With Parliament on recess, it has been wonderful to use the last month to meet and catch up with as many of you across the constituency as possible. I have detailed below some of the visits I have undertaken however I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has taken their time to talk to me over the last month.
I would also like to say a huge congratulations to all the pupils who have this month received their GCSE and A Level results. It’s been such a tough year but receiving your grades this month is a huge achievement. Whether you’re starting an apprenticeship, moving to sixth form or university, or going straight into a job, I wish you all the best of luck for the future.
Locally, this month I have been working hard to provide an update on Gracious Lane Bridge. As many of you are aware, there have been a number of tragic incidents over the years at the bridge. The community, for a very long time, have rightly been demanding that safety measures be put in place. And, since becoming an MP I have raised this issue with Highways England on several occasions, obtaining a commitment from the then CEO that such measures would be put in place. Sadly, these works have been delayed on several occasions due to what Highways England have described as “technical difficulties”. The good news is that the parapet has been ordered, but due to other difficulties, the works will not take place until late October. I have therefore been pushing for a temporary measure to be put in place. I am now told a temporary barrier will be in position by early September – but I continue to press Highways England until this happens, as we have had too many false dawns. I was initially concerned to hear that the bridge will have to close whilst the temporary barrier is being installed. However, having made contact with Highways England, I have been assured the temporary works will take place overnight and will be completed within one shift. Mental Health provisions are also of course central to preventing future incidents, however I am hopefully progress is also being made on the practical side.
Finally, as many of you will know, I have followed and campaigned on maternity throughout the pandemic. However, I am becoming increasingly concerned about a number of pregnant women who are choosing not to receive the vaccine. It was heart-breaking to hear recently that half (2 in 4) of the patients in intensive care at Pembury Hospital are pregnant women. Being pregnant is an anxious time, even in the most normal of circumstances. I therefore understand the worry and concern, however it must be stressed that the vaccine is safe. All the evidence is clear that the vaccine won’t hurt your baby. But sadly, COVID is proved to cause miscarriage and early labour. I encourage pregnant women across Sevenoaks and Swanley who have received the vaccine to come forward and share their experience. I hope by talking about this mothers-to-be can be reassured they are not alone. I continue to update my website with the latest guidance on the vaccine and local testing, so please do visit https://www.lauratrott.org.uk/vaccine-update if you have any questions.
Thank you all for your continued support, and if there is somewhere you think I should visit in the coming weeks please do get in touch.
MP for Sevenoaks and Swanley
Below is a snapshot of what we have been working on. If there is anything, I can do to support you, please get in touch.
- I officially opened the new Post Office at Sans Mini Market, opposite Sevenoaks railway station. Accompanied by Sevenoaks District Council Councillors Simon Raikes and Graham Clack, it was lovely to receive such a warm and enthusiastic welcome by Postmaster Roopan Pararajasingam and his family. This is such a superb and convenient location - especially for commuters - and will serve local people well. I wish Roopan all the very best in this new vital service to the people of Sevenoaks.
- I visited Eynsford to meet with Sevenoaks District Councillor Alan Cheeseman, Riverside Tearoom owner Lizzie Giles, members of Eynsford Riverside Watch and other concerned residents to discuss antisocial behaviour, and traffic. I will be seeking to set up a joint meeting of interested parties (such as local councillors, police, and residents) to see what can be done to improve the situation and am looking forward to working together to resolve the issues.
- Along with local councillors Irene Roy and John Edwards-Winser I recently visited The Mount Vineyard in Sevenoaks, where we were shown around by owner Simon Greenwood. There are more than 12,000 vines, spread across over 10 acres, it is a beautiful location, with a brilliant shop, restaurant, and bar. Simon and his team are doing a great job and we are lucky to have such a wonderful venue in our midst.
- I attended the official opening of the new Bat & Ball Centre. The old community centre had served the town well but was in desperate need of repair. Sevenoaks Town Council rightly saw the redevelopment as an ideal opportunity to support their plans for the regeneration of the Bat & Ball area and, with added finance from the Community Infrastructure Levy Board of Sevenoaks District Council Official, they have now built a centre that can be used and enjoyed by the community for years to come. For more information on the centre, and what is can now offer please visit their website.
- I met with local councillors Philip McGarvey and Brian Carroll, who showed me around the beautiful village of Farningham. As part of our conversation, we discussed the speeding traffic through the village and numerous dangerous junctions. I look forward to working with both Brian and Philip on these, alongside tackling fly tipping which is a scourge for the area.
- When the pandemic first hit, the household waste centres were initially closed and then re-opened with a booking system. I have received mixed reviews over the booking system and therefore am pleased to see that Kent County Council are carrying out a consultation over whether to continue with the booking system or revert to the previous system. The consultation is now open, so please do ensure your views are heard by visiting: https://letstalk.kent.gov.uk/wasteconsultation
- It was a pleasure to visit the beautiful village of Fawkham where I met Parish Chairman Laura Evans, District Councillor Lynda Harrison and former and present Parish Councillors Lawrence Moss and Maxine Fothergill. I heard the concerns expressed regarding development in the area and the effect this could have on such a small community. You all know my strength of feeling about the Green Belt, and I will be monitoring closely any developments in the area. Thank you to everyone who came to speak to me and took time out of their day. I really do appreciate it.
- And finally, plastic is such a vital component in our lives but is not an environmentally friendly substance - with only around 10% being recycled. That’s why I was so impressed when I met Tim St Clair-Pearce, Dave Garbett and Paul McMenemy of QMRE at their site in Fawkham. They have a process where all plastic can be recycled back into oil and then can either be turned back into plastic or used for energy. Even excess gases are converted into usable energy. With new regulations forthcoming in relation to plastic waste, this superb process provides an innovative solution.