From Michael Gove MP <[email protected]>
Subject December Newsletter from Michael Gove MP
Date December 24, 2023 1:13 PM
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** Welcome to my December Newsletter!


My newsletter is designed to give an overview of what I've been doing as Member of Parliament for Surrey Heath, so please feel free to forward this on to your friends, family and neighbours. They can sign up to receive it directly by clicking here ([link removed]) .

With every good wish,

Rt Hon Michael Gove MP
Member of Parliament for Surrey Heath
A Christmas Message

The good news of Christmas, the birth of the Christ child in Bethlehem, is a story of hope amid darkness. At a time of trial for so many, with conflict in Ukraine and the Middle East and economic challenges at home, the Christmas message of peace and love is more relevant than ever. To those public servants in Surrey Heath and beyond who keep us safe, and support those in need, I send my heartfelt thanks and I hope every family is touched by joy this Christmas.

** Surrey Heath News
Philpot Lane Flooding: At the start of the month, I was in Chobham to take part in a meeting concerning flooding on Philpot Lane with representatives from Surrey Heath Borough Council, Surrey County Council, and the Environment Agency, together with 13 local residents. It was most helpful that all the interested parties were brought together for a productive discussion on the overall picture and the possible action to take. A huge thank you to Chobham resident, Carole Mancini, for organising.

Jaegermeister: I visited Jaegermeister’s incredible office in Watchmoor Park in Camberley. I had a tour and met the staff, and heard the background to this 5th generation family business. We discussed the challenges the industry faces, such as changes to consumer preferences and the cost of waste packaging. It was helpful to hear their concerns, which I have raised with colleagues in Government.

SSEN: I had a tour of the SSEN substation in Bagshot, and I learned a little bit more about the infrastructure and how it connects together in the area to provide electricity to local residents. I also met some of SSEN’s graduates and apprentices, and it was great to hear about their experiences developing their careers.

Small Business Saturday: 2 December was Small Business Saturday, and we are lucky to have so many wonderful independent shops and businesses across Surrey Heath. It is so important that we do all we can to support our local businesses, particularly throughout the festive season and the winter months, helping to keep the local economy and our communities thriving. Small Business Saturday was the perfect opportunity to celebrate and to thank the many small businesses who play such a vital role in our communities.

Lightwater Christmas Lights: Earlier this month, I had the huge pleasure of turning on the Christmas lights in Lightwater, celebrating the start of the festive season. It was wonderful to join friends for the carol service at All Saints Church, and to see all the different Christmas market stalls in The Square. I would like to say a big thank you to the Lightwater Society, all the local businesses, and everyone else who worked so hard organising such a brilliant event.

M3 Footbridge: On 6 December, I had a follow-up virtual meeting with Christine Allen, National Highways’ Regional Director for the South East, together with several other National Highways team members, for an update on the timescale for the replacement footbridge. National Highways originally stated it would take around 24 months, but now hopes to deliver the footbridge in May 2025, 5 months early. You can read the latest on this issue on my website ([link removed]) .

Accent Housing: A few weeks ago, I joined one of Accent’s teams in Old Dean for their ‘The Big Conversation’ with tenants to hear how satisfied they are with the service they receive. Accent is one of the main Housing Associations in Surrey Heath providing homes for social tenants, and it was helpful to see this door-knocking exercise, hearing directly from tenants about their experiences and concerns. It is clear that there are issues to overcome, but I am pleased that Accent is making a significant effort to improve its service and communication with tenants.

Surrey Heath Borough Council Catch Up: On 8 December, I had a catch up with the Chief Executive of Surrey Heath Borough Council and the Leader of the Council to discuss issues of shared concern, such as the future of Frimley Park Hospital, council tax and attracting businesses to Surrey Heath.

Christmas Craft & Gift Fair: I popped into the Christmas Craft & Gift Fair at St Peter’s Church Hall in Frimley on 9 December. It was such a wonderful event, with lots of amazing stalls and Christmas cheer. All of the proceeds from the fair will go to Sands, which is an important charity that helps bereaved parents following the loss of a baby - ([link removed][0]=AT0idaFccsn7by1O1fJ3qpYhh7duGUZQtES8pHYp6lKfRJUv_HH8TEz_Yn8WAawaKc1SVxtsfrfLxtBfKFAFtpSGuUJjyMlwTRgyB_ABh9_zz6B21k40Wu__WeE7NDwy-7Ty_jnIV_drdnnEMHtTN4WAnIaggc09-5SGK6lFT_LOHXvpSaJusHksFqOtUr4qqa7KBc602ReN)

Bagshot Library: Also on 9 December, I joined the Mayor of Surrey Heath to celebrate the many amazing volunteers who have successfully kept Bagshot Library open as a fantastic community facility for the past ten years. I was delighted that I was able to be there to thank all those volunteers in person, and I also want to say a huge thank you to Valerie White, Chairman of the Trustees of Bagshot Library, for all her brilliant work.

Camberley Sewage Treatment Works: This month, I had virtual meetings with Ofwat and Thames Water about the foul odour incident in Camberley during the summer, and the need for Thames Water to give a financial contribution to the community to make amends and to rebuild goodwill with the community. You can keep up-to-date with my work on this on my website ([link removed]) .

Farnborough Airport: Last month, Farnborough Airport submitted its planning application to Rushmoor Borough Council to expand its operations and to increase the annual flight limit from 50,000 to 70,000 flights per year. Last week, I wrote to the Council to register my objection to the plans, as I am concerned that any expansion will inevitably increase pollution and will also lead to the loss of quality of life, peace and amenity for my constituents who live under the flight path.

Upcoming M3 Works: On 13 December, I had a virtual meeting with Christine Allen, National Highways’ Regional Director for the South East, regarding voids under the M3 between junctions 4 and 3. Constituents will know that since May there has been a lane closure on the London-bound carriageway between junctions 4 and 3. This closure has enabled National Highways to carry out further investigations, following the discovery of voids under the motorway caused by damage to drainage along the road. I have been informed that to make the necessary repairs and to ensure the safety of the motorway, a significant schedule of works will take place 24 hours per day from Wednesday 3 January until Thursday 8 February. This will involve the closure of lanes 1 and 2, leaving lanes 3 and 4 open with a reduced speed limit of 50mph, and the closure of the M3 overnight, including at weekends. I understand that Surrey County Council is delaying some of its road works to ensure diversion routes are kept open. I
know this work will be hugely disruptive, but National Highways was clear that action must be taken, and has assured me that they will do everything possible to complete the works on time. I will monitor this closely.

Christmas Card Competition: Last week, I announced the winners of my 2023 Christmas Card Competition:

• Group 1: Tadhg, in Year 1 at Coworth Flexlands School in Chobham
• Group 2: Sasha, in Year 3 at Hall Grove Primary School in Bagshot

Entries were received from schools in Camberley, Deepcut, Chobham, and Bagshot, and the Mayor of Surrey Heath, Councillor Pat Tedder, kindly agreed to take up the tricky task of choosing two winning designs from an amazing collection of inventive and colourful creations. After much deliberation, the Mayor chose the designs by Tadhg and Sasha, and their artwork now appears on my Christmas cards. I was delighted to visit Hall Grove School in Bagshot on 8 December to present the Group 2 winner, Sasha, with a certificate and a Parliament-themed prize. I hope to visit Coworth Flexlands School early in the New Year to present the Group 1 winner, Tadhg, with his certificate and prize. All the runners up will receive certificates as well.

Kinship Care: Last month, I visited Frimley Green Community Centre to join a Kinship Care Strategy meeting that was organised by the brilliant charity, Family Support Group, which gives valuable support to families providing kinship care. There, I met several local kinship carers and heard about the circumstances that led to them stepping forward to care for the children they look after. They told me about the difficult challenges they face, and their wishes for better financial, educational and mental-health support. I relayed all the powerful and important points they made to my colleagues in Government, and so I am delighted that the Children and Families Minister, David Johnston, announced on 15 December that kinship carers are set to be better supported as the Government launches the first ever national kinship care strategy. You can read more about this most welcome news here
([link removed][0]=AT31PWDa9naMoodX4gqB6yw8kZjcdDeAkYj43hSIdzcHEi2bkqHRxrVlrwnAni8cwu9o0m-76YZtAHU109e2UBbCgXmGHRtfGbJL4L6os6cZ66tQ5dhgDAEcCCdf08YYhSrhXlmiL_y8hjkV50AkiGpDIS97s9kZ9FrdGHR0xBkhtmMj6SZreUkdBV3A2vjRo9OlkljbvgJu) . As the Children and Families Minister says, kinship carers do extraordinary work, and I am incredibly grateful to Stuart Black ([link removed][0]=AZUJqwbF7N2H6Qv2LpcHMhV0CdMavbIOsFyR8bGzxce4x4wYEgrRjmVYudhRZiS234xLd-iuq3z3DDqG4QsIk0ARZHWqlhiMQlHs_WP-zdZ3KZkIz7I9vOoXpS2EuOi42LTO0EvkuALy4tUkZLcM3v4L1k1LwVYkszDwdVHEw5PaSSIlmDY1C7SagXyQBve8PY8&__tn__=-]K-R) , Trustee of Family Support Group and
the Family Rights Group, for all he does and for arranging for me to meet local kinship carers last month at Frimley Green Community Centre.

Royal Mail: I recently had a virtual meeting with Royal Mail regarding the ongoing issue of delays to postal deliveries across Surrey Heath. I spoke with David Gold, Director of External Affairs and Policy, and Chez Bondonno, Operational Performance Lead for the GU area. They are conscious that the team at Camberley Delivery Office has been understaffed for some time, particularly due to challenges with ill-health, but they are going all out to boost staffing levels to improve the service to customers. Vacancies at Camberley Delivery Office can be found at [link removed] ([link removed]) . They also assured me that the Camberley team is working very hard to increase turnaround, and that the situation is improving, despite the significant increase in mail at this time of year, particularly parcels. Royal Mail is well aware of strains on the system, and I understand that parcels need to be
prioritised, due to various reasons with capacity and health and safety, in order to ensure the system can continue to operate. I will, of course, continue to monitor the situation.

Pensioner Cost of Living Payments: This month, I welcomed the arrival of the Winter Fuel Payments and Pensioner Cost of Living Payments for pensioner households in Surrey Heath, worth up to £600, as part of the Conservative Government’s record £104 billion cost of living support package. These latest cost of living payments will make a huge difference, providing help to pensioners with their energy bills and household budgets during the Christmas period and into next year.

Surrey Police Funding: The Government has announced additional police funding totalling £308.7 million for Surrey, which is an increase of £17.3 million on last year – 5.9 % per cent. This funding is part of a total of £843 million to better protect the public. It is excellent news for Surrey Heath and this funding, alongside the 295 new police officers in Surrey, will help to make our streets safer and cut crime.

School Funding: I have just welcomed the news that schools in England are set to benefit from record funding as England’s core school budget reaches almost £60 billion in 2024-25 – its highest ever level in real terms – with Surrey Heath set to benefit from a total funding increase of £1,821,428 in 2024-25 compared to 2023-24.

Surrey Hills: Earlier this week, I joined South West Surrey MP, Jeremy Hunt, and East Surrey MP, Claire Coutinho, for a meeting with the Defra Secretary, Steve Barclay, to discuss Surrey Hills and Jeremy's campaign for it to become a national park. I was pleased to express my support, and if you wish to express your support too, you can sign the petition here ([link removed]) .

** Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities News
Over 70 pubs, theatres and museums rescued by government package: On Friday, we announced £25 million of levelling up funding to save cherished places like pubs, theatres and museums through its Community Ownership Fund. You can read more here ([link removed]) .

Falling back in love with the future: On Tuesday, I gave a speech at the Royal Institute of British Architects, setting out my long-term plan for housing. You can read my speech here ([link removed]) .

£64bn funding package for councils: Earlier this week, I announced a funding package worth over £64 billion to support councils in England to deliver frontline services. You can read further details here ([link removed]) .

Leasehold and Freehold Reform Bill: On 12 December, I opened the debate on the second reading of the Leasehold and Freehold Reform Bill, which I introduced to Parliament at the end of November. This Bill will make it cheaper and easier for more leaseholders to extend their lease, buy their freehold, and take over management of their building, and you can watch my speech here ([link removed]) .

DLUHC OPQs: On 4 December, I was in the Chamber of the House of Commons with my ministerial colleagues from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, answering questions from Members across the House. You can watch the session here ([link removed]) .
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Post: House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA
Email: [email protected] (mailto:[email protected])

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