Sevenoaks MP Sir Michael Fallon has described the Transport Secretary’s response to his concerns over plans to turn the whole of the M26 into a lorry park in the event of a no deal Brexit as “completely unsatisfactory” and “not reassuring”.
Sir Michael met recently both Chris Grayling and the Roads Minister Jesse Norman with the leaders of Sevenoaks District Council and Kent County Council to press for alternative options. The Department for Transport has apologised for not consulting the local community before closing the M26 overnight.
Sir Michael said: “This response is unsatisfactory and does not provide the reassurances the local community needs. A lorry park, if it is required, should be in the east of Kent, closer to the ports. I continue to urge the Transport Secretary to reconsider.”
I welcome the Chancellor’s plans. The additional resources given to UK Export Finance and the significant expenditure on research and development will be vital if we are to grow our national capability.
Three key areas, however, require more attention.
First, we must speed up the development of critical infrastructure. Bureaucracy too often delays important projects: our airports, ports and river crossings must be built more quickly if we are to make a success of Brexit.
Second, the Government must look again at its funding for schools and skills. The increase in pupil numbers, and huge increase in pupils with additional needs, education authorities such as Kent County Council have to divert resources away from the main schools funding block to deal with the demand.
Finally, the current savings ratio, at 4.9% of disposable income, is the lowest since records began. One painless way of boosting savings is to simplify and encourage share schemes: create a more streamlined approach; open them up to companies owned by private equity; reduce holding periods and improve the tax treatment of shares. We know increasing employee’s involvement in company’s boosts productivity – it’s time we make the schemes simpler and more engaging.
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.”
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.
Michael has welcomed the extra funding for Kent announced today by the Communities Secretary Sajid Javid.
The announcement comes after Michael and other Kent MPs pressed the Communities Secretary to release additional funding in the forthcoming Local Government Finance Settlement and follows his visit to Sevenoaks yesterday morning.
In recognition of the growing need for Social Care, the Government is providing an extra £166 million Social Care Grant to Local Authorities across England for 2018/19. Kent will get an additional £3.9 million next year.
Additionally, Kent County Council will benefit from being one of just 12 authorities piloting the retention of Business Rates, which is expected to generate around £25 million next year.
The Sevenoaks MP has also applied pressure on the Home Office to step up its support. In a letter sent last week, Sir Michael said: “Kent continues to support more young asylum seekers than any authority in the country.
This is a national cost being covered by Kent residents. Current grant funding from the Home Office is not adequate.”
Michael has pressed the Home Secretary Amber Rudd for an additional £8.6 million.
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.”