Sam's Snapshot

21 OCT 2014

Meet your Local MP: Sam Direct in South Nutfield

My next Sam Direct will be at the Christ Church Hall, Kings Cross Lane, South Nutfield, RH1 5NG on Friday 7 November at 7.00pm.

These sessions are a relaxed, informal opportunity for those present to ask whatever questions they have about local issues or on the wider, national topics of interest.

All are welcome to attend, and you can see a flyer for the event here.


17 OCT 2014

Aircraft noise - make your views known to the CAA

I have been extremely concerned by recent reports from across the constituency of the misery caused by increased air traffic at all times of the day, including in areas not previously overflown. With both Heathrow and Gatwick insisting that recent flight path changes have not affected our area, I have held a series of meetings with local residents and the Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign, Gatwick and Heathrow airports and National Air Traffic Services (NATS) to understand the source of the problem.

It transpires that the core issue is the use of the Precision Area Navigation (PR-NAV) system, which allows planes to fly with increased accuracy in and out of Gatwick. Designed to maximise runway use at Gatwick, the changes are part of a wider consideration of our National Airspace Strategy, which feeds, in turn, to the European Airspace Strategy. The effect, however, has been to concentrate aircraft along a much narrower 250-500m corridor of airspace over Felbridge, Lingfield and Dormansland.

The system became mandatory in May this year and coincided with changes in weather conditions causing the normally westerly take-offs to switch to easterly. Typically, 70% of departures from Gatwick will fly to the west, with the remaining 30% taking off to the east. But recent weather has seen this figure reversed, with 90% of flights in September taking off to the East and just 10% flying west.

This has caused an unacceptable concentration of aircraft over our area, which clearly was not taken into account when the system was trialled two years ago. It is shocking that so little has been done to make residents aware of this change, or to ensure an effective mechanism through which they can register their concerns.

The Civil Aviation Authority has responsibility for PR-NAV, and are due to undertake a post-implementation performance review. Working with other Surrey MPs I have already requested an urgent meeting with the CAA, but I would encourage everyone affected to make their views known by contacting them directly.

You can contact the Civil Aviation Authority by email (airspace.policy@caa.co.uk) or post (Airspace Policy Directorate, CAA, CAA House, 45-59 Kingsway, London, WC2B 6TE).

I have also raised concern about the unusual level of noise over Warlingham, Woldingham and Oxted with Gatwick and Heathrow. Neither airport accept responsibility for the increase in complaints. I would encourage constituents experiencing increased noise in these areas to report times and dates of specific planes flying overhead, so that we can present a clear case to stop these unwelcome disturbances.


09 OCT 2014

Redhill Aerodrome: appeal upheld!

I was very pleased to learn that this afternoon the appeal against a High Court ruling permitting a hard runway has been upheld. The judgement confirms that a development of this kind is not permissible within the Government's guidelines to protect the greenbelt, and is hopefully the end of a long-running battle that has blighted the lives of local residents who would have been affected.

This result is a further endorsement of Tandridge District Council and Reigate & Banstead Borough Council's judgement, that this was the wrong development in the wrong place at the wrong time. I would again like to pay tribute to the persistent hard work of Keep Redhill Aerodrome Green (KRAG), Nutfield Parish Council, and the local residents who campaigned so strongly against this development.


17 SEP 2014

Referendum to decide Scotland's future

Tomorrow's referendum is not just an issue for the people of Scotland. The consequences of ending our three hundred year-old union will be felt deeply all across Britain, whether you live in east Scotland or East Surrey.

Families would find themselves divided by a new border, businesses would face new barriers to trade, and as a smaller country with a weaker economy, the rest of the UK would be far less influential in Europe and the wider world.

I passionately believe that the best future for all of us, whether we live north or a long way south of the border, is for the United Kingdom to stay together. As we approach the final hours of the campaign, I would encourage everyone to get in touch with family and friends in Scotland, to let them know why the United Kingdom matters and why it is in all our interests for Scotland to stay with us.


09 SEP 2014

Interview with the Independent: life-changing events often occur in early days of learning

Click here to read my interview with the Independent, covering my role and priorities as Early Years & Childcare Minister.


08 SEP 2014

Better value for money rail services: Government response

The quality of rail services in East Surrey has been a key concern over recent months (see here and here). Last week, I wrote to the Secretary of State for Transport and the Chancellor of the Exchequer calling for the Government to do more to help commuters with the cost of rail fares and, specifically, for January's scheduled fare increases to be scrapped. I also made the case for greater investment in the local rail network and the electrification of the Uckfield line to improve capacity.

The fact is that for many people in East Surrey who commute into central London, there is no alternative to using rail services. The planned above-inflation increase in rail fares would have seen the price of an annual season ticket into London with a travelcard rise to £2,368 from Caterham, £3,035 from Oxted and £3,991 from Horley. This would have put a further strain on families, especially for those in which both parents commute.

I am delighted that the Government has since responded, announcing that rail fares in England will be frozen in real terms for 2014-15, a repeat of the offer made to commuters last year. This is a welcome move for anyone who relies upon the rail network to get to work, and particularly for families where both parents commute by train.

In my letter to the Transport Secretary, I also called for the electrification of the Uckfield line, which would help to reduce pressure at peak times and be a major step towards achieving the faster, more efficient service that our area needs. Over the coming months I will also be discussing with Govia (parent company of Southern Rail and winner of the TSGN franchise) the case for implementing flexible ticketing measures in East Surrey, such as reduced-price season tickets for those commuting into London for only part of a week.


02 SEP 2014

Sam Gyimah MP announces expansion of free childcare for 2,900 two year-olds in Surrey

Evidence suggests that children from less advantaged backgrounds currently start primary school up to 19 months behind their peers. In 21st century Britain this is unacceptable. That is why I am delighted to announce the extension this week of 15 hours of free early education to the 40 per cent of most disadvantaged two year olds, to help them fulfil their potential in life.

Already 116,000 two-year olds benefit from this free childcare, and from this week more than 260,000 children will be eligible, including 2,900 in Surrey. This is an important step that will help ensure that, whatever their background, the next generation will receive the best possible start in life. 


04 AUG 2014

Vishing: BBC Radio 4 interview

On Monday 4th August I took part in a discussion on BBC Radio 4's consumer programme, You and Yours, on the problem of bank fraud and specifically vishing, a relatively new type of telephone scam in which victims are deceived into transferring funds to fraudsters posing as representatives of their bank. 

You can listen to the report here (starts at 35:15). 


30 JUL 2014

Supporting schools in Surrey: Government announces £30m extra investment

I welcome the Government's announcement that an extra £28.4 million will be invested in Surrey schools, part of an additional £390m being allocated in 2015/16 to make funding for schools fairer.

The new funding represents an increase in the total allocated per pupil in Surrey from £4,096 in 2014/15 to £4,308 in 2015/16, a rise of £212. This is an important step forward in providing a fairer balance of funding for schools in local areas across the country, and means that for the first time in a decade, funding will be allocated to local schools on the basis of the actual characteristics of their pupils and schools rather than historic levels of spending.


18 JUL 2014

Sam Gyimah MP joins Department for Education and Cabinet Office

I am delighted to have been appointed a Minister at the Department for Education (early years, early intervention and childcare) and Cabinet Office (constitutional affairs).

Alongside my constituency responsibilities I am looking forward to taking on these new roles.


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