Summer Fetes

Erika and I have been visiting local fairs and shows whilst the good weather holds. Today, we enjoyed lunch and the opening of the brilliant Claygate Flower Show (below, with President Susanne Tunnicliff and her husband Kenny) …. … before joining Mike Roycroft and his fantastic team at the Whiteley village Summer Fete (above). Both […]

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Funding for Princess Alice Hospice

I was delighted to hear this week that capital grant funding for Princess Alice Hospice has been confirmed despite the parlous state of the public finances. The hospice does incredible work for those with terminal illness – and their families – and Ministers have now confirmed to me that a £40k tranche of capital funding, […]

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Campaign to Save NSPCC Surrey branch

I have written the following open letter to Andrew Flanagan, Chief Executive of the NSPCC: Dear Mr Flanagan CLOSURE OF SURREY BRANCH OF THE NSPCC I am writing in relation to the planned closure of the Surrey Branch of the NSPCC in Leatherhead. I have spoken to Julie Cole, NSPCC Regional head of Services in […]

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Prescott’s Legacy

One of the legacies of the last government is John Prescott’s disastrous stint in charge of planning. Whilst, the new government has made a fresh start – scrapping the South East Plan (with its arbitrary housing targets) and announcing plans to tackle ‘garden-grabbing’ and illegal traveller sites – it will not be possible to roll […]

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Fairer Local Funding, Stronger Local Democracy

Yesterday, the new ministerial team at the Department for Communities and Local Government appeared before Parliament. It was an important first opportunity for MPs to test the new government’s commitment to strengthening respect for communities and local democracy – and the early signs are good. I had been concerned that the Conservative pledge in opposition […]

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Maiden Speech

Yesterday, I delivered my maiden speech in the House of Commons, during the Constitutional and Home Affairs debate on the Queen’s Speech. I paid tribute to my predecessor Ian Taylor, highlighted the poor funding deal we get from central government for local services – and its ramifications – and made the case for reversing the […]

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Community Spirit in Elmbridge

This week, I have been down to Cobham Day center, Walton Charity and Lower Green Community Association to hear how they are faring in the aftermath of recession. The voluntary sector suffers in any economic downturn, but I was delighted to see all three thriving despite the financial pressures. The voluntary sector play an important […]

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Government Scraps South East Plan

This week, Communities Secretary Eric Pickles announced that the government is scrapping all Regional Strategies, which impose top-down housing targets on local communities. Here in Elmbridge, the South East Plan had piled the pressure on our greenbelt, and other open spaces, by dictating the building of almost 6,000 new housing units. Mr Pickles has written […]

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Sport in the Community

On Friday, I visited Cobham Sports Association with Councillor Jan Fuller. It is an amazing local sports club, with great facilities and a strong family dimension. We met the Under 17’s Rugby team (below), who recently stormed 55-3 to win the national championships, a fantastic achievement. There was all the camaraderie you expect at a […]

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The Dittons Fair

Today, I embarked on my first official duties – opening The Dittons Fair, which is celebrating the centenary of the local Scouts Group. We talked a lot in the election campaign about promoting the ‘Big Society’ – strengthening the family, promoting community spirit and providing more positive activities for young people. Nothing captures that better […]

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