Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Local Round-Up

I have been buzzing around locally over the last fortnight. Amidst the various highlights, I caught up with Surrey Downs Clinical Commissioning Group, which coordinates and commissions local health services in Elmbridge. I reinforced the value and importance of providing support for local GP surgeries, and providing additional health services in the community - to take pressure off the major hospitals like Kingston. I registered the particular importance of this for their strategic review of local community hospitals - which will cover Cobham and Molesey hospitals.

I also caught up with Walton Charity Chief Executive, Jackie Lodge. We had an interesting discussion about local cost of living pressures across the borough, including around childcare availability and affordibility, affordable housing and the cost and reach of local public transport. Walton Charity have commissioned some research into this, which is welcome. It is certainly an issue for many on low and even middling incomes - not to mention key public sector workers we rely on.

Finally, for all the media portrayal of the tensions between government and the unions, I met up with Nick Lang, head of department at Hinchley Wood School and a NUT representative - a guy I have always found I can have a really good, insightful and constructive conversation with. Nick wanted to raise changes in the curriculum - especially around the Ebacc - and concerns around anxiety and depression amongst students generally. I talked through what the government is doing, and also took away some points to follow up on.

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Ahmadiyya Muslim Association

Today, amongst other things, I caught up with Nadim Vanderman (pictured below) and Shahbaz Bajwa from the Walton branch of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Association. It now has around 130 members and describes itself as promoting the 'peaceful revival of Islam ... [enjoying] an unrivalled record for peace and effort to build cohesive societies'. 

It is focused on education, integration and interfaith dialogue. Nadim and Shahbaz got in touch to ask how they might get their branch more involved in local civic initiatives including charitable fund-raising in Walton and across the borough. It was a real pleasure to meet them and hear more about their group and interests. 

Sunday, 27 September 2015

Elmbridge Food Festival

Today, I took the family along to Elmbridge Food Festival at Painshill Park. In blissfull sunshine, the festival was teeming with people and stalls. From garlic graters to gluten free food, from German bratwurst to Spanish seafood, there was something for everyone. It was a great combination of Painshill's natural beauty and enough different tastes and smells to tempt the most curious of palates. A very relaxing way to spend the Sunday!

Saturday, 12 September 2015

Walton Goose Faye & Heritage Day

Today, I joined Walton Goose Fayre and Walton Heritage Day for a wonderful celebration of the town. Local businesses and civic groups lined the river and Bridge Road (including Walton Rotary club, pictured below with Mike Brown and Rob Freeman). The Cobham Band were on fine form (as below), and there was a hog roast and homemade cakes on offer. Walton Conservatives were out in force. I joined Barbara Cowen, Racheal Lake and Andy Kelly at their stall by the river (pictured immediately below).

The most poignant moment was putting up a plaque to commemorate Sarah-Jane Shellard, the dynamic head of Walton Business Group, who passed away this year. Her friends and family joined the tribute. Sarah-Jane was an absolute sweetheart of a person. She was brilliant at keeping me in touch with retailers and business sentiment in Walton. A truly fantastic person, we'll miss here dearly and I was proud to see her recognised in the heart of the town. 

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