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.

 

Election Hustings at Sevenoaks School

It was a full house in the Pamoja Hall, Sevenoaks School last night when all the parliamentary candidates attended for a General Election question time.  Thanks to all who organised the event – the questions were excellent!

According to the exit poll, there was a resounding victory following the debate: out of 280 votes, the Conservatives came first with 125 (44.6%), leaving second-placed Labour trailing on a mere 17.9%.

 

Knockholt and New Ash Green Campaign Meetings

knockholt2
Knockholt Village Hall Campaign Meeting 9th April

Michael has been holding meetings with local Conservative District Council candidates recently and more are to come over the next few days and weeks.

Last week over 40 residents from Knockholt met Cllrs Gary Williamson and John Grint from the Halstead, Knockholt and Badgers Mount Ward.

Last night there were 80 in the audience in New Ash Green Village Hall to meet Claire Pearsall and Cllrs Cameron Clark and Alan Pett standing for Ash and New Ash Green.

New Ash Green Village Hall 14th April 20115Questions have covered zero hours contracts, defence, the size of the army, fracking,  immigration, Right to Buy, the economy and the deficit, foreign affairs and the Middle East, Trident, taxation and local issues such as the Fort Halstead planning application, New Ash Green village regeneration and speeding traffic on country roads.

First Off The Mark For A Vigorous Campaign

Michael with Christian Everett and Dr Pav Ramewal - Handing  in his General Election 2015 Nomination Papers
Michael with Christian Everett and Dr Pav Ramewal – Handing in his General Election 2015 Nomination Papers on 1st April 2015

Michael was the first Sevenoaks parliamentary candidate to hand in his nomination papers at 10am today.

Michael said:
“We’re planning a very vigorous campaign. As well as street canvassing, I will be holding at least eight open public meetings in villages across the constituency. There will also be several all-candidate debates, organised by the churches and local schools, including the Chronicle hustings on Monday 4th May.

“The election issues here will be local as well as national: how we can secure the recovery to provide more jobs here for our young people, to give rail commuters a better deal, and to continue to protect the Green Belt. I will also be supporting our Conservative council candidates: they can be very proud of their record in running good value, efficient services throughout Sevenoaks District.”

I am holding meetings in the following villages over the next few days:

Wednesday 15th April – New Ash Green Village Hall 7.30 pm
Thursday 16th April – Otford Memorial Hall 7.30 pm
Friday 17th April – All-Candidate Hustings organised by Swanley Churches – St Peter’s Church, Hextable 7.00 pm

Note: notwithstanding the dissolution of Parliament Michael continues as Secretary of State for Defence, with ministerial responsibility for the armed forces, in particular for current operations against ISIL, in Afghanistan, and in Sierra Leone. He will carry out his duties at the Ministry of Defence alongside his local and national campaigning, and attend the MoD in London when required.