Michael has welcomed Kent County Council’s decision to not cut vital bus services after he campaigned to save them.
Council leader Paul Carter committed to reconsidering the plans after more than 17,000 people signed a local petition against the plans.
Mr Carter said he was “passionate about not isolating people in rural communities” and although savings would now need to be made the emphasis would be on “conversation and not consultation.”
The Council said it had set aside a budget of £500,000 to speak to people, district and parish councils about bus services. Some little used buses could see changes to the way they were run but routes would not be cut at present. Councillors also pledged to continue a £8.7 million subsidy through the Young Persons Travel Pass.
The council’s funding shift comes after the Government agreed local councils could increase the amount they could raise in council tax without holding a referendum by one per cent. And it follows an announcement which gives Kent the right to retain business rates locally.
Michael said: “I welcome the county council’s commitment to looking at other options. This shows that when people get involved we can win and change minds.”
Michael has signed a joint letter by 16 MPs across Kent to support the bid from Canterbury Christ Church University and the University of Kent to establish a medical school in the Kent and Medway area.
As Christmas approaches, local health services are preparing for the challenges the winter period brings. Having discussed these challenges with many NHS and health organisations, Michael is aware that one of the main reasons local providers struggle is because they cannot recruit enough doctors.
Kent is one of the largest areas in the UK without a medical school. The letter therefore raises awareness of issues surrounding recruitment in the health sector. It also outlines the benefits a medical school would bring to the region, such as improving local people’s access to high quality healthcare.
The group of MPs add that a local medical school will attract newly qualified and senior doctors, thereby improving health outcomes for patients in Kent:
‘We face serious health inequalities across Kent & Medway, with life expectancy for males up to eight years lower in the most deprived areas […] we firmly believe that a medical school would be transformative for our local health services.’
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.
In his latest column for the Sevenoaks Chronicle, Michael has written about the need for improvements to rail services:
As the nights draw in, rail disruption on long, cold journeys home seems ever more frustrating. Problems like the ones we experienced in Sevenoaks last week seem to happen all too often.
I regularly receive complaints about Southeastern’s performance and I recently joined other Kent MPs to press the Rail Minister for improvements. I will be paying particularly close attention during the winter months.
Next year will see the start of a wider process to decide on the details of the new regional rail franchise from 2018. For anyone who wants to see better services in Sevenoaks, this is an important opportunity to have your say. There will be a consultation in the spring on what we want to see and I encourage everyone to participate.
My top priority will be the extension of the Oyster network to stations like Sevenoaks. I promised to fight for this vital improvement at the election last year and I will be lobbying hard. There are wider issues too, though, such as making sure there are enough trains and seats to cope with growing passenger numbers.
Securing all of these changes will only be possible if we push for them together. I know some people think that things will never change. I know they are tired of the old excuses for poor service and disruption. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t look for new solutions. We have to seize this opportunity to secure the meaningful improvements we need.
In the meantime, I would like to wish all of my constituents a very happy Christmas and New Year. In a politically eventful year, Sevenoaks and Swanley have continued to thrive and I am looking forward to continuing to serve as your MP in 2017.
Michael has welcomed the news that DPD has withdrawn its planning application to build a delivery depot on the old Moorhouse Tileworks site near Westerham. The decision comes after he worked with residents and their representatives in the area to lobby against the move.
Michael said: “This is fantastic news. It is the result of the hard work of local councillors and campaigners in Westerham. With Sam Gyimah, MP for East Surrey, I have been clear that the application failed to address concerns about traffic and air quality. I welcome the developer’s decision to withdraw its plan.”
Michael has called on the Government to announce its decision on a new Lower Thames Crossing.
In a letter to the Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling MP, Michael has pressed for urgent progress following the consultation conducted by Highways England earlier this year. With no announcement on the proposal in last week’s Autumn Statement and increasing pressure on the Dartford Crossing, Michael believes a decision is urgently required so that building can commence on the project as soon as possible.
Michael supports the easternmost route, option C, which was recommended by Highways England in its consultation. This route would be the best option for his constituents, relieving congestion in the Dartford area and providing economic benefits across the region. In his letter, Michael also emphasised the importance of properly connecting any new crossing into the wider road network.
Michael said: “The ongoing problems at Dartford are affecting the daily lives of my constituents so a new crossing is urgently needed. I am calling on the Government to turn its welcome support for the principle of a new crossing into concrete, comprehensive action so that we can resolve this issue as soon as possible.”
Michael has welcomed the news that over £1 billion of new funding will be made available for full-fibre broadband.
The decision, which came in the Autumn Statement, means that two million more homes and businesses across the country will be able to benefit from higher speeds and more reliable connections, particularly in rural areas.
With the percentage of premises in Sevenoaks that can access superfast broadband predicted by the Government to reach 92.8% by September 2018, the news is a major boost to Michael’s successful campaign to secure better broadband for his constituents.
Michael said: “People throughout Sevenoaks increasingly rely on decent broadband speeds for work and leisure. This new funding will build on the progress we have already made to make sure we have the digital infrastructure we need to prosper. Together with extra money for grammar schools and measures to help hardworking families, everyone in Sevenoaks will benefit from these announcements in this Autumn Statement.”
Michael has secured fresh assurances about the extension of the Oyster network to Sevenoaks.
In two recent letters, the Rail Minister and the Deputy Mayor of London have both confirmed their commitment to the principle of expansion when the new rail franchise begins in 2018.
In a letter, Rail Minister Paul Maynard wrote ‘We are still considering a further roll out of Oyster to stations such as Sevenoaks.’ The letter also acknowledged that incorporating Sevenoaks into the Oyster zone system could ‘provide both savings and increased convenience for your constituents’.
In a separate letter, Deputy Mayor of London Val Shawcross assured Michael that under Transport for London’s (TfL) proposals for taking over London metro rail services, his constituents would be able ‘to use Oyster and contactless bank payment cards for journeys from Sevenoaks to anywhere in the London zonal network’.
Michael said: “This is important progress. Whether under TfL’s proposals or the existing system, Sevenoaks’ passengers deserve the benefits that Oyster and contactless can bring. I will continue to push for further commitments to ensure that this vital improvement is delivered as soon as possible.”
Michael joined residents in Westerham on Friday to protest against the application for the redevelopment of Moorhouse Tileworks.
Accompanied by local councillors, campaigners and Sam Gyimah, MP for East Surrey, Michael listened to concerns and reaffirmed his opposition to the application to build a major distribution depot on the site.
Michael has already written to Tandridge District Council to oppose the plans, which would increase the number of vehicles, including vans and HGVs, and negatively affect air quality and pedestrian safety in the Westerham area.
Michael said: “Like the last application, this plan fails to address concerns about traffic and air quality. It would have a significant impact on the lives of my constituents in Westerham and I was proud to join local residents to make our opposition clear. I urge the council not to approve this development.”
Mr Fallon spent the remainder of his day in the constituency attending a fundraising event for West Kent Mind and meeting local councillors to discuss development plans and the latest progress on securing grammar school provision for boys in Sevenoaks.
Michael has demanded full, public information about the planned rollout of superfast broadband in Sevenoaks.
His call is the latest step in his campaign to secure better broadband for his constituents.
In recent meetings with BT and Kent County Council, which manages the Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) public subsidy contract, Michael has set out the importance of giving people the ability to see when the rollout is expected to reach their area.
Michael said: “Better information is the first step to securing better broadband. Too often there is uncertainty and confusion about when people can access superfast speeds. With full public information, BT can be held to account for what they promise.”