WELCOME TO MY SOUTH WEST SURREY UPDATE NO.231.
As Parliament breaks up for recess, there has been some positive news on inflation which fell sharply but there is still much work to do as I wrote in this week’s Farnham Herald. Locally there is a lot of concern at Waverley’s decision to terminate their long lease on The Edge Sports Centre which is a lifeline for many sports and disability clubs.
WHAT’S GOING ON IN WESTMINSTER
INFLATION DOWN Yesterday we heard that inflation has fallen to 7.9% from 8.7% last month which is lower than economists had predicted. We are following the same approach as the US, where it has fallen to 3%, and the Eurozone where it is 5.5% so we need to see this through. If the government and the Bank of England are prepared to take difficult decisions, we can do this. Even after the good news prices are rising much too fast for families across the country so we do have to stick to the plan as I say in this video.
INVESTMENT ZONES Big moment for our ambition to the world’s next Silicon Valley when I visited South Yorkshire last week to announce the UK’s first investment zone. As explained in this video, investment zones are how we are going to make sure the benefits from our innovation industries - life sciences, technology, advanced manufacturing, clean energy, and creative industries - spread across the whole country. Boeing is the anchor tenant for the South Yorkshire investment zone (did you know we make half the world’s large aircraft wings?) which will also be backed by the University of Sheffield’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre, Spirit Aerosystems and Loop Technology. More about how the 11 investment zones will work can be found in my explainer here.
MORE GOOD NEWS A huge boost for our car industry this week when Jaguar Land Rover-owner Tata announced plans to spend £4bn on creating a UK flagship battery factory - which is a real vote of confidence in our advanced manufacturing sector. Many people think we don’t manufacture any more but we are actually the 9th largest manufacturer in the world - something that will be bolstered by one of the largest ever investments in our electric car industry, providing nearly 50% of the car batteries the UK needs by 2030.
AND MORE…The Business and Trade Secretary also formally signed the treaty to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). The UK will be the first European member and the first new member since the CPTPP was created in this high growth trade block which could account for half the world’s middle classes by 2030.
AND EVEN MORE…Separately we are also making progress in getting better rates for savers with engagement by the regulator, the FCA, to get lenders to be faster in passing on increases when interest rates go up.
WHAT’S GOING ON IN SOUTH WEST SURREY
GREEN SPACES Those concerned about pollution in the Wey and other local rivers will welcome new legislation announced by the government yesterday which means that companies that pollute the environment will face unlimited fines. Regulators will have powers to hold companies – from energy and water companies to waste operators and incinerators – to account whether they are breaching storm overflow permits or disposal hazardous waste recklessly. As Chancellor, I changed the rules so that all the fines paid by water companies go directly back into cleaning up the rivers, and DEFRA also decided to invest future fines into a Water Restoration Fund which will be used to improve water quality. This new legislation is another positive step in protecting the environment– creating a further deterrence for companies who might pollute.
CANCER CAMPAIGN As we fast approach summer holidays for many and schools finishing this Friday, an update is that the grand total raised for our Royal Surrey Cancer and Surgical Innovation Centre campaign stands at (drumroll) an amazing £385,000. This is quite staggering and a fantastic amount on which we can (hopefully!) continue to build and increase in support of new cancer treatment and services at the hospital. The fundraising teams are already planning and discussing new and creative ideas to raise funds in the next phase of this important campaign so please get involved - half of us will sadly get cancer in our lives, as I know from my own family’s experience.
THE EDGE SPORTS CENTRE CLOSURE Like many I was disappointed that Waverley Borough Council made the decision to terminate their long lease on The Edge Sports Centre in Haslemere. It is a hammer blow for the many voluntary sports organisations that use the facility and will cost Waverley council taxpayers £1-2 million in dilapidation payments - far more expensive than any money saved - so there is no financial logic either. There are lots of parties working on this to find a way forward. I met with Tim Oliver, Leader of Surrey County Council to talk to him. He was equally baffled by Waverley’s decision and we both sincerely hope Waverley changes its mind which it can still do.
SURGERY UPDATE My first call was to a lady from Godalming about how to get council houses retro-fitted to reduce their energy waste. She explained to me how the new passive house standard could be a much more effective way of measuring precisely the emissions saved from retro-fitting. Her idea is to employ university students on placements to do the retrofitting so they could earn money, help the climate agenda and ease the supply chain pressures which are slowing down retro-fitting. I am going to put her in touch with Alison Rose, CEO of Natwest, who is doing a national review for me on how to reduce our national energy consumption.
I then spoke to a lady from Busbridge who spent three months in a community in the West Bank and saw a lot of harassment by settlers of the shepherd community where she was living. The UK government disagrees with settlements that are illegal under international law, which she recognised, but asked whether we could do more to support Palestinian communities with our budget so I will write to aid minister Andrew Mitchell.
Then I spoke to a Farnham resident about his concerns about the effect of chlorine in drinking water and his concern that the scientific advice on the risks is being covered up.
Finally I spoke to an Elstead resident extremely concerned about bullying or deceptive behaviour by TV Licensing particularly in relation to young people. It really does sound horrendous and there is a lot of confusion about the extent to which online viewing requires a licence. I am going to raise with the Culture Secretary.
PHYLLIS TUCKWELL The amazing Phyllis Tuckwell has announced plans for a brand new building on its Farnham site. Its current 1930s building has reached the end of its useful life and the new building will take the facility from 14 to 18 beds as well as expand its outpatient, rehabilitation, community and Living Well facilities so that they can care for as many as 3,000 people a year by 2040. Work is set to commence in September this year and will take around two years to complete. The project is likely to cost about £16m for which they have saved up £10m and now need to fundraise for the remaining £6m. They will be organising various fundraising events from this autumn and would be grateful for your support. For more information please visit: pth.org.uk/new-hospice.
CALLING ALL BUSINESS OWNERS IN FARNHAM At last month’s Farnham Infrastructure Board meeting, it was announced that a survey of the town centre’s businesses was planned so that a clearer and more accurate idea of the access and delivery needs of local businesses could be understood. The survey has now gone live and will be open until 2 August 2023. If you have a business in Farnham town centre, please let the team know.
HYDON HOBBLE I spotted these amazing pictures of Hydon Hobble on the Godalming & Villages Community Board – congrats to all who completed it!
SURREY SCHOOLS Well done for coming to the end of another school year. My children break up today so the hard work of summer holidays begins!
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