Alcock & Brown (2)


Group Captain Tony Alcock MBE, nephew of the flying hero Sir John Alcock, came to Crayford yesterday evening (16 April) to launch the Summer Centenary celebrations of the first and epic Trans-Atlantic flight in June 1919 by Alcock and Brown. He spoke about his uncle John and gave an interesting illustrated talk about Alcock and Brown and their successful flight from Newfoundland to Ireland.

The aviators Alcock and Brown flew across the Atlantic on 14/15 June 1919 in a modified Vickers Vimy plane originally built by Vickers in Crayford and tested at Joyce Green airfield. Sir John Alcock, pilot, and Sir Arthur Whitten Brown, navigator, visited Crayford in July 1919.

The Alcock and Brown Project Group (Crayford) has been led by their Chair, Cllr. Geraldene Lucia-Hennis, and the Secretary and Treasurer, Janet Hearn-Gillan, and they have organised a programme of events and activities in Crayford throughout the summer. They have been supported by a wide range of local historical and community groups, as well as the Lottery Heritage Fund and Bexley Council.

The Host at the event was Cllr. Geraldene Lucia-Hennis and among the many guests were Rt. Hon. Sir David Evennett MP and Lady Evennett, the Deputy Lieutenant of Bexley Major David Hewer OBE TD DL, the Mayor and Mayoress of Bexley, Cllr. Brian Bishop and Cllr. Christine Bishop, the Mayor and Mayoress of Dartford, Bexley Council Leader, Cllr. Teresa O’Neill OBE, and Cllr. Eileen Pallen. There were refreshments and memorabilia, including a model of the aircraft to enjoy, as well as the opportunity to chat with Group Captain Tony Alcock MBE.


Evennett shocked and appalled at potential Southeastern extension


IMG_1527.JPGRt Hon Sir David Evennett, MP for Bexleyheath and Crayford, has expressed his shock and disappointment at today’s announcement (10 April) from the Department for Transport (DfT) that negotiations are taking place for a further extension to the current rail franchise. This could see Southeastern continuing to run services until 10 November 2019, with an option to extend the agreement further to April 2020.

Sir David commented: “I am shocked and appalled that we are potentially seeing yet another delay in awarding the new franchise. This is simply unacceptable.

“In Bexley we suffer from a terrible rail service at the hands of Southeastern, with delays and cancellations occurring far too often. There is much to look forward to in the new franchise agreement, but improvements are desperately needed now, not later this year or in 2020.

“I have worked with colleagues locally, held Parliamentary debates, submitted written questions, made various representations to Ministers, and secured Ministerial visits, and am bitterly disappointed this appears to be happening again. The Secretary of State is well aware of our problems in South East London and is letting us down badly. I will continue to fight for better rail services on behalf of my constituents and fellow rail users.”

Evennett visits Danson House to celebrate Tourism Week


Rt Hon Sir David Evennett, MP for Bexleyheath and Crayford, paid a visit to Danson House this afternoon (5 April) to help celebrate English Tourism Week and to promote the historic site.

This is the eighth year English Tourism week has run and the aim is to raise the profile and showcase the benefits of the tourism industry to local communities and the economy. Tourism is one of England’s largest and most valuable industries. English tourism directly employ more than 2.6m people and generates over £106bn a year for the British economy.

Sir David was greeted by Anna Strange-Bennett and Jane Collins then given a tour of Danson House and learned about the restoration works and history. They are pictured in the old kitchen, which was the location of the mud bath scene in The Favourite – the film that Olivia Colman won the Oscar and Golden Globe for her portrayal of Queen Anne.

Earlier this week, Sir David also joined the Tourism Minister, Michael Ellis MP, in Parliament for a drop-in session in aid of English Tourism Week and to meet with representatives of the national tourist board VisitBritain/VisitEngland, to hear about the opportunities tourism presents for the economy.

Sir David served as the Minister for Tourism in 2016 and commented: “English Tourism Week is a fantastic opportunity to highlight the many attractions on offer, such as Danson House. I have visited Danson House on many occasions and was here for the reopening in 2005, but I was amazed to discover new facts today and to learn about the restoration works. I would encourage all of my constituents to pay a visit.”

Evennett welcomes extra capital funding for local schools

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Rt Hon Sir David Evennett, MP for Bexleyheath and Crayford, has welcomed the funding schools in the constituency have received as part of the Condition Improvement Fund (CIF).

The Department for Education received requests for more than £1.4bn for projects in this year’s round and following the assessment of applications have given funding to 1,413 projects at 1,210 academies and sixth-form colleges. CIF projects range in value from £20,000 up to £4m and the average amount awarded is just over £300,000. The successful schools in Bexleyheath and Crayford were:

  • Gravel Hill Primary School
  • St Pauls (Slade Green) Church of England Primary School
  • St Michael’s East Wickham Church of England Primary School
  • Barrington Primary School
  • Normandy Primary School
  • Townley Grammar School

Sir David commented: “the Government is providing significant funds across the country for schools to maintain and renew their facilities. There were a large number of applications to the CIF this year and it is brilliant news that six schools in my constituency have been successful in their bids for funding.”

Evennett calls for increase in FE Funding

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© Parliamentary Recording Unit

Rt Hon Sir David Evennett, MP for Bexleyheath and Crayford, participated in a Westminster Hall debate yesterday (2 April) on Further Education Funding.

The debate was secured by the Conservative MP Gloucester, Richard Graham, who called on the Government to do more to help colleges provide the skills young people need for themselves and for the country.

Sir David, who himself previously taught in an FE college, highlighted the fact that despite funding pressures, 81% of FE establishments were rated as good or outstanding at the last further education and skills inspections. He also mentioned the Bexley campus of London South East Colleges. He commented: “All Members here today will have some fantastic colleges and sixth forms in their area. In Bexley, we are fortunate to have a campus of London South East Colleges, which my right hon. Friend the Minister for Apprenticeships and Skills visited last year. She toured the campus, met students, apprentices and tutors and observed a number of lessons and activities. The college appreciated the visit, as it enabled it to showcase the outstanding work done by students, the facilities, and the plans to help upskill people in our area.”

Sir David concluded his speech by stating he hoped “the debate will give more ammunition to my right hon. Friend the Minister in her campaign with the Treasury, to ensure that we get the extra funding we need for the FE sector. Education funding at all levels should, of course, be seen as a necessary investment for our country and should be increased, but FE colleges in particular should be a priority.”

Bexley Regional Final of Jack Petchey’s Challenge

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© Tony Preece
Yesterday evening (28 March) St Catherine’s Roman Catholic School in Bexleyheath hosted the Bexley Regional Final of the Jack Petchey’s “Speak Out” Challenge. The event was in collaboration with the Speakers Trust.

The “Speak Out” Challenge! offers all state schools in London and Essex the opportunity to train Year 10 students in the art of public speaking. Through a knock out process the best speakers are identified to go on to an inter-school competition for the chance to be Regional Champion.

The “Speak Out” Challenge! is the largest youth speaking event in the world, in which around 18,000 teenagers are trained every year in over 550 schools. The main aim of this is to give them better life chances, to increase their confidence and improve their employability. This is the thirteenth year the Jack Petchey Foundation has funded the initiative.

Among those attending last night was Rt Hon Sir David Evennett, MP for Bexleyheath and Crayford. Sir David is pictured with the winner of the Bexley Regional Final, God’s Favour Oluwanusin, who studies at Bexley Grammar School. At the end of May, 15 Regional Champions will be selected at the Semi Final to compete at the Grand Final and in July the 15 Grand Finalists will speak on a stage to an audience of over 1,000 people.

Sir David commented: “I am pleased to be able attend and present the awards at the Bexley final of the Jack Petchey’s Speak Out Challenge, and to be able speak myself. All contributions from the participants were of a very high calibre. They were very impressive, confident and covered a wide-range of interesting issues. Congratulations to God’s Favour on being crowned the winner and I wish him luck at the semi-finals and hopefully the final as well”

Evennett supports 2019 Parliamentary launch of the Great Daffodil Appeal

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Rt Hon Sir David Evennett, MP for Bexleyheath and Crayford, attended the Parliamentary launch of Marie Curie’s Great Daffodil Appeal.

The appeal was launched in 1986 and is held annually in March. It is crucial in raising much-needed funds to enable the charity to continue to provide nursing and hospice care, fund research and campaign on behalf of everyone affected by terminal illness.

Sir David was joined by actor Stephen Mangan and Rapid Response Healthcare Assistant Patricia McDonnell at the parliamentary event to celebrate the launch.

Sir David commented: “I am pleased to be able to show my support for the Great Daffodil Appeal and hope people across the country will get involved to help fund vital care and support for the charity. The money raised from the Appeal will help Marie Curie be there for even more people living with any terminal illness such as terminal cancer, dementia, heart failure, and motor neurone disease.”

Mr Mangan said: “I experienced first-hand the difference they make when they cared for both my mum and later, my dad at home. Chances are, we all know someone who’s been affected by a terminal illness. That’s why I’m delighted to be here with Sir David to help launch Marie Curie’s annual Great Daffodil Appeal.

“Whether its worn in celebration, in solidarity or in memory of a loved one, by donating and wearing a daffodil pin during March, you and thousands of others in Bexley will help make sure thousands more dying people get the care and support they deserve.”

Westminster Hall Debate on Rail Services in South East London

Rt Hon Sir David Evennett, MP for Bexleyheath and Crayford, secured a Westminster Hall Debate on Rail Services in South East London yesterday (7 March). He was supported in the debate by Parliamentary colleagues Gareth Johnson MP, Rt Hon Sir Michael Fallon MP, Teresa Pearce MP, Clive Efford MP, and Matthew Pennycook MP.

A transcript of the debate can be read at: https://hansard.parliament.uk/commons/2019-03-06/debates/FCBC4F34-9A83-4C48-ACEF-9A6409B2CD5F/RailServicesSouth-EastLondon

Sir David commented on the debate in Politics Home, and a copy of his article is below:

On the one hand, I am delighted to have secured a debate in Westminster Hall on Rail Services in South East London, but on the other it is a great shame there is a such a desperate need to raise the same issues again in Parliament.

My constituency of Bexleyheath and Crayford, and Bexley Borough as a whole, are entirely dependent on Southeastern Rail in order to travel into Central London. We suffer a terrible rail service, with cancellations and delays the norm, and we have no viable alternative due to having no underground services whatsoever.

We have been blighted with signalling issues at Lewisham causing more misery for commuters, with delays and cancellations lasting from the mornings well into the evenings. I recently met with representatives from Network Rail, who confirmed the signalling problems at Lewisham and advised of the works that would be done to go towards rectifying this; however, these are not scheduled until this Easter with further works scheduled to take place over Easter 2020 as well. Rail users deserve better and need action now.

Our trains are constantly delayed, even if it is by a couple of minutes, and to highlight this just 72% of people were satisfied with the punctuality of services in the 2018 Rail Passenger Survey. It is true that many of the delays are the fault of Network Rail, but Southeastern often use this as an excuse for the poor service overall and their inability to act, have any contingency plans in place, or provide simple information to customers on why the train is delayed, is quite frankly appalling.

Many of my constituents have also been incredibly disappointed at the continuing delays in awarding the new franchise for our area.

The proposals in the new franchise agreement give some real positives to look forward to, including making sure the new operator and Network Rail work closer together, improved delay repay, tougher demands on reliability, more frequent services to Charing Cross, and direct services to Abbey Wood from Bexleyheath and Sidcup – which will eventually link to Crossrail. However, no decision has yet been made, and just like the train service we have seen delay after delay. The new franchise needs to be decided urgently by the Department for Transport.

Of course, the delay to Crossrail was a major blow for the capital, but particularly for South East London. The fault of this lies at the feet of the Mayor of London and TfL, who have serious questions to answer as we still don’t have a definitive opening date. Crossrail will undoubtedly transform the services in our area and shall finally provide a viable alternative for rail users. Furthermore, I have always hoped that when the line opens plans could be looked at to extend the service through Bexley to Ebbsfleet. The Crossrail to Ebbsfleet Partnership (C2E) have highlighted the many benefits of an extension, including unlocking 55,000 new homes and 50,000 new jobs across the sub-region. The delays to Crossrail are holding our area back from regeneration and economic growth.

I have had countless meetings, discussions and written communications with the Secretary of State for Transport, Rt Hon Chris Grayling MP, to highlight the issues with the rail service across South East London, but we have not yet seen any progress despite continued increases in costs of fares and an increase in frustration of railway users. We need, and deserve, the better rail services in South East London and North-West Kent that our constituents demand.

Evennett gets behind World Book Day 2019

David Evennett WBD-006 © World Book Day.jpgRt Hon Sir David Evennett, MP for Bexleyheath and Crayford, attended a Parliamentary event on Tuesday (5 March), to show his support for World Book Day 2019.

This will be the 22nd year there has been a World Book Day and this year it takes place on 7 March. It is the world’s biggest campaign to provide every child and young person in the country with a book of their own, and the main aim to encourage children to read and enjoy books. World Book Day is a registered charity that will be sending schools packs of book tokens and resource packs that are filled with ideas, activities and display information about how to get involved.

Sir David is pictured holding his favourite book, Kim by Rudyard Kipling, along with two of the books being promoted this year by World Book Day. Sir David commented: “I am delighted to be able to show my support for World Book Day in Parliament this week. Improving literacy is vitally important for boosting life chances and even spending just 10 minutes a day reading with a child can make a significant difference. Reading is also a great way to escape and I would encourage all of my constituents to take part.”