Thursday, 3 September 2015

MP's Pay Rise

As the Conservative candidate for Esher & Walton during the general election campaign, I made clear that I would not accept a pay rise for MPs, while salaries for the rest of the public sector remained frozen or capped at 1%. Now, re-elected as your MP, I will be true to my word.

Every MP must come to their own decision – and be accountable locally to voters for their position. Equally, I am not against a pay rise in general. In truth, MPs’ pay was artificially held down for many years, while pay in comparable public sector jobs increased. This creates a very real risk that we end up deterring talented people from modest backgrounds from entering politics. Pay for MPs is also now set by an independent body, not politicians themselves. It was that body which proposed the current pay rise as part of a package including less generous pensions and other cost-saving measures. My specific objection is to the timing – I don’t think I can accept such a pay rise, when all other public sector pay is frozen or capped at 1%.

Oddly, MPs cannot actually refuse this pay rise. So, I have nominated to donate my pay rise to the Elmbridge Community Fund (ECF). Why? Although Elmbridge is sometimes caricatured as a universally wealthy borough, there are pockets of very real disadvantage and many people need support. We also historically have got a poor deal in terms of local funding from central government – which the government has started to put right. Since being launched in January, the ECF provides grants to support local community and voluntary groups who are making a difference, such as Walton Stroke Group or Oasis Children’s Centre (in Cobham).

We want the ECF to become a permanent fund and grow over time. I hope that this contribution will provide more support for vulnerable neighborhoods or families and communities across Elmbridge – and, above all, encourage other potential donors to come forward to help us build this community fund.
Sunday, 30 August 2015

Remembering Waterloo

Today, I went along to Painshill Park with the family. As well as enjoying the stunning grounds, the Napoleonic Association put on a fastic historic re-enactment of various aspects of the Battle of Waterloo - as detailed here. It was a great way to bring alive the reality of the battle. I sat with both my young sons watching the skirmish before us, pictured below, and they absolutely loved it. It's on again tomorrow, in case anyone is interested. I just hope we do as well against the French in the rugby next month!

Thursday, 13 August 2015

National Citizen Service

This week, I joined the National Citizen Service (NCS) for the third week of one of their summer programs - at Sandown Park in Esher. A team of 12 volunteers (16 - 17 year olds) from across Surrey were working on the theme of social inclusion. Their first week involved them travelling to Devon, completing an expedition and various rock climbing challenges as a team. 

The second week involved them gaining a sense of independent living by staying at the University of Surrey, budgeting and cooking for themselves. During the daytime, they visited elderly care homes and disability centres and used various skills such as media, photography, drama and enterprise to interact with the service users.

In the third week, the team were tasked to create a campaign idea of their choice based on an issue affecting Surrey that they want to change. They came to Sandown to pitch for a pot of money to implement the campaign. I came along to see them rehearse for their Dragon's Den pitch, to a combination of councillors and business people, later in the week. The team - pictured below - had a great idea for a social media campaign to get youngsters involved in local community initiatives. Phil White (General Manager, Sandown Park) and I tried to give them a few pointers, as they practised their pitch. But, in truth, they combined a smart idea with a very credible presentation. We we very impressed with them, and the NCS.

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Downside Nursery Sportsday

Last Friday, I visited Krystyna Griffiths and her fabulous team at Downside Nursery, for their annual sportsday (pictured below). Many parents also joined the occasion, creating a wonderful atmosphere in the glorious sunshine. The children were fantastic - incredibly well-behaved, and very enthusiastic about the races! I also got the chance to catch up with Nifi Nima, the nursery's first apprentice, who has now completed her Level 2 in childcare development.

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