Saturday, 21 November 2015

Sunbury and Walton Sea Cadets

Last night, I popped in on TS Black Swan, headquarters of Sunbury and Walton Sea Cadets. Commanding Officer, John Kelly, and Chair of Trustees, Gail Cramp, introduced me to their local team, gave me an update on the cadets' latest and upcoming activities, and briefed me on the refurbishment since last year's floods, which created huge disruption for them.

I met all the cadets, and asked them what they enjoyed about the Sea Cadets, and also what they found the greatest challenge. I also looked in, as two of the more senior cadets led sessions for anti-bullying week.

I am a huge fan of what Sunbury & Walton Sea Cadets offer to local youngsters, in terms of practical training,  life skills and self-confidence. A lot of volunteers give up an enormous amount of time to give the cadets some brilliant training, take them out on the water and offer all sorts of excursions and programs all over the country. It is one of my favourite local community groups. They are still getting back on their feet after the floods, so if any local businesses are looking for a worthy community cause, I would thoroughly recommend checking them out.

Friday, 20 November 2015

Healthwatch Surrey

Today, I met up with Kate Scribbens (new Chief Executive of Healthwatch Surrey), and Matthew Parris (Evidence and Insights Manager). Healthwatch Surrey was set up to give patients a voice in local policy-making.

At our meeting, we discussed a recent Healthwatch Surrey survey on patients views around the sharing of records - and the balance of expectations between wanting efficient services, and concerns around safety and confidentiality.

We also discussed local GP practices, and the critical challenge of ensuring surgeries provide an effective appointment-making process whilst also conveying a reasonable sense of expectations to patients. Healthwatch Surrey will feed their findings in to the work Surrey County Council and the local Clinical Commissioning Groups are doing in both of these areas.
Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Bake Off in Thames Ditton

On Friday, I popped in on Venson Automotive Solutions, where employee Steve Wall had organised an in-house 'bake-off' competition to raise money for Children in Need. As pictured below, I joined MD Samantha Roff and Sharon Evans (from the Lime Tree Cafe) to judge the finalists - which, yes, did involve extensive sampling!

Christina (far left) was victorious with an amazing sponge cake decorated with fruit, and the overall standard was amazing. Hats off to Samantha, Steve and everyone at the company for taking the time and effort to put in such a competitive - but equally civic-minded! - effort to raise money for charity.

Friday, 13 November 2015

Flights Overhead From Heathrow

This week, I met up with Nigel Milton (Heathrow's Director for External Affairs) and Cheryl Monk (Heathrow's Head of Community Relations), along with Molesey Councillor Steve Bax (who sits on Heathrow's local Noise Community Forum). The meeting was part of an ongoing dialogue since last year's highly disruptive flight trial paths over Molesey (and Walton). I live under the path, so I hear the noise first hand. Two interesting points emerged from the meeting in that regard. First, no further flight path trials are (at least currently) planned across the same areas. Second, Heathrow have sought independent verification of the noise levels, using a Dutch firm, given the discrepancy between what some residents are reporting and Heathrow's data. My strong sense is that noise levels have reduced significantly, but there have also been a lot of 'Easterly Operations' lately, which increase noise levels, dictated by weather conditions.

Of course, there is a much bigger issue looming, namely the decision on expansion of airport capacity, following the Davies Report. I have made clear that I am scrutinising the Davies Report carefully, including testing the economic and environmental assumptions - both pros and cons - with business groups, local authorities, and other groups. 

As part of that process, I particularly want to test the assumption that a 3rd runway could be developed in a way that reduces noise levels (affecting Elmbridge and more generally). I want to check the facts and evidence very carefully before coming to a firm view, and I will feed my views, our community's interests and concerns into government, before a decision is taken.

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