Wednesday 23rd April 2014
News Feeds:
10
Apr
2014

Queens Head 2Jo Johnson MP waded into potentially unsettling political territory last week, visiting a pub in the village of Downe – home of Ukip leader Nigel Farage.

Mr Johnson, MP for Orpington and brother of the almost certainly less tame Mayor of London, went over to the Queen's Head to shake hands with owner Nigel Andrews on Friday April 4.

The pub has just been given the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) 'Pub of the Year' award for Bromley borough and Mr Johnson wanted to congratulate him for the achievement.

While doing so the Conservative politician noted the important role these establishments play in the lives of his constituents, adding the accolade was "richly-deserved."

He said: "Pubs play a crucial role in the social life of Orpington and contribute, on average, £100,000 each to the local economy.  I am grateful for Nigel's warm hospitality and strongly urge residents to visit the pub soon."

Mr Johnson mentioned discussing the recent budget too, including the announcement that beer duty would be cut by a further penny.

He later canvassed local councillors in the lead up to the local and European elections, which take place on May 22.

Although Downe falls within Mr Johnson's constituency, to Mr Farage the news of a rival Tory talking beer in his home turf may spark unease in the Ukip MEP.  He is known to enjoy a pint or two and has been pictured at nearby drinking hole, the George and Dragon, in the past.

To read the full story, click here

 
08
Apr
2014

renal clinicA woman suffering with kidney problems has become the first patient at one of two new clinics at Princess Royal University Hospital (PRU). Sameena Ahad-Bokhari, of West Wickham, had developed a condition after her first pregnancy that stopped the organs from working properly.

The mother of three praised the facilities, which opened last month, and is now on the road to recovery.  She said: "The new clinic at the PRUH is much more convenient. It's closer to my home and it's the hospital where my children were born.  I'm really pleased that now I only have to travel to the PRU for them".

Previously residents in the Bromley borough had to go up to London - to the King's College Hospital (KCH) in Camberwell.  A team of three consultants and a specialist nurse at KCH are behind the new service and now work one day a week at PRU.  Dr Satish Jayawardene, one of those who established the services, said: "We really wanted to set up a local service for local people and that's exactly what we've done. Bromley patients can receive the same standard of care much closer to home."

A spokeswoman at PRU said chronic kidney disease affects around five per cent of the population.  The hospital is currently seeing 20 to 30 patients a week but will see approximately 40 patients in that time frame when at full capacity.

Jo said: "This is yet another sign of the dramatic improvements to patient care services under King's leadership.  I wish Sameena and full and speedy recovery".  

 
08
Apr
2014

Waste4Fuel siteA court injunction to stop illegal dumping of waste on Green Belt land by Waste4Fuel is being urgently sought by the Council.

The news follows a Planning Sub Committee last night where it was heard that the boundaries of the Waste4Fuel site in Orpington have been breached and rubbish has been dumped to more than a metre high on to adjoining Green Belt land without planning permission.

The Committee also heard that there were further concerns that continued harmful expansion could take place. The Environment Agency legal action at the waste transfer site itself is currently ongoing.

"We are committed to protecting important Green Belt land from illegal fly tipping and will take legal action against those that that commit these offences. The Environment Agency is the licencing authority for the waste transfer site itself and while there have been ongoing issues here, we are determined to halt further unauthorised expansion on to adjoining land, restoring it to its original appearance at the cost of the land owner and will not tolerate dumping" said Councillor Alexa Michael, Chairman of Planning Sub Committee.

Councillor Colin Smith, Executive Councillor for Environment said, "We have always promised that the Council would intervene at the earliest practical opportunity that it could and this action evidences the fact. This black farce needs to end and end now. It is not without a degree of irony that the illegally deposited waste in question now occupies the same site which once hosted the wantonly destroyed 'protected' trees of several years ago. Those responsible need to understand that unlawful activity of this nature simply isn't going be tolerated in our Borough."

The next steps will include applying to the County Court for the injunction, where, if successful, action will be taken to remove the waste and restore the land to its original appearance. The illegal dumped waste has amassed to over a metre high on to the land adjacent to Cornwall Drive and is clearly visible from the surrounding area.

 
07
Apr
2014

Queens Head 2Jo Johnson visited a country pub in the borough to personally congratulate the owner on being awarded CAMRA Pub of the Year.

The Orpington MP discussed the recent Budget with Downe pub owner Nigel Andrews, who runs The Queens Head, High Street.  The Budget supported public houses across the country after Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne cut beer duty by a penny.

Mr Johnson said: "I warmly congratulate Nigel and all who work at The Queen's Head on this richly-deserved recognition.  Pubs play a crucial role in the social life of Orpington and contribute, on average, £100,000 each to the local economy.  I am grateful for Nigel's warm hospitality and strongly urge residents to visit the pub soon."

Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) is a group that supports consumers rights with respect to the beer and drinks industry.

To read the full story, click here

 
07
Apr
2014

Cray Valley Initiative PanelJo attended the inaugural meeting of the Cray Valley Initiative Panel (CVIP) on Friday.  CVIP is an organisation that will drive forward a strategic vision for Cray Valley.  The CVIP was set up under the leadership of Cllr Peter Fortune, alongside chairs from key local organisations. Those members are; the Chairman of the Old St Paul's Cray Village Residents Society, Perry Hall Residents Association, CRA20TEN (representing Cray Valley West), Star Lane Residents Association, Hockenden Lane Residents Association and the St Mary Cray Action Group.  They are also supported by Community Links Bromley which provides a secretariat function.

The CVIP is also responsible for the distribution of funds from Community First.  This Community First fund provides grants to local charities and is designed to increase cohesion and inclusion amongst communities.  Via the CVIP, which accepts the applications and then votes on the where the funds should go, financial support has been directed to projects including a large community festival, an allotment which helps adults with learning difficulties and a local football team – more projects will be funded in the next few weeks.

The CVIP have also forged links with local and national businesses (including British Land who co-funded one of our projects), Affinity Sutton (who are also co-funding some projects) as well as health and policing partners (the CVIP representative from Star Lane was a key lobbyist for both the new CCTV camera and the recent huge clean-ups).  The Chairman of Perry Hall Residents Association has been elected the new CVIP lead.

Jo said: "The regeneration of the Cray Valley is a key priority for Bob Neill and me, and I commend Peter Fortune for his leadership.  I was immensely impressed by the huge array of projects lined-up for the area and I will continue working closely with Bob and Peter to ensure that they come to fruition without delay."

Photo: Jo with (L-R) CVIP member Jacqui Giles, Bromley and Chislehurst MP, Bob Neill, and Cray Valley East councillor, Peter Fortune.  Credit: Keith Larby

For more information on the CVIP, click here

 
07
Apr
2014

Queens HeadJo popped in to The Queens Head in Downe on Friday to have a drink and congratulate owner Nigel Andrews on being awarded "CAMRA Pub of the Year" for Bromley Borough.

Jo discussed the recent Budget, during which the Chancellor, George Osborne, announced that beer duty would be cut by a further penny, meaning that beer is 8p a pint cheaper

than under plans inherited from the previous Government.  This provides the greatest benefit to pubs as 68 per cent of the alcohol sold is beer.  Furthermore, the alcohol duty escalator has been abolished, the duty on ordinary cider and spirits will be frozen this year, while the duty escalator for wine will end.  The Government has also ensured rural rate relief is available to pubs and is doubling small business rate relief from £6,000 to £12,000.

Jo said: "I warmly congratulate Nigel and all who work at The Queen's Head on this richly-deserved recognition.  Pubs play a crucial role in the social life of Orpington and contribute, on average, £100,000 each to the local economy.  I am grateful for Nigel's warm hospitality and strongly urge residents to visit the pub soon."

Photo: Jo with Nigel Andrews outside the Queen's Head.  Credit: Keith Larby

For more information on The Queen's Head, click here

 

 
03
Apr
2014

Cray ValleyAn organisation set up to improve Cray Valley is to celebrate its work at an inaugural meeting tomorrow (Friday April 4).

Cray Valley Initiative Panel (CVIP) was formed to "drive forward a strategic vision" for the area, said Councillor Peter Fortune, a key member behind the collective.

Tomorrow he will sit down to discuss plans with Orpington MP Jo Johnson, as well as members from a number of local residents' associations and action groups - all playing a part.

Cllr Fortune explained the CVIP will be responsible for helping local projects to improve local ameneties - including the distribution of community funds, with the likes of a festival, an allotment and a football team all in the pipeline.

To read the full story, click here

 
25
Mar
2014

St Philomenas window 2A sparkling new stained glass window has been installed at an Orpington school.

North Kent National Association of Decorative and Fine Art Studies (NADFAS) was behind the project, which now brings colour to a staircase at St Philomena's Catholic Primary in Chelsfield Road.

Sally Lerner, of NADFAS, worked alongside Deptford sculptress Maggie Higginson, head teacher Veronica Maher and pupils at the school to produce the artwork.

On Friday March 21 the window was unveiled by Orpington MP Jo Johnson, who said: "This is a wonderful example of the generosity and community spirit of Orpington.

"People of different ages, backgrounds and abilities have come together to make something truly special".

To read the full story, click here

 
24
Mar
2014

St Philomenas windowJo  unveiled a new stained glass window at St Philomena's Primary School on Friday.

North Kent National Association of Decorative & Fine Arts Societies (NADFAS) wanted to give something to young people and inspire them.  Sally Larner of NADFAS selected sculptress Maggie Higginson and worked alongside Veronica Maher, Head of St Philomena's to produce a stained glass window.  The idea was that the children themselves would be involved in the creation of the art form, which they will now enjoy for the rest of their careers at St Philomena's.

On unveiling the new window, Jo said: "This a wonderful example of the generosity and community spirit of Orpington.  People of different ages, backgrounds and abilities have come together to make something truly special – and that is what this school is all about.  Special thanks go to Sally Larner, Margaret Turrell and Jill Barlow of NADFAS, Maggie Higginson, Veronica Maher, and all the teacher and pupils at St Philomena's who made today possible."

Sally Larner said: "All were thrilled to meet Jo Johnson and he certainly charmed all the school children, teachers and NADFAS committee.  It really made the unveiling of the window that extra bit special."

Photo: Jo unveils the new window alongside St Philomena's pupils.  Credit: Keith Larby

For more information on the National Association of Decorative & Fine Arts Societies, click here

 
24
Mar
2014

St Olaves Gavin BensonOrpington MP Jo Johnson visited a local grammar school on Friday after dropping into News Shopper. The mayor's brother in the afternoon addressed the political economy society at St Olave's Grammar School in Goddington Lane.

Mr Johnson talked to youngsters about the state of British politics, next year's general election and last week's budget – while he also took questions from the audience.

It was organised by the society's chair Gavin Benson and the MP said it was a great "to meet so many bright and engaged pupils".

Earlier in the day Mr Johnson sat down with Bromley reporters in News Shopper's Petts Wood office, mentioning town centre developments, the controversial Waste4Fuel site and transport.

He said: "Oprington is not doing too badly – we're starting to see improvements but there's a lot to be done. Town centres are going through a difficult time across the country."

Photo: Jo with St Olave's Gavin Benson

To read the full stoy, click here

 
21
Mar
2014

St Olaves PoliticsJo addressed St. Olave's Political Economy Society earlier today.  He spoke about the state of British politics with one year to go until the next general election, about Wednesday's budget and about what the Government is doing to support young people. 

He also encouraged them to sign up to the new National Citizenship Service and took questions from the audience. The event was organised by the Society's chair, Gavin Benson.

Jo said: "It was great to meet so many bright and engaged pupils - yet another example of how St Olave's is a beacon of academic excellence in the area."

Photo: Jo with Gavin Benson and Head teacher Aydin Onac

 
20
Feb
2014

Bromley College 2One of the country's first career colleges specialising in food and enterprise is on the menu in the borough this year.

Bromley College announced this week it plans to start cooking up a new generation of hospitality professionals at its Orpington campus from September.  The facility will be geared towards getting students into the catering industry, which is then hoped to bring more people to dining tables in the area.

Young people from the age of 14 will be given the opportunity to learn the skills they need to carve out successful careers in the trade, while also continuing study for key GCSEs such as maths and English.

Principal Sam Parrett said the development's "great news" for the borough, adding: "The College's mission to provide real skills and knowledge for the real world can be fully realised with this exciting new development, in which we will train and develop a new generation of rising stars."

Bromley College said students will practice their filleting and slicing at the campus' industrial kitchen, while would-be waiters and waitresses will hone their charm at a new training restaurant in the town centre.

It added hospitality is the third largest sector in the borough and hopes the opening will help businesses flourish – and local figures have come out in support. Jo Johnson, MP for Orpington, said: "Young people with outstanding skills are vital to the future of the hospitality sector and this new college will be a flagship centre in Orpington."

To read the full story, click here

Photo: Jo meets Bromley College students at the Orpington campus last month

 
20
Feb
2014

FloodJohnsonMPBromley borough hasn't escaped the deluge of flooding this month as residents find their properties at risk, rugby pitches submerged and train stations inaccessible.

Hazel Young, of Silver Lane, saw Sparrows Den in West Wickham was more a pond than a playing field at the weekend after persistent rain and rising water levels. The quality assessor said the wind caused her to struggle to stand while taking photos on Saturday – though mentioned how thankful she was to live on a hill.

She said: "It's unbelievable – you feel so sorry for the people affected. You just don't know how long it's going to take to get back to some form of normality.  When you see the pictures it's just horrible. We're lucky we live quite high up here."

Jo Johnson MP waded into the misery at the weekend, visiting flooded Borkwood Court in Orpington alongside a council member to see how residents there are coping with the results of rising groundwater.

Last week Guy Marshall, 44, described how water was "coming out of the walls" and added faeces was seen floating in the courtyard.

MP Johnson said: "This is a worrying situation for those affected and I'm pleased that Bromley Council is taking swift action across the board to help people suffering from the floods and extreme weather."

To read the full story, click here

 
19
Feb
2014

Borkwood beforeHomes in Borkwood Court, off Sevenoaks Road, were left damaged by the recent storms and residents may well find themselves now facing an uphill battle with insurance companies.

Mr Johnson said: "My thoughts are with residents as they try and repair the destruction left by the weather. I want to thank Bromley Council, and in particular Cllr Colin Smith, deputy leader, for their swift response."

The MP met insurance industry leaders last week in Downing Street to discuss how they were helping people affected by floods.

He added: "We had a positive and constructive meeting with the insurance industry on the steps that they are taking to get people back on their feet as quickly as possible after the flooding, which has been a tragedy for all those affected.

"We are continuing to take action across the board to ensure that everything that can be done is being done. Insurers have a critical role to play and by working closely together we will continue to ensure that the help and support which people need is available."

To read the full story, click here

 
19
Feb
2014

Flood insurance meetJo has welcomed the installation of a second pump by Bromley Council at Borkwood Court after his visit to the flooded area.

Jo said: "My thoughts are with residents as they try and repair the destruction left by the weather.  I want to thank Bromley Council, and in particular Cllr Colin Smith, deputy leader of Bromley Council, for their swift response."

Yesterday, Jo met insurance industry leaders in Downing Street to discuss how the industry was helping people affected by the floods.

After the meeting with executives representing 60% of the insurance market, Jo said: "We had a positive and constructive meeting with the insurance industry on the steps that they are taking to get people back on their feet as quickly as possible after the flooding, which has been a tragedy for all those affected.

"We are continuing to take action across the board to ensure that everything that can be done is being done.  Insurers have a critical role to play and by working closely together we will continue to ensure that the help and support which people need is available."

The CEOs of Aviva, Direct Line Group, Axa, Lloyds Banking Group and Ageas, along with the Claims Director of RSA and the Association of British Insurers restated their commitment to maintaining the 2008 Statement of Principles on flood insurance until the guaranteed affordable flood insurance scheme, Flood Re, is delivered in 2015.

The Flood Re scheme was agreed between Government and industry last June. The insurance companies assured Ministers that there has been no evidence of insurers raising premiums for flood risk properties in advance of Flood Re starting in 2015.

Photo: Oliver Letwin, (L) Minister for Government Policy, Jo and insurance industry executives meet at Downing Street to discuss flood response

 
14
Feb
2014

Borkwood floodJo and Cllr Colin Smith, Deputy Leader of Bromley Council, today visited local residents in Borkwood Court, Sevenoaks Road, who are suffering from rising flood water. Following their visit, Jo welcomed Bromley Council's decision to provide a second pump to assist with water drainage and the additional on-site support provided by the London Fire Brigade. 

He said: "This is a worrying situation for those affected and I'm pleased that Bromley Council is taking swift action across the board to help people suffering from the floods and extreme weather"

As well as deploying the military to affected areas, the Government today announced a new £5,000 ‘Repair and Renew’ grant to provide financial support for all homeowners and businesses who have been hit by the floods. The grant will help people build in better flood protection as they repair their homes and businesses. Those businesses which have been affected by the floods will get 100 per cent business rate relief for three months and will get an extra three months to pay the business taxes they owe.

The government has also secured a total commitment in excess of £750 million from the major banks to provide financial support to business and individual customers affected by the floods. 

For more information on how to access grants, click here

 
13
Feb
2014

Bromley College QAA Level students at Bromley College of Further & Higher Education's Orpington Campus were delighted to welcome Jo for Orpington, for a politics Q&A session on Friday 7 February.

Spending time with the Government and Politics A Level students in their class, he got to grips with some tricky questions from the audience, ranging from the state of the economy, to his thoughts on bankers bonuses, the coalition government, and the success of free schools.

Jo said: "It was tremendous fun to meet a number of engaging young students at the Orpington campus and to hear their views on an impressive array of topics.  I was also thrilled to learn more about the plans for a new food and enterprise course.  Young people with outstanding skills are vital to the future of the hospitality sector and this new college will be a flagship centre in Orpington."

Politics A Level student, Jamie Freeman, aged 20, described the Q&A session with Jo Johnson as "really interesting and informative, he answered all our questions with his own views which was great."

Helen Hall, A Level tutor, said: "Jo's visit today provided our students with an invaluable opportunity to ask him some burning questions about politics and government. Their challenging questions covered a wide range of areas and Jo's answers gave them plenty to think about."

For more information on Bromley College, click here

 
07
Feb
2014

RNIB 2Jo visited a local Eye Clinic Liaison Officer (ECLO) to learn more about the vital role they play in supporting people who have recently been told that they will lose their sight.

The ECLO at the Princess Royal Hospital in Orpington is funded through charitable donations and managed by Kent Association for the Blind.

ECLOs provide practical and emotional support, speaking to people who have been newly diagnosed with an eye condition. People who may have been living with sight loss for some years can also visit the ECLO for extra help and advice. ECLOs can offer patients the time that they need, where consultants may not be able to. The visit, organised by the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB), highlights this essential work of ECLOs.

Jo Johnson MP said: "It was terrific to learn about the brilliant work that ECLOs carry out at the PRUH. The service provides essential support to people who have been newly diagnosed and don't know where to turn, and I would strongly encourage people in Orpington with sight issues to contact the eye clinic to learn how they might benefit."

Marie Jenkins, RNIB Regional Campaigns Officer for the South East said: "At RNIB we know that sight loss can have a devastating impact on a person's life. Stepping outside the hospital after first being diagnosed can be the start of a long journey.  Not only are ECLOs vital when it comes to providing emotional support for people at a time which can be extremely daunting, but they can also offer important practical support such as helping people to complete Certificates of Visual Impairment and transferring people to the right social services departments."

Chris Wilsdon, ECLO said: "No one should face sight loss alone. Providing this service is fundamental for the people of Orpington and ensures that everyone who is affected by sight loss has the opportunity to gain the support they need in order to lead fulfilled and meaningful lives."

Not all eye clinics currently have an ECLO who can help support people at the time of sight loss, so the ECLO in Orpington is an excellent example of the benefits of this service.

To find out more about Eye Clinic Liaison Officers, click here  

Photo: Jo with (L-R) King's College Hospital Trust CEO Tim Smart and ECLOs Chris Wilson and Marie Jenkins

 

 
27
Jan
2014

Wadhurst landslip 2MP Jo Johnson has expressed "deep frustration" with the ongoing disruption to services on the Hastings line.

Heavy rain caused a landslip near Wadhurst, East Sussex on December 22, and Network Rail, responsible for maintaining the tracks, said it would take weeks - if not months - to repair the damage.

Mr Johnson said: "The delays have caused unacceptable distress to commuters, particularly because of the withdrawal of half the fast services from Orpington to London.  I have pressed both Southeastern and Network Rail to resolve immediately all outstanding operational issues so that the hardworking people of Orpington are able to rely on and have confidence in the published train service.

"At the same time, I continue to push vigorously for more fast trains to and from Orpington particularly at the peak when commuters have a worse service than the rest of the day. It is high time that residents finally enjoy a high-quality service that reflects the price of their tickets."

A spokesperson for Southeastern said: "We too are frustrated by the ongoing problems with the landslip on the Hastings line. More heavy rain fell last Friday which exasperated the landslip further down the line at Wadhurst.  Network Rail assure us they're doing everything possible to fix the damage. In the meantime we've had to run trains at a reduced speed through Wadhurst and this was having a knock-on effect to the rest of the network.

"This still leaves Orpington customers with 10 off peak trains per hour to London. We'd like to thank our passengers for their patience and understanding."

To read the full story, click here

 
27
Jan
2014

Waste4Fuel visitJo made an unannounced visit on Friday to the Waste4Fuel site in Cornwall Drive, where a large number of fires have caused disruption and air pollution for residents in the Crays.

After visiting the site, Jo said: "It is an intolerable situation and I share the frustration of Crays' residents who have had to put up with this unbearable stench for far too long.  I was able to discuss the situation with the Environment Agency (EA) and the site manager, relaying to both the concerns I have about the failure of this company to comply with a clear order from the High Court.

He continued:  "Waste4Fuel have not made satisfactory progress towards compliance with the High Court Order to remove all combustible waste from the site by 1 May 2014 and must pay urgent attention to the damaging impact that this site is having on the local community.

"Alongside Bob Neill MP, I will continue to push hard for urgent enforcement of the court order alongside colleagues in Westminster and Bromley Council."

Photo: Jo inspects site with Environment Agency officers

 

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