Biggin Hill News: Orpington's 'eyes and ears' in No. 10

Jo Johnson's elevation to head of the Conservative policy unit means Orpington has "eyes and ears in no 10", the MP has said.  Speaking to this newspaper at Portcullis House last week, Mr Johnson revealed he has been kept busy with around 5,000 pieces of constituency casework since taking office three years ago.  He insisted he remains "fully committed" to local residents, despite his recent promotion to the rank of Cabinet Office minister.

The London mayor's brother told how his mailbox is filled with letters about crime, immigration and health.  On the subject of the local economy he said Orpington was "doing better than most high streets across the country", adding that he was particularly looking forward to a new cinema being opened in the town.  Miller Developments will build and open a 50,000 sq ft development in Orpington, to include a seven-screen multiplex cinema, three restaurants and four large retail units.  "Orpington has reason to be very optimistic," he said.

Mr Johnson also revealed how he thought "long and hard" before voting in favour of gay marriage, contrary to the borough's two other Conservative MPs.  He said: "I recognise there are strong feelings on the issue but I believe in 10 or 15 years this will be a settled part of our social fabric.  "We'll look back on it and wonder what all the fuss was about."

The MP promised to keep a close eye on developments at the local health service, saying the PRUH could "only improve" under a proposed tie up with King's College Hospital.

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