WELCOME TO MY WEEKLY UPDATE NO.243.
I have been heads down putting the finishing touches to my Autumn Statement which is next Wednesday - all the major decisions need to be made a week before so that the OBR has time to process their forecasts. But it comes alongside the really positive news yesterday that inflation has been halved, meaning we have met the Prime Minister’s most important pledge of the year. Meanwhile locally we are still dealing with the consequences of the water outage. We need to find out from Thames Water exactly why the issue happened in the first place as I say in this video and wrote in last week’s Herald.
WHAT’S GOING ON IN WESTMINSTER
INFLATION HALVED Naturally Westminster is obsessed with reshuffle stories (see below) but the news that will make the biggest difference to ordinary families is the fall in inflation. At 4.6% it is well under half what it was a year ago. It means the PM has met his inflation pledge which he long said was his most important one because without low inflation, sustainable growth is just not possible. Some say ‘it was going to happen anyway’ but to make this kind of progress the Bank of England needed to do their job with interest rates, while the government needed to get borrowing and debt under control– which was my job in last year’s Autumn Statement. It is important to say the job is not yet done: we need inflation to get back to its target of 2%. But equally important is that the strategy to get it down is clearly working so we must stick to it.
COUNTING DOWN TO THE AUTUMN STATEMENT As we start to win the battle against inflation, we can now move to the next part of our plan which is to lay the foundations for long term growth - so next week will be an Autumn Statement for Growth. I outlined the main arguments I will be making when speaking in the House of Commons during the King’s Speech debate this week (which was also my first economy debate with Rachel Reeves). My main message is that we should be more positive about our prospects: with Europe’s largest technology and life sciences sectors, we are a global leader in precisely the sectors that will grow the fastest. As I wrote about in this week’s Herald, I have now made my final submissions to the Office for Budget Responsibility (‘the OBR’) which is - as I think everyone knows now - totally independent. So tune in on Wednesday after PMQs at 12:30 to hear their verdict!
RWANDA VERDICT Thanks to measures already taken, small boat crossings are down by a third. But you will have seen that the Supreme Court yesterday said the flights to Rwanda - a key further plank of the government's approach - require a set of changes to be lawful. This is incredibly frustrating as there is enormous public concern about small boat crossings. I share that concern because we should be able to control who enters a country on the basis of a democratic mandate from the House of Commons. The Prime Minister is utterly determined to resolve this so has announced there will be both a new international treaty with Rwanda and emergency legislation to accompany it. Between them these two measures should mean we can finally overcome the legal hurdles that stop the removal of people who have arrived here illegally.
RESHUFFLE NEWS On Monday Rishi Sunak announced a new team as many of you will have seen. Having worked closely with David Cameron for many years when he was Prime Minister, I was particularly pleased to see him at Cabinet on Tuesday. He brings immense gravitas and experience which is so essential at a time of great international danger. William Hague, who was Foreign Secretary a few years before me and who also worked closely with David, wrote an excellent article about this in The Times this week. I also have the highest regard for the new Home Secretary James Cleverly and the new Health Secretary Victoria Atkins, who worked closely with me in the Treasury. I try not to be political in these newsletters but I really do think that this is a group of ministers that demonstrate professionalism and a willingness to do the right thing for the country – even when those decisions are tough ones.
WHAT’S GOING ON LOCALLY
WATER SUPPLY As I wrote in last week’s Herald there are several questions remaining for Thames Water after the significant issues we had with water supply in the constituency last week. On Friday I spoke to local residents about what happened when door-knocking and as shown by some of the stories highlighted in this video there is lots to get to the bottom of. I have therefore written to the co-CEOs of Thames Water to set out our main concerns– you can read my letter here. I am very grateful that they have agreed to a public meeting in the near future but we really need to make sure that these issues never come up again, so I look forward to hearing their thoughts on the points I raise.
ROWLY WATER LEAKS Meanwhile, with two water leaks within 300m of each other in Rowly over the weekend, residents there also had a frustrating few days. This has been a regular occurrence in this area, so I am looking into the issue and what can be done.
BRAMLEY FUEL I continue to be contacted by Bramley residents about fuel smells and fuel contamination leaking into Bramley stream. I know it has been pretty bad this week so here is the current situation: EPS (the petrol station’s environmental consultant) has confirmed gross contamination under and around the filling station by a fuel leak. Although the leak is historic and sealed, fuel is travelling in Bramley’s groundwater and EPS has spent recent months investigating where and how the fuel is moving. The Environment Agency is formally investigating this contamination. I have recently been told by Thames Water that one home close to the filling station is under a ‘restriction of use’ because of evidence of hydrocarbons in their water system. I understand this house is an isolated incident— but it is still wholly unacceptable that this is happening. If you see or smell anything please do contact the Environment Agency (and keep me updated). I have arranged a meeting next week with the Environment Agency, EPS the petrol station’s consultant, and Thames Water so will keep you posted. In the meantime if you would like any further information on this please click on Bramley Parish Council’s website here, which contains EPS’s latest update and advice note.
GREEN SPACES Thank you to everyone who came to my Godalming litter pick last Friday in Broadwater Lake and Park. Thankfully the rain held off for us! If you are interested in joining us for the Haslemere litter pick on 8th Dec please do email my office.
In other green news, as part of Surrey’s 1.2 million new tree strategy, Surrey County Council is looking for volunteers who would be interested in helping to plant trees in the local area. Tree planting is not only a great way to be out in the fresh air but of course also helps boost biodiversity, protect against flooding, and helps with carbon capture. There is more information about the initiative here. If you would be interested, you can join Surrey County Council’s tree planting volunteering mailing list here.
MYTCHETT LAKE LITTER An absolutely appalling 60 (!) laughing gas canisters were found on a litter pick around Mytchett Lake over the weekend. Well done to Mytchett Lake Fishing Association for their efforts with cleaning up the local area but this really is a shocking amount of litter– pictures on the Ash and Ash Vale Community Board. The government has now made the possession of laughing gas illegal – exactly because we have seen this sort of problem across the country, not to mention the serious health risks posed to young people– so we should see less of this in the future…
AI IN THE LOCAL AREA The UK is Europe’s Silicon Valley and the world’s third largest tech economy– but we also have lots of tech firms in the local area contributing towards that. Why is that? Increasingly many startups employ a lot of people virtually so why not set up a small office near where you live rather than in an expensive city centre? I visited the brilliant AI and digital marketing company Innovation Visual on Friday– thanks to Tim and the team for making me so welcome.
BUSBRIDGE JUNIOR SCHOOL My next visit was to Busbridge Junior School where I met Richard Catchpole, his team, and students. Richard and I had a very helpful discussion about the pressures on school finances– thank you for the warm welcome.
ASH CARPARK Well done John Tonks who got the sign update at Coronation Garden to 2m - finally! Picture on Ash and Ash Vale Facebook Community Board here.
REMEMBRANCE SUNDAY It was an honour to attend the Cenotaph on Sunday for the service of remembrance. It is always such a moving occasion, not least because you see all the party leaders and former Prime Ministers of different parties come together. There were also some excellent photos of services across the constituency, including in Cranleigh. Recently I had the privilege of meeting 97 year old Henry Rice, a D-Day veteran. To use his words– “we must never forget their sacrifice.”
CHRISTMAS SHOPPING The Surrey Hills Artisan Christmas Market will take place at West Horsley Place from Friday 24th November to Sunday 26th November– more details here. A reminder also that weekend that a Christmas Craft Fair will also take place at the Tongham Community Centre– there are details here.
SOCIAL MEDIA If you would like more regular updates of my work locally and nationally, do follow me on Facebook, X (Twitter), or Instagram.
JOIN ME Want to get more involved locally? Email me at email@example.com to join my growing team supporting our work in our community.
AND FINALLY… I was lucky enough to get a sneak peek at the new coins which have started production at the Royal Mint– do take a look at the coins featuring the King’s passion for conservative and the natural world here!