details.
I want to make clear that I am not in favour of building new houses on our Green Belt. Indeed I have continued to object to the 14,000 total of new houses that the government proposes: it’s unachievable without breaching a significant amount of Green Belt land. I will continue to urge the Communities Secretary James Brokenshire, to reconsider.
I am aware that Sevenoaks Hockey Club and Sevenoaks Rugby Club (where I am a Vice-President) need more pitches, and I support both of them. But this should not be interpreted as support for any particular new housing proposal.
Sports Minister, Tracey Crouch MP, this week visited the Greatness Recreation Ground in Sevenoaks.
The trip’s purpose was to learn more about the the cooperation between Sevenoaks Football Club and Sevenoaks Town Council in funding the state-of-the-art facilities, including the new 3G pitch.
The Sports Minister met the Mayor of Sevenoaks, local councillors and staff from the Recreation Ground before watching a game of Power (wheelchair) Football.
Sir Michael Fallon said: “It was fantastic to welcome the Sports Minister here to Greatness Recreation Ground and see first-hand how our brilliant local initiatives are having a big impact on the community.”
Today, Michael visited the South East Coast Ambulance Service (SECAMB) in Paddock Wood, where he met senior management and reviewed their recent progress.
“I am glad that SECAMB is improving their response rate. It is vital that our area has quick responses, not just for emergency call-outs, but also for getting people to hospital quickly and safely. I will be following their performance closely.”
Yesterday, Sir Michael pledged his support for the 10 point action plan to help inspire future generations of engineers led by the Royal Academy of Engineering, in collaboration with EngineeringUK.
The plan, part of the This is Engineering campaign, is informed by students (aged between 13-16 years old), and has been developed in response to the significant skills shortage in engineering – the latest figures from EngineeringUK indicate an annual demand for 124,000 engineers and a shortfall of 59,000.
The action plan calls for more businesses to pledge to run “taster days”– a shorter version of work experience – to help students understand the varied role of engineering, and for the Government to tie “taster days” into the upcoming careers strategy.
Following new research conducted by YouGov that shows that kids aged 13-18 are most likely to turn to Google (52%) for career inspiration, ahead of their parents (41%) and teachers (37%) the plan calls for more careers information to be hosted online and a focused effort by Government and industry to provide better information on further education and the opportunities for technician roles.
The report also urges politicians, education providers and the wider business community to support and promote local careers fairs and for politicians and businesses to proactively champion GCSE Design and Technology courses in their local areas. According to 2017 figures, D&T has disappeared from nearly half of schools.
This Is Engineering is a new, multi-year campaign to give more young people from all backgrounds the opportunity to explore careers in engineering, and to raise awareness of the breadth of opportunities available in the profession. Launched in the government’s Year of Engineering, the campaign is being backed by a consortium of major engineering companies.
The Sevenoaks MP said: “Engineering is vital to every aspect of life and will only become more so as technologies continue to develop. I would encourage all schools in Sevenoaks to work in partnership with local businesses to promote career fairs and follow the guidelines in the This is the Future of Engineering plan on how to run a successful event.”