Sevenoaks Community First Responders Vehicle Launch

scfr launch 2

On Saturday, Michael was pleased to attend the launch of Sevenoaks Community First Responders’ new 4×4 medical emergency response vehicle.

Communtiy First Responders are volunteers who are trained by the ambulance service to respond to emergency calls through the 999 system.  Their new vehicle, supported by the Big Lottery Fund, has been named Ingrid after a member of the team who recently passed away.

scfr launch 3Michael met the responders and discussed their important work.  He was joined at the event by the mayor, the leader of Sevenoaks District Council and Tom Tugendhat, Member of Parliament for Tonbridge and Malling.

Michael said: “It is a great pleasure to be involved in the launch of Ingrid.  Sevenoaks Community First Responders is an excellent voluntary organisation that plays a vital role in saving lives in our local community: this new vehicle will enable them to offer a better service than ever.”

Success for Sevenoaks Constituency in New Business Figures

Michael welcomed new figures showing that 60 people have started their own business after being helped off benefits in his Sevenoaks constituency, with the support of the Government’s New Enterprise Allowance.

Since its introduction in April 2011, the allowance has helped 73,000 people on out of work benefits across the country to set up their own businesses.  Individuals are supported by a business mentor and receive 26 weeks of financial support.

Michael said: “It is excellent news that so many people in my constituency have not only left a life on benefits, but have also started to make such a positive contribution to our economic success.  This is the latest example of the Government supporting those who want to work.  I wish all those who have been helped by the New Enterprise Allowance every success.”

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.

 

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.

British Heart Foundation – Sevenoaks

Staff and voluteers at British Heart Foundation - Sevenoaks
Staff and volunteers at British Heart Foundation – Sevenoaks

Michael met staff and volunteers at the High Street shop today.  Here are a few of British Heart Foundation’s  interesting statistics for their base in Sevenoaks:

  • The shop is run by 3 paid staff and over 30 volunteers, one of whom originally started as a volunteer
  • Between 700 – 800 donation bags are brought in to the shop per week
  • Up to 2,000 van packs are posted out each week
  • Between 5 -10 collections are made each week
  • 3 – 10 Gift Aid donors are signed up each week providing £140 – £150 of extra funds for the shop
  • Average sales per week amount to £4,500
  • The shop made £97,000 profit last year and they have already raised £83,000 this year.

Around the south-east BHF – Sevenoaks has helped to fund

  • 108 healthcare professionals
  • 1,783 defibrillators
  • 24 diagnostic equipment awards
  • 1 Hearty Lives projects
  • 128 Heartstart schemes
  • 36 heart support groups

Sevenoaks Business Awards

sevenoaks business awardsThe Sevenoaks Business Awards, organised by Sevenoaks Town Partnership was held at Coolings Garden Centre on Friday 26th September.

Many congratulations to the winners and all those who took part.  It was great evening, generously supported by sponsors and nominees, illustrating how well the small and medium-sized businesses in Sevenoaks have been growing recently.

Sevenoaks Grammar School Campaign

The Department for Education has turned down the most recent bid for a new grammar school in Sevenoaks.

Commenting on this decision Michael said:

“This decision is bitterly disappointing and does nothing to address the pressing need for more grammar school places in Sevenoaks.  The ruling means that any new Sevenoaks annexe must be the same as the sponsor school.  Only a girl’s school would be allowed while Weald of Kent remains single-sex; a co-ed school would only be possible if Weald of Kent itself becomes co-ed by the time a new one opens.  We will have to rethink but our campaign goes on.”

Grammar School Response from Secretary of State for Education

The Secretary of State for Education, Rt Hon Michael Gove MP has responded to the letter from Michael Fallon MP which was urging speedy decision in relation to the provision of a grammar school in Sevenoaks.

Responding to Michael’s letter, Mr. Gove said:  “I understand the difficulty pupils and families face in securing a suitable school place, and the distance many have to travel. Primary legislation prohibits the introduction of new selective schools and we must judge the proposals carefully to test whether they represent new schools or expansions.

The Education Funding Agency (EFA) is assessing the proposals and will present its findings to ministers shortly. We will notify each school in writing as soon as a decision has been reached.  In reaching our decision, we will consider all the evidence that has been presented through the process and in correspondence with each academy trust.”

Commenting on his reply, Mr. Fallon said:  “I am continuing to pursue this at every opportunity.  There is no indication at the moment of when a decision will be announced, but I am urging all parties to a conclusion as soon as possible for the sake of our young students in Sevenoaks.”

Letter from Rt Hon Michael Fallon MP urgently seeking a swift decision for Sevenoaks

7th October 2013

Rt Hon Michael Gove MP
Secretary of State for Education

Dear Secretary of State

I write in relation to your pending decision regarding the proposals for a grammar school in my Sevenoaks constituency currently submitted, from the Valley Invicta Academy Trust and from the Weald of Kent Grammar Academy Trust.

Sevenoaks is the only major town in Kent without a grammar school. This is a long running grievance amongst the Sevenoaks parents and pupils. It means that, despite living in a county that has grammar schools, Sevenoaks children not only find it harder to secure a place but, if they do, often have to travel considerable distances to take it up. Kent County Council’s figures from 2009 show that 91 out of 253 pupils who passed the 11+ in the Sevenoaks areas did not get any of their four preferences on National Offer Day. These children will have been given an alternative offer but typically one many miles away from their homes. Whilst many children do get their first choices on appeal, this is only often after many stressful months of challenges to the system.

Recent figures from Kent County Council show that 1,151 students who live in south Sevenoaks, travel to selective schools in Tonbridge, Tunbridge Wells or further afield, as there is no selective provision in Sevenoaks. Moreover, as the number of Year 7 pupils increase in these schools, the application of the distance criteria through the admissions process will result in selective provision becoming increasingly less accessible for Sevenoaks south students.

Non-selective schools are, thanks to your funding, able to expand to meet increased demand. It cannot be fair that those choosing selective schools are discriminated against because the system cannot similarly accommodate them.

It is clear to me that the long-term solution is to provide more grammar school places locally to meet this demand. As nearby grammar schools are already full, the obvious solution is to provide new places in Sevenoaks itself.

I urge you to make a speedy decision.