Christmas and New Year Message

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Michael speaking at the Sevenoaks Chamber of Commerce Summer Reception.

In a sometimes unsettled year nationally, Sevenoaks, Swanley, Westerham and our villages have continued to go from strength to strength.  Unemployment remains at record low levels.  Our new grammar annexe is being constructed and will open next year.  Our local economy is vibrant and prosperous.

Building on this progress will require more work in the New Year.  Bringing fast broadband to all parts of the constituency is still a top priority.  We must also continue to work hard to protect our much-loved Green Belt from inappropriate development.  Most importantly, though, the spring will see consultation on the new rail franchise and I will use this opportunity to push for the extension of the Oyster network to Sevenoaks.

At the end of a successful year for Sevenoaks and Swanley, I would like to wish all of my constituents a very happy Christmas and New Year.  I am always proud to represent this constituency and I look forward to being as active as ever throughout the area in 2017.

Sir Michael Fallon MP

Supporting Local Businesses at Christmas

Sir Michael Fallon Graces Fashion AccessoriesMichael showed his support for local businesses earlier this month with a visit to Sevenoaks town centre.

Sir Michael Fallon Sevenoaks ComputersHe met business owners on from high street shops and small businesses such as The Chinaman, Sevenoaks Bookshop, Barkers and Grace to talk about the busy lead up to Christmas and their efforts to attract customers.  He was joined by Sevenoaks District Council Leader, Cllr Peter Fleming and Cabinet Member for Economic Development, Cllr Roddy Hogarth.

Michael said: “I was pleased to visit these thriving local businesses at such a busy time of the year. They really are the lifeblood of Sevenoaks’ economy and this was an excellent opportunity to hear about their latest progress.”

New Money for Broadband Welcomed By Michael

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 Hails ‘Success Story’ of New Pre-School Site

Michael with Cllr Andrew Eyre, Mayor of Sevenoaks, at the opening.
Michael with Cllr Andrew Eyre, Mayor of Sevenoaks, at the opening.

Michael today hailed a local ‘success story’ as he joined local parents and children to open the Children’s Workshop’s new building in Sevenoaks.

The pre-school was formerly located at Sevenoaks Rugby Club but decided to move to new and improved premises last year.  Michael assisted the school as it sought to secure planning permission for its new timber-clad building on the edge of Lady Boswell’s School.  Permission was granted in October 2015 after special consideration was granted.

Michael spoke about the importance of pre-school education for working families in Sevenoaks before the building was formally opened by Mr Bloom from CBeebies with the firing of a confetti cannon.

Michael said: “I have been proud to support the Children’s Workshop’s move and I was delighted to attend today.  The new building is a success story, demonstrating what can be achieved when local communities come together.  It will provide a vital service that benefits both parents and children for many years to come.”

Michael Welcomes Grammar School Plans

Michael has welcomed the Government’s plan to allow the opening of new grammar schools.

Michael said: “I warmly welcome these new proposals.  By making it easier to expand existing grammar schools and set up new ones, they will widen choice for parents and pupils in Sevenoaks.

We have already secured a girls’ grammar annexe.  A boys’ grammar is the next essential step, and these plans mean we can avoid the lengthy legal wrangling that held up the girls’ annexe.”

Michael Speaks at the Sevenoaks Business Awards

29007780324_23fb087b91_oOn Friday, Michael addressed the annual Sevenoaks Business Awards.  As Patron of the Sevenoaks Town Partnership, which organised the evening, Michael spoke about the achievements of local businesses and the support offered by the Government:

29523238152_1b02dca396_oThank you.

I was speaking in Paris earlier this week when, about halfway through, the lights went out.

I was assured that it was completely unintentional, but perhaps I was on thin ice after referring to our position on the Olympic medal table…

I certainly hope it won’t happen tonight.

It is an honour to be here once again as Patron of Sevenoaks Town Partnership.

I am delighted to see that there have been so many nominations for the awards this evening.

And I am proud to be able to support the Town Partnership.

Every year, its remarkable programme of events and support somehow expands.

From the Vintage Bus promoting tourism, to the monthly Farmers Market making the most of our local produce, the Partnership’s efforts have helped to make Sevenoaks more bustling and attractive than ever before.

But its excellent work builds on an already excellent foundation of local businesses.

In April, I had the pleasure of opening the fifth annual Business Show.

With over thirty businesses attending, it was a clear demonstration of the strength of our vibrant local economy.

I am very pleased to see that in evidence here again tonight.

And it’s vital – Sevenoaks is not only a commuter town.

It is full of thriving, innovative businesses providing local employment – like yours.

Many of you are part of the 99 percent of businesses in Britain that are small- or medium-sized.

But I also recently welcomed a much larger company, FM Conway, to our town.

They may be a very different business to many of yours, but their decision to relocate here shows how successful our local economy has become.

The number of people without a job here has fallen to its lowest ever recorded level.

And we now have the highest number of businesses on record, 600 more than there were six years ago.

That’s the equivalent of a new business being set up every three days.

As your MP I am proud to be supporting measures to maintain this impressive record.

From April, we are cutting business rates.

600,000 businesses occupying a third of all properties will pay no rates at all.

We want to see three million apprenticeships across the country by 2020.

So many local businesses are helping to create these vital opportunities and I am pleased to see that there is strong competition for the apprentice award tonight – clear evidence of the young talent that is coming through our local workforce.

Corporation tax will also continue to fall, giving you more money to invest in your businesses.

There are challenges ahead.

I know some of you may be concerned.

I won’t pretend that the next few years will be easy.

But Sevenoaks is well prepared.

And with new measures to support the economy, the ingenuity of our businesses, and the ceaseless support of the Town Partnership, I am sure our local economy will continue to thrive.

I would like to congratulate tonight’s nominees and winners on their much-deserved achievements and wish you all the very best of luck for the coming year.

Thank you.

Michael Opens New FM Conway Office

Michael with chief executive officer Michael Conway.
Michael with chief executive officer Michael Conway.

Michael recently opened the new head office of major construction firm FM Conway.

Michael delivering his speech.
Michael delivering his speech.

Conway, which was founded in 1961, has moved its operations and 250 staff to Sevenoaks from Dartford.  The company works across the South East, including Olympic and Diamond Jubilee Projects as well as the Barclays’ Cycle Superhighway in London.  The new office is the result of a complete refurbishment, with state-of-the-art office facilities and a fresh exterior.

In his speech, Michael welcomed the company and its staff to Sevenoaks.  He announced that unemployment in his constituency has fallen to its lowest ever recorded level and said that he was proud that jobs like those provided by Conway mean that Sevenoaks is a bustling and vibrant centre of employment.

Travellers on Brittains Lane Common

Michael has been in contact with Sevenoaks Town Council about the travellers who arrived at Brittains Lane Common earlier this week.

The Town Council are landowners of this registered common land and are therefore responsible for leading the proceedings for removal of trespassers.  The Council has commenced these legal proceedings today.

More information is available here.  If you have any further concerns, please email the council.

Unemployment in Sevenoaks Falls to Lowest Ever Level

unemployment jul 16Michael has welcomed new figures showing unemployment in Sevenoaks has fallen to its lowest recorded level.

Figures released today show that the total number of claimants in June was just 404, equivalent to 0.9 percent of the population.

Unemployment in Sevenoaks is now 10 percent lower than at the general election last year and over 60 percent lower than in May 2010.

Youth unemployment also fell to 65, almost 20 percent down on May last year and over 75 percent lower than it was in 2010.

Michael said: “This is great news.  More people in Sevenoaks than ever before now have the security of a pay packet and the ability to provide for their families.  There is always more to do but this news shows Sevenoaks is prepared for the economic challenges ahead.”

Michael Speaks at the Chamber of Commerce Summer Reception

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Credit: Russell Harper

On Thursday, Michael addressed the annual Sevenoaks Chamber of Commerce summer reception.  As Patron of the Chamber, Michael spoke about the impact of the EU referendum result for small businesses and the important role of the Chamber in the local economy:

Thank you Colonel.

It’s a pleasure to join you all tonight in this, the busiest week in politics since last week.

Every MP will tell you that they represent the best constituency in the country.

But clearly they’ve never been to Sevenoaks.

All of you here tonight, coupled with these beautiful surroundings, make that clearer than ever.

I always like to remind people that it is small and medium-sized businesses like some of those represented here tonight which make up 99 percent of the total in Britain.

In Sevenoaks, there are now 600 more businesses than there were six years ago.

Employing more people, producing more goods, selling more services.

That’s the equivalent of a new business being set up every three days.

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Credit: Russell Harper

So despite that success, or perhaps because of it, I know some of you are concerned about the result of the referendum on our EU membership and our current economic instability.

I would like to reassure you that our new Government, led by a new Prime Minister, is already working hard to restore the confidence and certainty that we need.

We are well prepared for the period of adjustment that lies ahead.

We will do whatever it takes to protect our economy.speech

We will forge new arrangements and trade deals.

We will make it work.

As we leave the EU, there will be lots of changes.

It will not be easy to negotiate a deal with the EU that controls immigration and recovers sovereignty while protecting our hard won economic growth.

But what will not change is the ingenuity, commitment and hard work of businesses like yours all around the country, but most of all here in Sevenoaks.

That’s always been valuable and I think its value will become even clearer in the coming years.

But the importance of your contribution demonstrates why the work of our Chamber of Commerce is so important.

I am always impressed by the range of the services and events that are on offer.

I am reliably informed that the new networking meetings are proving to be successful, as well as your recent charity golf day, your newsletter and the Curry Club.

It is with opportunities like these that our local economy can go from strength to strength.  I encourage you all to make full use of them.

Finally, I would like congratulate the Chamber of Commerce on its achievements over the past year, and wish you all the very best of luck.

It’s now a pleasure to introduce Marc Vernet, headline sponsor of tonight’s event and owner of that stalwart of Sevenoaks for the past 25 years, Amherst Accountancy.

Thank you.