As we head into summer, I wanted to start by addressing the recent inflation figures. I know many of you will be worried about your mortgages and family finances.
The Chancellor has agreed a new Mortgage Charter with the nation’s largest lenders. Anyone worried about repayments can contact their lender for help and guidance from highly trained advisors without any impact on their credit file. Customers who are up to date with their payments can switch to a new deal at the end of their fix without another affordability check.
Signatories to the charter, including Barclays, Natwest, Lloyds, Nationwide, HSBC and Santander, have agreed to go further – with extra protections for homeowners at risk of repossessions and extra chances for customers to lock in fixed-rate deals up to six months ahead of fix coming to an end. They have also agreed to allow customers who are up to date to switch to interest-only payments for six months or extend their term to reduce their monthly payments.
Although it will remain a challenge, these steps will give homeowners a little more breathing space. We are also making sure we remain focused on your priorities, including with the National Health Service – where we have reduced the number of patients waiting over 18 months by more than 90 per cent.
Our 15-year plan to train and retain more NHS staff is the largest expansion of workforce training in the history of the NHS. It will make it easier for staff to move from classroom to clinic, and mean that we train more of our own doctors rather than relying on attracting talented people from overseas. This will secure the future of the NHS and make sure it can continue to look after our children and grandchildren.
Locally, the summer season is well and truly here, which means looking ahead to the many wonderful fairs, fetes and summer festivities that get us all out enjoying the warm weather.
I’ve already judged floats at the Horley Carnival and the dog show at the Limpsfield Chart Fair (for the third year running) – and over the Summer I’ll be looking forward to meeting local farmers at the Edenbridge & Oxted Agricultural Show. I hope to see lots of you out and about in the coming weeks and months.
If you’re looking for things to do with your children or grandchildren this summer, Godstone Farm has just opened their gigantic new soft play barn. I joined their opening event and it was clear that Nickie and the team have worked so hard to get everything up and running.
I know how much children enjoy meeting all of their animals and now they’ll be able to enjoy the slides, tunnels and obstacles as much as I did – just in time for the school holidays.
Another fantastic local businesses had an opening event recently – the Titsey Brewing Co. I had the honour of cutting the ribbon for their new taproom, which sits atop the North Downs Way with stunning views of the rolling hills.
Guy and John have poured their heart and soul into the space, which is now open and serving hot food – and head brewer Craig Vroom has played a blinder with gorgeous ales and lagers that are produced on-site. Do make sure you pop in if you’re nearby to support this fab local business.
It’s now been a year since I launched my Friendship Project, so in July I organised a summer party to bring together the community groups, charities and volunteers that work so hard to tackle loneliness in East Surrey.
You might have seen in the news recently that loneliness is worse for your heart than having a poor diet or a lack of exercise, so it was wonderful to see everyone getting to know each other over a cup of tea and a scone. I couldn’t have done it without the kindness and generosity of Peter Chan of Herons Bonsai and the culinary delights of Sheila’s Café in Horley.
We’ve now raised thousands of pounds thanks to the generosity of our donors and we’ll soon be distributing the first of our grants. If you help to run a community group and you’d like to apply, do get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll send you all the details you need.