WELCOME TO MY SOUTH WEST SURREY UPDATE NO.233.
I hope everyone managed to have a very restful summer despite all of the rain. Over the parliamentary recess we had encouraging stats from the Office for National Statistics on economic growth and inflation. Meanwhile locally, there has been some progress on the Boots closure in Farncombe and I remain hopeful that issues surrounding The Edge in Haslemere will also be resolved soon.
WHAT’S GOING ON IN WESTMINSTER
UK LEADS EUROPE FOR GROWTH At the end of last week the ONS published revised statistics which showed that Britain’s economic performance was much stronger than originally thought which I discussed with Trevor Phillips on Sky News and Laura Kuenssberg on the BBC last weekend. The British economy is 0.6% bigger than it was pre-Covid which is higher than Germany, France, Italy or Japan. Going back further, Britain is the third fastest growing economy in the G7 since 2010 - showing that declinist narratives about Britain and our future are just wrong, as I also wrote in the Sunday Telegraph this week.
FURTHER ENCOURAGING NEWS We had two further bits of good news over the summer. The first was that the UK economy grew by 0.5% in June and 0.2% across Quarter 2 (April to June) as a whole. The second was that inflation has come down to 6.8% in July. The difficult medicine we are taking - interest rate rises, restraint on tax cuts - is working but we need to stick to it if we are to halve inflation this year as I say in this video. What all of this shows is that Britain’s economy is far more resilient—and stronger—than some have argued. As I also told Laura Kuenssberg this weekend the Prime Minister and I have a plan to go much further by making Britain a global leader in the industries that will grow fastest this century. However I am very aware of how stretched families are feeling in the run-up to the Autumn Statement which will be held on 22nd November.
MEETING THE WEALTH CREATORS Over the past week I met several leaders from those high growth sectors. My colleague Lucy Frazer who is Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and I met leaders within the creative industry, which is a sector we backed with £1.6 billion in tax relief last year, helping to boost investment. I also spoke to green industry leaders to discuss plans to boost green investment and the UK’s £20 billion investment into the early development of carbon capture and storage technology. Our financial services sector is one of the strongest in the world - and its taxes pay for half the cost of the NHS - so on Wednesday morning I held a roundtable with the sector to discuss how to remain competitive. And I spent yesterday morning in Birmingham where I saw for myself the developments being made into our electric vehicle charging infrastructure – something which will be crucial for our 2050 net zero target.
SCHOOLS You will have read the headlines about RAAC schools, where contrary to the impression in the media the government has acted faster than administrations in Wales and Scotland to identify and resolve the problem. All schools in South West Surrey have now restarted their terms as normal and our thoughts are with the staff and pupils in the approximately 100 schools nationwide that are still resolving issues.
WHAT’S GOING ON IN SOUTH WEST SURREY
ROYAL SURREY CANCER CAMPAIGN Regular readers of this newsletter will know about the campaign I launched with the Royal Surrey to raise funds for a new cancer and surgical innovation facility at the hospital. The hospital is now opening its doors to the community so you can find out more about this snowballing campaign. The free event takes place on Saturday 23rd September from 10am to 3pm. As I also wrote in this week’s Herald, this campaign is very personal to me after the very sad loss of my brother Charlie a month ago - thank you to many of you who have written the most wonderful condolence letters.
EVEN MORE TREES IN SURREY! In an effort to meet Surrey’s ambition to be a carbon neutral county by 2050, Surrey County Council has recently set out targets to plant 1.2 million new trees, which is an incredible one for every resident by 2030. Surrey already has more trees than any other county in England (reflected in the Council’s logo) but this new initiative will go even further to provide habitats, boost biodiversity, protect against flooding and help carbon capture. More than half of the respondents to my survey have said climate change is their top priority so I know just how welcome an announcement like this will be for our local environment.
BOOTS CLOSURE Last week I spoke to the CEO of Boots, Sebastian James, about the proposed closure of Boots in Farncombe. We spoke about the strong local opposition, including Daniel Husseini's petition with over 1,000 signatures, and the pharmacy’s vital importance to the community - not least because of population growth in Farncombe and Binscombe. He agreed to take the issue away and look at it again. A huge thank you to all who have been campaigning on the issue - he had noticed!
THE EDGE I know that the continued closure of The Edge is continuing to be a massive worry for many sports clubs and residents in the constituency. I had hoped to meet the LibDem Waverley leader on Friday as Waverley caused the problem by surrendering their lease but the meeting was postponed at the last moment. Surrey County Council are working hard to prioritise access for the schools with the start of the new school term and I sincerely hope Waverley changes its mind on this. It is the role of borough councils to provide facilities in Surrey so let’s hope they see sense and reinstate their long lease for this important community facility. I will keep you updated.
BANKING HUB FOR HASLEMERE After months of pushing for some sort of banking hub in Haslemere, I am pleased that one is on track to open by the end of the year at the old Lloyds banking site. The Post Office will run a counter service where customers of major banks and building societies will be able to carry out cash transactions, as well as get help and support from a community banker service. This is excellent news and I know many in Haslemere will be relieved.
WRECCLESHAM BRIDGE The visibility of Wrecclesham Bridge has been greatly improved, and some of you may have seen the very bright and clear new signage. This is a great improvement and will help to minimise the risk of HGV collisions. I have posted a picture on the Farnham Community Board here.
READ EASY A local organisation called Read Easy who help adults learn to read are looking for supporters and volunteers. Do have a look at their website here if you are interested.
TAKE PART FAIR Do go down to Farnham Maltings on Tuesday 12th September between 3pm and 7pm to visit the Take Part Fair– a community event showcasing the range of activities and social opportunities on offer in and around Farnham. Entry is free and there is no booking required. The website is here for more information.
SURREY HILLS This weekend in Cranleigh is the Surrey Hills Wood Fair, promising to be a fantastic day out for families. This year kids under 16 go free– and the weather forecast looks very promising! More details here.
SHALFORD FAIR I met Frankie from Snooty Fox who reminded me about the Shalford Fair last Sunday. Sorry not to make it this year but I am sure a good time was had by all.
NEW CANDIDATE Great news for Farnham and Haslemere residents as the brilliant Greg Stafford has been chosen as the new Conservative candidate ahead of the next election. I am incredibly sad to say goodbye to half of my constituency but am delighted that such a high flyer has been chosen. Greg has a background in the NHS, is extremely hard-working and will do Farnham and Haslemere proud.
JOIN ME Want to get more involved locally? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to join my growing team supporting our work in our community.
AND FINALLY… The Times has posted some of the best animal pictures from August and whilst there are some great ones in there, they have nothing on Poppy! The link to vote for her to be Westminster dog of the year is here.