Friday, 26 June 2015

Thameside Care Home

Last week, I was invited down to Thameside Care Home in West Molesey. It was part open day, and part celebration of a fund-raising effort that resulted in the purchase of a new gazebo, allowing residents to enjoy being outside in the shade as the summer hots up.

I had the honour of declaring the new gazebo officially open. As one of the musically-gifted carers crooned to all the guests, with some old classics, I had a nice chat with the residents and the many relatives who came along to support what proved a really fun occasion.

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Rosalita Edwards' Nursery Sports Day

Last Friday, I was delighted to join Rosalita Edwards' Nursery for their Summer Sports Day, at Imber Court in Thames Ditton. The weather held up for some fiercesome competition in the various events - most notably the hotly-contested grandaprents' races. But, the whole event was conducted in the wonderful spirit that Rosalita and her team bring to the nursery. I was fortunate to be spared from the races this year, but I had the honour and pleasure of awarding medals to all the children who participated. It was great fun, and a good time had by all.


Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Elmbridge Young People's Awards

On Friday night, I took part in one of the annual events in the local calendar that I absolutely love. Elmbridge Young People's Awards is organised by Lynn Hunt (who coordinates Molesey police volunteers) and local PC Phil Jebb. They have a great team supporting them, and our Surrey Police and Crime Commissioner Kevin Hurley opened the event this year.

Amidst some of the negative media stories about youngsters, this is our opportunity to pay tribute to some remarkable and uplifting stories of youngsters doing truly inspiring things in our community. There are various categories of awards, including bravery, young carer and personal adversity, and local schools nominate children for special recognition in each category. 

This year, there were some exceptional examples of youngsters turning their lives around, overcoming personal illness or loss, and charitable fund-raising. It really felt like a showcase of young people with big hearts and tremendous character. We were joined by the High Sheriff of Surrey, Elizabeth Kennedy, Elmbridge Mayor and her Consort Jan Fuller and John Caton, not to mention Charlotte Hawkins from ITV's Good Morning Britain. I had the honour of introducing the winners, and it was a fantastic night. My congratulations to all the children involved - and Lynn Hunt and her team for making it happen!

(Photo courtesy of Richard Baldwin)
Thursday, 4 June 2015

MPs' Pay

I have long held the view that MPs' pay needs to be re-set. It was artificially held down for many years, which means Parliament is at risk of deterring talented people from humble backgrounds from entering politics. I also agree it should be benchmarked to other comparable public sector jobs, and decided independently ie not by politicians themselves.

MP's pay has now been reviewed by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA), which decided on a 10% pay rise, but less generous pensions. It is hoped the costs would be covered by cutting the number of MPs - blocked by the Lib Dems in the last Parliament, but part of our plan as a Conservative government.

Every MP needs to work out for him or herself what is the right thing to do, and be accountable locally for that. In my view, whilst MPs' pay needs to be re-set, it is difficult to justify it when the rest of the public sector is seeing pay frozen or capped at 1%. Therefore, as I made clear during the election campaign, so long as there remains a freeze or 1% pay cap in the public sector, I won't accept a pay rise myself. 

Oddly, it seems MPs can't just request IPSA not to pay it. So, the only option may be to have the extra amount deducted, and given to a local charity - in which case that is what I would do.


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