East Surrey was on top form for the Coronation! I started the celebrations at the Woldingham Barn Dance, followed by a beautiful outdoor service led by Revd Nicholas Calver at St Mary in Horne the next morning, then over to Warlingham’s Coronation picnic with Cllr Robin Bloore where it was great to sneak a half of Titsey Brew – and was almost blinded by the brilliance of Cllr Jeremy Pursehouse’s technicolour blazer.
Then I headed to Whyteleafe’s daisy-strewn celebrations supported by the Caterham Rotary Club and the Whyteleafe Community Hub before rounding off the day with a commemorative tree planting in Horley.
Everywhere I went I saw people coming together thanks to the efforts of those who dedicate their lives to spreading joy. I am so proud to represent an area with such wonderful community spirit.
Lots of you have been writing to me about poor delivery service from Royal Mail, particularly for addresses in and around Caterham. I’ve been speaking to Royal Mail leadership over many months on this issue to seek clarity on what exactly is causing such severe delays and when we can expect to see better service.
I admire the hard work of our postal workers, and I know they are working as hard as they can in difficult circumstances. But they need to be properly supported by Royal Mail. I have recently sent two letters to the leadership of Royal Mail, and I will update you with their response in my next update.
Another issue that many of you raise with me is access to local health services. 90% of our contact with the NHS is through our GPs, so I was delighted to see the Prime Minister announce an important new plan to free up 15 million GP appointments over the next two years, including right here in East Surrey.
The plan includes ending the 8am rush to get an appointment by introducing modern queuing systems over the phone, allowing pharmacists to dispense prescription-only medicine for common illnesses such as sore throats, earaches and UTIs, and making it easier to self-refer where it is safe to do so, for example for eye consultations or hearing aid provision.
We have a new Chief Constable of Surrey Police, Tim De Meyer, and I recently joined him at a meeting with our Police and Crime Commissioner, Lisa Townsend, and MPs from across Surrey to discuss the priorities of our residents.
I was encouraged by his back-to-basics approach to policing, with a no-fuss approach to serving victims tirelessly and pursuing criminals relentlessly. I thanked him for his officers’ work to reassure the community following the tragic dog attack in Caterham, and I was able to raise my constituents’ concerns about the rise of keyless car theft, the theft of catalytic converters and agri-theft.
I also voiced my concerns that up to 70% of officers’ time is taken up on care and mental health crises. We have more police officers in Surrey than ever before, but we need to make sure they are able to focus on their core responsibility of tackling crime.
Finally, I was extremely disappointed to see that the Mayor of London and TfL are considering scrapping Day Travelcards from Surrey, which could cost residents hundreds of pounds a year in extra train and underground costs. There is a consultation on the TfL website, and I would encourage you to have your say and make it clear how devastating this would be for residents getting the train up from Surrey.