Having held further discussions with Network Rail yesterday in support of residents concerned by the proposed ramped footbridge at Lingfield station, I am pleased to announce that earlier today the proposals were withdrawn.
I strongly welcome this decision, which comes ahead of the meeting I will be hosting with residents and Network Rail this evening. The meeting will now be an opportunity to constructively explore the different options for the station, and mark the beginning of the process towards developing an effective solution for the local community.
The latest update on flooding from Tandridge District Council is as follows:
Flood support information for businesses and homeowners
Applications for repair and renew grants are now open. The grant application process consists of five stages. The first stage is to complete and submit a form along with three quotes for your proposed work. If you are approved to receive funding you would need to pay for the work yourself and when it has been completed you will be reimbursed. For more details of the scheme and other support available please visit the following links:
Flood information meetings
The final drop in session will be held in the function room at the Whyteleafe Tavern on Tuesday 15 April 6pm-8pm. Representatives from Tandridge District Council, Surrey County Council, the National Flood Forum and other organisations will be available.
Whyteleafe Flood Appeal
The Whyteleafe Flood Appeal started by St. Luke's Church, Whyteleafe has raised over £15,000. The organisers would now like to issue grants and are asking any Whyteleafe residents affected by flooding to contact them.
The funds being given out are not means tested and are open to all Whyteleafe residents. If you need to make a claim or if you know of any Whyteleafe resident who suffered flood damage to their property and/or garden who may wish to make a claim, please download and complete the Whyteleafe Flood Appeal Claim Form and send to Whyteleafe Flood Appeal, 8 Whyteleafe Hill, Whyteleafe CR3 0AA by 1 May.
Woldingham Road – single lane reopening by 7 April
Woldingham Road is closed from Wapses Lodge to the junction with Bug Hill, with access only to Woldingham School, the egg farm and Birchwood Kennels and Beechwood Riding Stables. There is a formal diversion via the A22, Hillbury Road, Limpsfield Road, Slines Oak Road, Halliloo Valley Road in place and all other local roads are open.
Full access to Woldingham Road is not expected before May, but Surrey County Council is working on a solution to allow a single lane to be re-opened from Bug Hill to Wapses Lodge Roundabout, controlled by traffic lights by 7 April. A map the road closures and diversion can be found here.
For specific enquiries about the road scheme, please contact Surrey County Council 0300 200 1003 during office hours (8am to 6pm weekdays), or visit www.surreycc.gov.uk.
I was delighted to host an event in Parliament on Monday with Young Epilepsy to mark the launch of the charity's Manifesto for Change.
This event followed the successful passage of the Children & Families Act through Parliament, which received Royal Assent on 13 March. For the first time, the Act introduces a requirement to have appropriate, tailored support in place for every young person with epilepsy in every school, based on an assessment of their individual medical, educational and emotional needs.
The event on Monday brought together teachers, health practitioners, and policymakers to look at how the provisions of the Act can be successfully and consistently rolled out to schools across the country. The need for this change was further underlined by new research unveiled at the event, which found that 95% of children with epilepsy struggle with at least one area of learning or behaviour.
I commend Young Epilepsy, who are based in Lingfield, for the leading role they have taken in this process, whether by producing new resources to assist schools during this transition or driving forward the national discussion on caring for pupils with epilepsy. It was a pleasure to be able to host the event, and as a Vice-President of Young Epilepsy I will continue to play my part to help this extremely worthy cause.
On Sunday, I also appeared on The Sunday Politics South East as part of a feature on the challenges faced by pupils with epilepsy. For those interested, the clip (starting approx 45:06) can be viewed here:
Photo: Sam with Sir Gerald Acher, Young Epilepsy President and Lisa Farmer, Young Epilepsy's Acting Chief Executive.
On Friday, I visited Smallfield to assess the latest progress of recovery following the recent floods. I met with Liz Cutter, Chair of Burstow and Smallfield Parish Council, Council Clerk Jeannie Crosby, and spoke with a number of residents whose homes have been flooded.
It is clear that a complex set of factors have caused the flooding and subsequent problems in Smallfield; in one case the water rose through the floor as the water table rose, in others the water flooded from the ditches and roads. Whilst resolving these issues will continue to take time, I am encouraged that there has been a co-ordinated response from the relevant agencies to address the problems experienced by residents, as well as developing a strategy to prevent this happening again in the future.
A range of measures have been put in place to support individuals and businesses affected by flooding, and I would urge anyone who has not already done so to register with Tandridge District Council at: http://www.tandridge.gov.uk/yourcouncil/news/homeownersfloodsupport.htm
This afternoon the Chancellor of the Exchequer delivered his annual Budget to Parliament. Alongside measures to extend tax free childcare, reduce Beer Duty, and provide a further income tax cut for 24 million people through increases to the personal allowance, the Budget also contained a range of measures to support savers. These include:
1. The biggest reform of pensions taxation in a century, meaning:
2. Merging the cash ISA and stocks & shares ISA into a single New ISA with an annual limit of £15,000, to make saving simpler and more flexible. The amount that can be put into a Child Trust Fund or Junior ISA will increase to £4,000.
3. Abolishing the 10p starting rate of tax for savings income – the 10p band will become a zero rate band and will be extended to the first £5,000 of savings income, to help 1.5 million low income savers.
4. Creating a new pensioner bond that will offer a better return than anything pensioners can get now.
Savers have had a hard time in recent years, so I welcome these announcements which will make it easier for people of all ages to save.
Photo by Images_of_Money on Flickr. Used under Creative Commons.
It was a pleasure to meet with Lingfield residents at my latest Sam Direct event on Thursday evening, which was once again a success with almost 50 people attending. Questions from residents had a strong local focus and covered a wide range of issues affecting the village, including a proposed second bridge at Lingfield station, parking enforcement, libraries and planning.
I would like to thank everyone who was able to attend on Thursday, and I look forward to holding further meetings in the near future.
I was delighted that more than 50 people were able to attend my 'Sam Direct' in Chaldon last Friday, for an evening of discussion and questions. An extensive range of topics were covered, from welfare to immigration, High Speed rail to cyber-security and Edward Snowden, and everything in between. I would like to thank all those who were able to come along, and in particular Pam Parker and Councillor Pat Cannon for helping to organise the event and make it such a success.
Photo: Sam with Julia Thomas, Chaldon Councillor Pat Cannon and Julia Knowles
In response to a rise in the number of constituents contacting my office with concerns about local rail services, last Thursday (6th March) I convened a meeting between Southern Rail, Network Rail, and a panel of regular train users from across the constituency. Southern Rail operate trains throughout East Surrey, including along the lines towards Caterham, East Grinstead, Uckfield, Redhill and Horley.
The discussion was held at the Community Hall in Oxted, where a landslip caused extensive disruption to rail services last month. The meeting was an opportunity to explore in depth a number of concerns rail users have about the service including overcrowding on trains, increasingly frequent disruption to services, refunds, and potential options to introduce greater flexibility in tickets available.
Many people in East Surrey depend upon these services for their daily commute into work, and they have the right to expect a consistent quality of service. I am encouraged that Southern Rail and Network Rail have formulated a performance improvement plan to address shortcomings in service over recent months, and a further meeting will be held to assess progress. I will continue to listen carefully to feedback I receive from constituents and monitor this issue moving forward.
In support of National Apprenticeship Week, I wrote an article for The Voice newspaper giving my thoughts on how apprenticeships are helping our young people secure better futures, and why they matter for our economy. You can read the article here.
This week (3rd-7th March) is National Apprenticeship Week.
Following my campaign last year to create 100 apprenticeships in 100 days, which saw 108 apprentices pledged for by local organisations, I was delighted to read new research exploring the value that apprenticeships can add to businesses and the economy.
The research, which was commissioned by the Association of Accounting Technicians, suggests that last year 660 people started an apprenticeship in East Surrey, giving our local businesses a boost of £1.4m.
It is estimated that every time a company in East Surrey hires an apprentice, their bottom line gets an average boost of £2,162. This benefit is immediate, after wage and training costs are deducted.
With generous support from the Government still available, I would encourage all businesses that have not already done so to look carefully at the scheme.
Photo: Sam visiting apprentices at Caterham Dene Hospital, as part of the '100 in 100' campaign
With job growth, real pay rising & lower income tax helping 2 provide economic security, where next for Labour on the economy.#nocredibility
14 hours ago
Wages rising faster than inflation for the first time since Labour's Great Recession. Yet another sign the #LongTermEconomicPlan is working
14 hours ago
RT @matthancockmp: Much more to do to secure families' incomes: but real pay rising, lower income tax, record jobs & lower youth unemployme‚Ä¶
15 hours ago
Lab. legacy was 500k out of work. Ed Miliband predicted our plan would lead to loss of 1million jobs. Now 1.5million in work. #nocredibility
15 hours ago
Unemployment at 5 year low. Another sign our #LongTermEconomicPlan is working to create jobs and economic security
15 hours ago
RT @ConservativesWM: Labour promised 'iron discipline' but delivered a ¬£27.9bn black hole. #SameOldLabour http://t.co/2eBgH6lOQE
1.6 days ago
RT @CCHQPress: Sun leader right to say @Ed_Miliband ‚Äėis incapable of taking the hard decisions necessary to rid the UK of its dependency cu‚Ä¶
1.7 days ago
Good luck all those running the London Marathon today. It's an incredible experience. Enjoy!
3.8 days ago