Greg attended the second annual Tunbridge Wells chess tournament, sponsored by Savills, which attracted two International Grand Masters and two International Masters, as well as one of the most promising young players in the UK, nine year old Shreyas Royal.
A total of 84 players took part in the tournament which was held over two days at The Tunbridge Wells Bridge Club and is also the home of the Chess Club.
The Open Tournament was won by local club player, International Grand Master John Emms, a former England Olympiad Team Captain.
Greg was delighted to officially open a new outdoor classroom at Goudhurst & Kilndown CE Primary School.
The new building called 'The Hide', along with a beautiful re-landscaped pond will enhance the children's outdoor studies.
"There are not many schools that can boast of such fantastic facilities. It's really important that children learn about the natural world and this new building and pond will enable pupils to get close-up to nature through activities like pond dipping."
The new facilities at the school have been supported by the Co-op, HushHeath Winery and Tesco.
Greg visited a leading supplier of hospital furniture in the UK – Ocura Healthcare – which is based in Paddock Wood.
After the visit, Greg said:
"I was really impressed by Ocura Healthcare – they are very innovative, both in terms of the development of their products and in how they are intending to adapt and grow their business.
"Most people don't really consider the furniture when they visit a hospital but it's really important that it is well designed – for the comfort of patients and to help staff."
Greg visited Mascalls Academy in Paddock Wood to find out more about The Scholars Programme – a national scheme which gives school pupils from under-represented backgrounds an opportunity to experience university-style learning and encourage them to apply to university.
The programme recruits, trains and places PhD researchers in non-selective state schools to deliver university-style tutorials based on their own research to small groups of pupils. The young people taking part also receive information, advice and guidance about university life and making a successful application.
"It was great to visit Mascalls Academy today and meet pupils taking part in The Scholars Programme. They were very enthusiastic about the subject they have been studying and I was really impressed by how the programme has expanded their horizons in terms of their future plans.
"I would definitely encourage more schools to give their pupils the chance to benefit from this programme."
The Scholars Programme is run by The Brilliant Club - a charity that exists to increase the number of pupils from under-represented backgrounds progressing to highly-selective universities. More details can be found on their website: http://www.thebrilliantclub.org/
Greg, along with his neighbouring MP for Tonbridge & Malling Tom Tugendhat, officially opened a new offroad cycle path which provides a brand new link between Tonbridge and Tunbridge Wells along the route of the A21. The new cyclepath links to Tunbridge Wells via North Farm Industrial Estate and Pembury Hospital. There is an existing cyclepath along the Pembury Road into the centre of the town.
"This new offroad cycle path is a fantastic opportunity for people to cycle to work or for leisure. It's a great addition to the local cycle network."
"We campaigned hard to have a cyclepath as part of the A21 dualling scheme and also that it should include links at either end to Tonbridge Station and Pembury Hospital. These links were crucial for it to be a successful commuting route for cyclists so I pressed Highways England to fund the two links and they agreed to do so.
"It's initiatives like this that encourage people to get on their bikes rather than use the car so I'm delighted to see the route finally open."
After the official opening, Greg along with Tom Tugendhat, local councillors and members of local cycling groups, undertook an informal bike ride along the new cyclepath.
Greg cycled the new route on an electric bike loaned from Cycling Made Easy shop on St John's Road, Tunbridge Wells.
Commenting on his ride, Greg said:
"In spite of the rain, we had a brilliant time riding the new cyclepath. There were people on tandems, on electric bikes and with young children in trailers. It's only a couple of miles long so very commutable. I really enjoyed using an electric bike – especially up the hills! We need to get the word out so that people know it's there and might consider cycling between Tunbridge Wells and Tunbridge, instead of jumping in the car."
A pedestrian/cycle counter, using the latest technology, has been installed on the route which will automatically record the number of users.
Greg was delighted to help launch a new initiative during Mental Health Awareness Week which aims to promote positive mental health and wellbeing in Tunbridge Wells.
"One in four people will experience poor mental health at some point in their lives and it can be a very isolating experience. Anything we can do to help raise awareness is a good thing so I'm delighted to support the BE;ME campaign."
As well as raising awareness, the BE;ME – BE TOGETHER encourages us to take time from our busy schedules for relationships. The Teacup Campaign highlights the positive impact social connection can have people's emotional wellbeing. Taking time for a cuppa and a chat can help to support those who may be struggling with their own mental health.
The special BE;ME teacups will be used in local cafes.
BE;ME – BE TOGETHER is a joint initiative between Tunbridge Wells Borough Council and Royal Tunbridge Wells Together supported by local businesses, charities, voluntary and community groups.
To find out more about the campaign and how to get involved look on the Royal Tunbridge Wells Together website: http://www.tunbridgewellstogether.co.uk/
Greg was delighted to officially open the new Tunbridge Wells Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) centre which is now based in the Town & Country Housing Group offices in Monson Road.
"Our town is very proud to have one of the oldest Citizens Advice Bureaus in the country. It originally opened in September 1939 and operated out of a horse box!
"It's great that the Bureau has moved back into the centre of town – providing easy access for clients. Last year, Tunbridge Wells Citizens Advice helped 5,500 clients which is around 1 in 20 people in the Borough. This physical presence is very important as many people benefit from face-to-face help and advice.
"I would like to thank all the staff, trustees and volunteers for everything that they do to help local residents."
New state-of-the-art double-decker cycle parking has just been installed at High Brooms Station to make it possible for commuters and other rail passengers to cycle to the station.
"More people will be able to cycle to High Brooms Station if they are guaranteed secure and easy cycle parking so the installation of these new double-decker cycle racks is great news. I have been campaigning for better cycle parking at our stations and I would like to thank both Southeastern and Kent County Council – who jointly funded the project – for getting this new cycle parking built."
Greg met with Kent County Council and Horsmonden Parish Council to discuss road safety improvements that are planned for a crossroads in the centre of Horsmonden village which has experienced a recent spate of serious accidents.
"There have been 4 serious accidents in the last 9 months involving cars not stopping at the junction of a crossroads in the middle of Horsmonden village. Heath Stores has captured all of them on their CCTV – I am absolutely horrified by the footage. Understandably local residents are extremely concerned about this and I, along with the parish council and other local councillors, have been pressing Kent Highways to install more warning signs and road markings. It is great that this work is now going ahead and I very much hope it has the desired effect."
The planned improvements are:
- Increased and more visible signage to warn drivers that a crossroads is ahead
- Better road markings
- High friction surfacing each side of the crossroads
The works are planned to take place at the end of May.
Greg has responded positively to the consultation on Kent & Medway's Stroke Review which proposes a radical overhaul of local stroke services.
The proposal is to open three hyper-acute specialist stroke units across the county operating 24 hours a day, 365 day a year. Apart from emergency treatment, the new stroke units would also provide specialist rehabilitation which is vitally important for patients' long-term recovery and transient ischaemic attack (TIA) – "mini-stroke" – clinics operating 7 days a week.
Five options for the location of the specialist stroke units are proposed in the consultation.
"Stroke is the leading cause of death and disability in the UK – there are around 32,000 stroke-related deaths in England each year and 3,000 patients are treated for stroke each year in Kent & Medway hospitals so it is a very important health issue for us all.
"Successful treatment relies on speed – the shorter the time between the stroke and treatment, the greater the chance of reducing damage to brain tissue. The medical saying goes "time lost is brain lost".
"Establishing hyper-acute specialist stroke units operating 24/7 has been applied years ago in other countries, with great success, and more recently in other parts of the UK so I strongly support the proposal to set up three specialist stroke units across Kent & Medway.
"Looking at the options presented in the consultation, the best travel times are provided by Option D which includes Medway Maritime, William Harvey and Tunbridge Wells hospitals. As this option also comes out top in terms of the quality of care assessment, I think it offers the greatest potential for improving local stroke services.
"There is no question that these improvements are needed and I have urged the NHS authorities to implement the changes as quickly as possible once a final decision has been taken."
Greg attended the second annual Tunbridge Wells chess tournament, sponsored by Savills, which...
Greg was delighted to officially open a new outdoor classroom at Goudhurst & Kilndown CE Primary...
Greg visited a leading supplier of hospital furniture in the UK – Ocura Healthcare – which is...
Greg visited Mascalls Academy in Paddock Wood to find out more about The Scholars Programme – a...