Annual Report 2015-16

Standing up for Sevenoaks and Swanley

oaks chamber of commerceLast May, I was honoured to be elected for the fifth time as your Member of Parliament.

Since the election, I have continued to work hard on behalf of all of my constituents.  I hold two advice surgeries each month, as I have done consistently since 1997, and I regularly raise issues and concerns on your behalf.  My Westminster office also deals with hundreds of emails and enquiries every week.  I work closely with our county, district, town and parish councillors, as well as other organisations such as Kent Police, the Citizens Advice Bureau and West Kent Housing.

I remain closely involved in campaigns across Sevenoaks and Swanley.  From fighting to save Hextable Dance Studio to defending Sevenoaks Hospital, I am proud to support my constituents and fight for our communities.

Supporting our local schools

Meeting pupils at Churchill Primary School in Westerham.
Meeting pupils at Churchill Primary School in Westerham.

I am a strong supporter of schools across my constituency.  Since the election I have visited schools in Westerham, Sundridge, Swanley, Sevenoaks, and elsewhere to speak to pupils and answer their questions about my work as MP.

Winning our campaign to secure grammar school provision last October was probably my best ever day as your MP.  This decision was long in coming but the priority now is to get this annexe built and open for local parents and pupils.  My next goal is to secure grammar provision for boys and I am working on this.

Getting a better deal for commuters

Inspecting the work in progress at London Bridge Station
Inspecting the work at London Bridge Station.

Our ageing railways cause a huge amount of frustration for commuters and passen

gers.  Disruption may be the price of the vital work at London Bridge – but passengers need to know why they are delayed and what is being done about it.  I was concerned to learn on a recent train cab ride that drivers are often unable to inform passengers about ongoing disruption and slow running while their train is in operation.  Making sure drivers and passengers have rapid, clear and sufficent information is essential.  I will continue to raise these issues with Southeastern to make rail travel easier for my constituents.

Bringing Oyster to Sevenoaks was another promise I made at the general election.  Rail passengers have waited long enough and I will be meeting the Rail Minister again shortly to push for a definite date.

Fighting for our NHS services

Michael with representatives from the hospital and Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust.
Michael with representatives from the hospital and Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust.

I am committed to our local NHS.  We need to see more services in Sevenoaks, not fewer.  That’s why I have continued to defend Sevenoaks Hospital against the threat of closure.  The withdrawal of some clinics was concerning but I have secured assurances that these vital services will continue to be available for local people.

Protecting GP services is also important.  There is a review of GP provision underway and I will ensure the views of local people are fully represented.  The NHS is so much more than the big district hospitals like Pembury and Darent Valley; it works best where it is local and loved.

Boosting our local economy

Michael Fallon Darent Wax tour
Michael visiting the Darent Wax Company.

In Sevenoaks and Swanley, our local economy is strong.  Compared with 2010, there are 600 fewer people out of work, including 200 fewer young unemployed, and we have 600 more businesses.  I see evidence of this progress on each of my regular constituency days.  Since the election, I have visited businesses, shops and local sites throughout the constituency and I have more visits already planned for the next few months.

But there is still more to do to support our local economy.  Broadband is a key issue that businesses and the Chamber of Commerce continue to raise with me.  I have recently begun a fresh campaign to demand further action from BT.  We need to make sure our local businesses and those who work from home have the broadband they need to thrive, wherever they are based.

 

Michael Reassured by Visit to Sevenoaks Hospital

Michael with representatives from the hospital and Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust.
Michael with representatives from the hospital and Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust.

Michael has announced that he is ‘reassured’ after a recent visit to Sevenoaks Hospital.

His visit came following recent changes to the outpatient services offered by Sevenoaks Hospital.

Following significant local concern, Michael secured assurances from West Kent CCG and Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the hospital, that Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust would take over the clinics previously offered by King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.

Michael was met at the hospital by David Griffiths, Chairman of Kent Community Health, Paul Bentley, Chief Executive, matron Rachel Nicholls and other representatives.  They showed him the hospital’s wards and the Minor Injuries Unit, before accompanying him to Darent House, the former site of the Knole Centre.  Mr Griffiths and Mr Bentley then briefed Michael on the latest developments at the hospital.

Michael meeting patients at Sevenoaks Hospital.
Michael meeting patients at Sevenoaks Hospital.

Michael said: “There has been some concern in Sevenoaks about the future of our hospital.  Having visited, I am reassured that it will retain its vital role in our local NHS, taking pressure off acute hospitals like Pembury and Darent Valley.  We need more local NHS care, not less, and I will continue to press for even more services to deliver the healthcare we need at Sevenoaks Hospital.”

Michael Declares Innovative New Housing Development Open

 

2016_05_13 - Michael Fallon and Steve Nunn at The Vales
Michael in front of The Vales with Steve Nunn, Executive Director, New Business & Development, at Moat Homes.

On Friday,  Michael opened The Vales, a new affordable housing development near Bat & Ball Station in Sevenoaks.

The development is owned by Moat Homes, which has worked in collaboration with SDC to build 11 new properties.  The properties are a mixture of shared ownership and affordable rent homes.

Michael spoke to the assembled guests, which included representatives from SDC and Moat and several of the new residents.  He congratulated Moat on the development, which is built on the site of the former ambulance station, before joining guests for a tour of the new properties.

2016_05_13 - Moat at The Vales, Sevenoaks
The Vales

Michael said: “I was delighted to open The Vales.  We need more housing in Sevenoaks but we also want to protect our environment and the Green Belt.  This innovative scheme is an example of how collaboration between councils and developers is reinforcing the bottom rung of the housing ladder, helping young families to work towards owning their own home.”

Michael Spends a Sunny Friday in Sevenoaks and Swanley

Michael with the Mayor of Sevenoaks and representatives from Prime Place.
Michael with the Mayor of Sevenoaks and representatives from Prime Place.

Last Friday, Michael spent a busy day in Sevenoaks and Swanley.  He visited Amherst School in the morning, answering pupils’ questions in a special assembly, before meeting local councillors in Swanley.

In the afternoon, he joined residents and staff of Gloucester House Nursing Home in Sevenoaks to celebrate its 25th anniversary celebrations.

Michael speaking to pupils at Amherst School.
Michael speaking to pupils at Amherst School.

Speaking about the visit, Michael said: “I was very pleased to help the staff and residents of Gloucester House to celebrate this anniversary.  Speaking to the residents, it was clear that they have happy, fulfilled lives at the home thanks to its hardworking staff.  That local, tailored approach is vital and we need to replicate it as much as possible.”

After speaking to residents, he travelled to Prime Place in the heart of Sevenoaks, where he joined the Mayor of Sevenoaks, Cllr Stephen Arnold, to open the new sales and marketing suite.  Commenting on the opening, Michael said: “I first visited Prime Place, Sevenoaks last year, when it was little more than a building site. It’s a pleasure to see how much progress has been made and I look forward to seeing the completed development next year.”

Michael Opens Sevenoaks Business Show

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Michael with representatives from the Sevenoaks Chamber of Commerce.

On Friday, Michael opened the fifth annual Sevenoaks Business Show at the Stag Plaza.

In his speech, Michael spoke about the 600 new businesses that have been established in Sevenoaks since 2010 and the constituency’s historic low level of unemployment, which has fallen by sixty percent since 2010.  He also referred to the Government’s support for the ‘South East Accelerator’ with lower business rates and corporation tax.

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Michael speaking to attendees at the show.

Michael concluded by saying: “This is the fifth annual show and each year there is more and more evidence of the incredible success of our local enterprises.  I am always proud to be Patron of the Sevenoaks Town Partnership – but I am never more proud than when I open this annual Business Show.”

Following his speech, Michael spent time speaking to each of the 32 businesses with a stall at the show and meeting a number of local apprentices.

Michael Fights for Sevenoaks Hospital

Michael has launched a defiant defence of Sevenoaks Hospital following the announcement that King’s College Hospital Trust is to withdraw its services.

He recently demanded assurances that the hospital will remain open from the local Clinical Commissioning Group and Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust, which operates the other services at the hospital.

In a response, Dr Bob Bowes, Clinical Chair of West Kent CCG, confirmed that all patients seen under existing arrangements will either continue to be seen at Sevenoaks, but by Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust staff, or will transfer their appointments to Princess Royal University Hospital.

Dr Bowes also confirmed that Sevenoaks Hospital is part of a wider review of local health services.  Michael is concerned about this process and will continue to watch developments closely.

Michael said: “I have always defended Sevenoaks Hospital against the threat of closure.  I am as determined as ever to protect the vital services it offers for local people.  I want to see more services in Sevenoaks, not less.”

Michael is currently awaiting a response from Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust and has requested a meeting with the Chief Executive.

Michael Spends A Busy Friday in Sevenoaks and Swanley

Visiting the Swanley Therapy Centre.
Michael visiting the Swanley Therapy Centre.

Michael was in Sevenoaks and Swanley on Friday 11th March for his latest busy constituency day.

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Michael with Steve Collins, Southeastern Driver Manager.

He travelled in the cab of a Southeastern train to learn more about the impact of the ongoing work at London Bridge on the services used by his constituents every day.

Following this, he spoke to pupils at Combe Bank School in Sundridge, answering questions on issues such as defence and the EU referendum.

In Swanley, he accompanied local councillor Victor Southern to the Swanley Therapy Centre, which relies on charitable donations to offer oxygen treatment to local patients.  He also visited Lockdecoders, a vibrant local business run by Victor’s son Peter.

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Michael being shown the latest products at Lockdecoders.

Returning to Sevenoaks, he received a tour of the latest progress at Knole House, where significant restoration work is transforming the medieval site.

Michael ended the day with his monthly advice surgery in Sevenoaks.

Renewed Oyster Progress

London Bridge Station
London Bridge Station

Michael has announced that he has made further progress towards his manifesto commitment to bring Oyster to Sevenoaks.

Following a new commitment by Transport for London (TfL) to make a contribution towards the extension of the network, Mr Fallon will be seeking a joint meeting with TfL and the Rail Minister, Claire Perry MP, to push for action.

Michael said: “I welcome TfL’s strong support for the extension of Oyster to Sevenoaks.  I am clear that Oyster is convenient and proven to work well.  I made a commitment to the people of Sevenoaks to bring Oyster to our town and I intend to deliver it.  I look forward to meeting with TfL and Claire Perry to make further progress.”

Evidence of strong local support is always important, so please click ‘Leave a comment’ to the left of this post if you believe Oyster should be extended to Sevenoaks.

Michael Visits Local Personalities

MF with Pat
Michael with Pat Moore and his Legion d’Honneur.

Last Friday, Michael was delighted to meet Pat Moore, a veteran of the Second World War D-Day campaign, at Pat’s home in Sevenoaks.

Pat has recently received the Legion d’Honneur from the French government in recognition of his service.  Michael personally intervened after Pat experienced delays in receiving the award.

Pat said: “I met Michael and showed him my award. We talked about my time in the war and his own family’s military history as his Grandfather was a Royal Engineer. The award is a great honour and I’m looking forward to receiving it formally in March at Graye-Sur-Mer, Normandy.”

Michael also visited the Sevenoaks studio of scribe and illuminator Patricia Lovett MBE.  He learned about the differences between materials such as vellum and parchment and listened closely to Patricia’s concerns about current plans to use paper instead of vellum
for printing Acts of Parliament.

Patricia Lovett
Patricia in her studio.

Patricia said: “I was delighted to welcome Michael to my studio.  Michael has been really helpful and most supportive of the Heritage Crafts Association’s campaign about continuing to print Acts of Parliament on vellum and we really appreciate his interest and considerable influence on this.”

Commenting on his visits, Michael said: “I was very pleased to meet Pat again and congratulate him on his award.  He is a war hero and this award from the French is a well-deserved recognition of his participation in the D-Day campaign in particular.  I am sure he will make the most of the formal presentation later this year.

MF with vellum
Michael with some of Patricia’s most recent work.

I was also pleased to be able to visit Patricia’s studio.  Vellum is an important part of our national history and Patricia’s incredible knowledge and skill suggests that it will continue to be so for many years to come.  I will be urging my parliamentary colleagues to continue the use of vellum.”

Time to Build Our Grammar School Annexe

Following the news that national campaign group Comprehensive Future will not be challenging the Government’s decision to approve a grammar school annexe in Sevenoaks, Michael said:

“It would have been outrageous for politically motivated national campaigners to attempt to block the expansion of a successful school that is strongly backed by the people of Sevenoaks and Kent County Council.

I welcome the news that the annexe can now start to be built, meaning that local parents will at last have the same choice of schools as elsewhere in Kent.

We need more good school places in Kent in academies, grammars, and free schools.  Any successful school should be allowed to expand, so it is wrong to discriminate against grammar schools.”