Sam's Snapshot

18 FEB 2015

East Surrey Dementia Summit- Register now!

Dementia is one of the greatest health challenges facing Britain today, and with approximately 1,518 people living with dementia in East Surrey alone, it is vital we make our community as dementia friendly as possible.

I am therefore delighted to be holding the first ever East Surrey Dementia Summit with the Alzheimer's Society on the 27th February at Bletchingley Golf Club. This free event, taking place from 11.30am-1.30pm, will provide an opportunity to learn more about dementia, the latest research and the services available in our local area.

Speakers will include Royal College of General Practioners' Dementia Champion, Dr Jill Rasmussen, Director of Research and Development at Alzheimer's Society, Dr Doug Brown, and Shidaa Adjn-Tettey of Dementia Friendly Surrey. A person living with dementia will also be speaking at the summit and sharing their experiences.

All residents and health professionals from across the constituency are invited to attend, and you can register for a place by contacting Wendy Wilmot at the Alzheimer's Society on 01403 213019 or email surrey@alzheimers.org.uk.

 

Photo: with Windmill Manor Care Home Deputy Manager Izabela Klaczkiewicz and General Manager Clare Gibson 


18 FEB 2015

Tandridge District Council to freeze Council Tax for fifth year running

I strongly welcome the recommendation from Tandridge District Council's Committee to freeze council tax for 2015/16. This will be the fifth year that district council tax has been frozen, and the decision will be put forward to Council for agreement tomorrow. I would like to again congratulate the Council for their excellent work in maintaining high quality local services whilst ensuring value for money for residents.


05 FEB 2015

Supporting local businesses: Access to Finance Summit

On Friday, I hosted an Access to Finance summit, the latest in a series of events to help local businesses, at the Surrey National Golf Club in Chaldon.

I am pleased that around 50 people were able to attend the event, including a range of local firms. The event provided an opportunity for local businesses to learn more about the range of financing options available to them and included presentations by a number of financial providers including Barclays, Funding Circle, Market Invoice and Let's Do Business Group.

I am very grateful to everyone who attended and spoke on the panel, to Barclays for their financial support which made the event possible and to Surrey Chambers of Commerce for helping to organise it. 

Photo: with Councillor Pat Cannon and the Access to Finance panel


03 FEB 2015

Gatwick update: response to Airports Commission consultation

Here is the text of the response that I have submitted to the Airports Commission consultation on future air capacity for the South East:

Dear Sirs,

As the Member of Parliament for East Surrey, I wish to make a submission to raise concerns on behalf of my constituents over the potential expansion of Gatwick Airport.

My particular concerns relate to the impact that the airport's proposal to triple the number of passengers would have for my constituents in terms of local infrastructure and the environment. These can broadly be grouped into the below areas which I believe have been inadequately addressed by Gatwick.

- Jobs – Using a realistic estimate, it is expected that a second runway at Gatwick would create around 60,000 new on-airport and indirect jobs in the local area. Locally, we are fortunate to enjoy a strong economy and low unemployment. The new jobs would therefore far exceed the available labour, and it is unclear how this need would be met.

- Housing and local services – Consultants commissioned by the West Sussex County Council and the Gatwick Diamond Initiative concluded that the new jobs created by a new runway would create a need for 30,000 – 45,000 new houses – equivalent to a new town the size of Crawley or 1,000 houses across forty villages. Where will these houses be built? How can local health and school infrastructure cope with this demand?

- Roads – By 2030, we can expect 60 million passengers to be using local transport to get to and from a two runway Gatwick. This could mean up to 100,000 extra road journeys every day. Even with improvements currently in the pipeline, the M23 will reach capacity by 2030 and exceed it by 2040 – this is without expansion at Gatwick. The reliance on so few routes would mean chaos in the event of normal everyday problems on either route. How would Gatwick mitigate the disruption for local residents travelling to work or school?

- Rail – Gatwick Airport Limited (GAL) predicts 25.7 million train journeys per year by 2030 – double the number using rail at Heathrow today. That is without even taking account of rail journeys by airport staff and by workers in new firms attracted to the area, nor the 'million tonnes' of freight Gatwick claims the rail and road infrastructure might need to accommodate. There is only one rail connection to London, already prone to delays with my constituents struggling to get a seat in the mornings. Planned upgrades to the Brighton main line will only create enough additional capacity to meet around half of new passenger demand created by Gatwick.

- Flight Paths – With two runways at Gatwick, air traffic would more than double, from 250,000 to 560,000 air traffic movements a year. It is not clear where these new flight paths would go and what impact this would have for the communities surrounding Gatwick, both in areas currently overflown and those undisturbed by flight noise from the single runway.

I ask kindly that you take the above information into account when considering this important issue.

Yours sincerely,

Sam Gyimah MP


02 FEB 2015

Oxted School: update, consultation extended

Over the past few weeks I have been contacted by a large number of parents and prospective parents of pupils at Oxted School concerned about the proposed change to Foundation Status and then Academy. I have since spoken with parents, the headteachers and Governors of the school, and noted comments online in other public forums. I have also written to the Governing Board to seek clarification on a number of key issues (read my letter here, and their response here).

From these discussions, I believe that there are a number of important points to clarify within the ongoing debate around these proposals:

The decision to extend the consultation and undertake further parent engagement sessions this week is welcome. It is encouraging that the School has recognised it needs to do more to listen to the concerns of parents and explain the changes proposed.

Whilst there are still questions to be answered around Foundation Status, this would not allow the school grounds to be 'privatised' in any way. The school property would remain publicly owned; any future changes to the site would have to be proven to be in the best interest of Oxted's pupils, with all funds reinvested in improving the school. Land cannot be sold off to benefit anyone else, including The Howard Partnership Trust. In addition, any proposals would have to be reviewed and approved by the Secretary of State for Educatoin.

Becoming an academy is not an unusual step; it will allow the school to make more of its own decisions. Academies have more freedom to take decisions in the interests of pupils, as well as increased scope to collaborate and share expertise if they join a multi-academy trust. Over 60% of schools are now academies, and amongst local state schools in the area the Governing Body pointed out that de Stafford is a Foundation School, and Warlingham an Academy. Staff at Oxted have been balloted and are in favour of the proposals by a clear majority.

The school will remain inclusive. I fully appreciate the concerns of parents, and particularly those who have children with special educational needs, that there could be a change in admissions policy. The Governors have assured me in writing of their commitment to offering a comprehensive education for students of all abilities, and that this includes maintaining the school's outstanding SEN provision and Visually Impaired Unit.

The correct process has been followed to reach this decision. The decision to join a multi-academy trust was taken by the school governors, who received training and sought independent advice before considering a range of possible options for the school. Surrey County Council encouraged the school to consider partnership working and supported the appointment of THPT, who were one of three academy chains interviewed.

A ballot would be impractical. It is not clear who a ballot should include – current parents, the local community, or everyone within the catchment area – and who would pay for it. Many of the issues at stake, from admissions policy, SEN provision, or how Oxted will work with other schools cannot be encompassed within a simple yes or no question.

I will continue to listen carefully to the points being made by all sides as we move forward, and I would encourage parents to get in touch with the school directly to talk through their concerns.


29 JAN 2015

Response from Oxted School Governors

Further to my letter to the Governors of Oxted School (see previous post), please click here to read the Governors' response.


22 JAN 2015

Supporting savers in retirement: new pensioner bonds launched

I strongly welcome the launch of a new National Savings and Investments Bond for pensioners. These new bonds, for people aged 65 and over, will offer market-leading rates and support people who rely on their savings in retirement.

There are two bonds being launched:

  • A one year bond will offer returns of 2.8 per cent gross/AER interest
  • A three year bond will pay 4 per cent gross/AER interest

I am delighted that these new bonds are rewarding older savers and giving them the certainty and comfort of a good return over the life of their investment. The Government has made £10 billion available to allow these bonds to be issued, which should give all those pensioners who wish to take advantage of the rates plenty of time to do so.

You can find out more about these bonds at the following website: http://www.nsandi.com/

 

Photo by Images_of_Money on Flickr. Used under Creative Commons


13 JAN 2015

Reducing flood risk: public consultations open

Further to the terrible flooding we experienced last year, the Environment Agency is conducting two public consultations to mitigate the risks of future flooding:

I would encourage anyone with a view on these matters to take part in the consultations and pass on this information to friends and neighbours.


12 JAN 2015

Discussing the cost of childcare on BBC Woman's Hour

On Friday, I was on BBC Radio 4's Woman's Hour discussing the help available from the Government to support parents with the cost of childcare, following the publication of new research by the charity 4Children. You can listen to the programme here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04xfc1f


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SamGyimah