Statement on Labour Mayor of London’s plans to decriminalise drug use in Bexley

Rt Hon Sir David Evennett MP and Cllr Peter Fortune AM

Rt Hon Sir David Evennett MP (Bexleyheath and Crayford), Louie French MP (Old Bexley and Sidcup), Cllr Peter Fortune AM (GLA representative for Bexley and Bromley) and Cllr Teresa O’Neill OBE (Leader of Bexley Council) have issued a joint statement following reports that the Labour Mayor of London intends to weaken drugs laws in Bexley:

“We are appalled to learn today through the media that the Labour Mayor of London plans to impose on Bexley a policy of decriminalising drugs, without any discussion with the Council Leader, Assembly Member, Members of Parliament, or indeed any resident.

We strongly opposed the Mayor of London’s decision to axe Bexley’s Borough police force and merge it with Lewisham and Greenwich, which has meant that our residents lose out as valuable resources are concentrated in areas with higher levels of crime, and yet again the Mayor is showing he doesn’t care about our residents or what they want.

We now stand together in saying that we do not support any weakening of drugs laws and we do not want our borough to be a guinea pig for this policy – and nor do Bexley residents.”

Evennett guests at Belvedere Tory Club

Pictured with Chairwoman of the Club, Pat Alliston

Yesterday evening (18 November), Rt Hon Sir David Evennett, MP for Bexleyheath and Crayford and Vice Chairman of the Conservative Party, was the guest speaker at the Priory Conservative Club in Upper Belvedere. It was not a political event, and was instead a light hearted view of politics and Sir David’s experience as a politician.

Sir David spoke about his life, career before politics and told anecdotes about his time in Parliament. In particular, he reminisced about his time during the Thatcher years and working under David Cameron. Following his speech, Sir David took questions from guests.

The Club will be making a donation to Sir David’s chosen charity, the Greenwich and Bexley Community Hospice.

Evennett backs “positive and constructive Budget”

Rt Hon Sir David Evennett, MP for Bexleyheath and Crayford and Vice Chairman of the Conservative Party, warmly welcomed the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s (Rt Hon Rishi Sunak MP) Autumn Budget and Spending Review in the House of Commons yesterday.

Mr Sunak outlined the Government’s plans to help working families meet the cost of living, support businesses’ recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, deliver world-class public services, and drive economic growth across the country.

Speaking in the House of Commons yesterday, Sir David focused on the commitments on supporting businesses and boosting skills. Businesses will benefit from a range of new measures, including a 50% cut in business rates next year for 90% of retail, hospitality and leisure, which is alongside a freeze of all rates. The Chancellor also announced the creation of new business rates relief to encourage green technologies and improvements to properties and a doubling of creative industries tax reliefs for the UK’s world-leading theatres, orchestras, museums and galleries.

Among other measures to drive economic growth, overall skills spending will increase 42%, equating to £3.8 billion, over the course of the Parliament. This includes more hours learning for 16 to 19-year-olds, including those who are taking T-levels, more traineeships, building institutes of technology to help to close skills gaps in key STEM areas; funding the lifetime skills guarantee; upgrading the further education college estate, quadrupling the number of places in skills bootcamps. Funding for apprenticeships will also increase to a record £2.7 billion by 2024-25.

Sir David concluded his speech by commenting:

“I am pleased to give this Budget my full support. My right hon. Friend the Chancellor has struck the right balance between improving public services, supporting businesses, upskilling individuals and looking at the public finances. He has delivered a positive and constructive Budget that is good for our country. I think I can do no better than quote my right hon. Friend’s concluding sentence, when he said: “This Budget builds a stronger economy for the British people.”

Evennett holds Westminster Hall debate on Public Health Funding for Bexley

© Parliamentary Recording Unit

Earlier today (26 October), Rt Hon Sir David Evennett, Member of Parliament for Bexleyheath and Crayford and Vice Chairman of the Conservative Party, secured a Westminster Hall debate on Public Health funding in Bexley. During the debate, Sir David called for “the unfairness in the public health funding formula to be looked at and addressed”.

Sir David expressed concern that Bexley receives the lowest Public Health Grant of the 32 London Boroughs and his view “that Bexley’s public health funding does not reflect its current population, public health needs or its ambitions to reduce health inequality”. He praised the “excellent leadership on Bexley Council”, particularly the political leadership under Cllr Teresa O’Neill OBE, and highlighted how he and Cllr O’Neill “are working very hard to persuade the Government that they need to look at the formula for public health funding for outer London boroughs such as Bexley”.

Sir David and Bexley Council both acknowledge and welcome the real-terms increase in the Public Health grant allocations nationally for 2021-22; however, he commented that “the main hindrance to Bexley is that the allocations granted remain largely dependent on historical patterns of spend before local authorities took over responsibility for public health”. He concluded by commenting that “this historic funding issue needs to be addressed so that we can be a lead on the challenges we have today, and those we face ahead. Bexley Council is innovative, takes the initiative and leads in many fields”.

The debate was answered by the Minister for Vaccines and Public Health, Maggie Throup MP, who agreed to having a meeting with Sir David and Cllr O’Neill to discuss the issues further.

Sir David with the Minister, Maggie Throup MP, following the debate

David pays tribute to James in the House of Commons

© Parliamentary Recording Unit

In the House of Commons yesterday (20 October), Members of Parliament held a minutes silence and then paid tribute to Rt Hon James Brokenshire, who tragically passed away on 7 October with lung cancer. Among the tributes, Rt Hon Sir David Evennett, MP for Bexleyheath and Crayford, said:

I would like to pay my tribute to my friend and parliamentary neighbour, James Brokenshire. He was a hard-working, efficient and effective Minister, and a strong champion for his constituents in Old Bexley and Sidcup.

During the past decade, I have been privileged to really get to know James and to work closely with him on so many issues and campaigns on behalf of our borough of Bexley. He was serious in his work, but he had a great sense of humour, which we experienced at many Bexley social occasions. We will miss him at all such future occasions.

James was a devoted husband and father. I pay special tribute to his wife Cathy, who gave such great support to James in so many ways over so many years. We are grateful to you, Cathy, and the family, for all that you have done in Bexley while James was a Member of Parliament.

James was a devout Christian and a man of honour and integrity who will be sorely missed locally and in Parliament. Our country has lost a great public servant, and in Bexley we have lost a real friend and an excellent Member of Parliament. We thank you, James, for all that you have done. We will always remember you with pride, love and affection, aware of all your commitments to causes that we must continue to support and develop in memory of a great man.

Evennett pays tribute to Sir David Amess

10 Conservative MPs who were first elected to Parliament in June 1983, including Sir David Amess and Sir David Evennett

Yesterday (18 October), Rt Hon Sir David Evennett MP paid tribute to his friend and colleague, Sir David Amess, in the House of Commons chamber. Sir David said:

David was indeed a great character, with a fantastic sense of humour, and I am honoured to have been able to call him my friend. So much has already been said about him that I do not want to do a repetition. We were both elected to Parliament for the first time in 1983 with small majorities, became firm friends during the 1980s, and shared an office until 1987 in Abbey Gardens. We also shared staff for a while. In those days the House of Commons sat very late, and I was fortunate enough to get to know David really well during that time. Cheerfulness and dedication were his hallmarks throughout his parliamentary career. As for his boundless energy, well, many of us could not keep up. When he took us canvassing and campaigning in Basildon, we certainly could not keep up.

Working in the office with David was quite an experience —we have already heard about the “menagerie” of things that were in his office—but he was also never backward in coming forward. I remember going to a No. 10 reception on the first occasion after we had been elected. Of course, I was in awe of every Prime Minister—including the current one, of course—but Margaret Thatcher was the Prime Minister then. I cannot do her accent, but “Ah,” she said, putting her head on one side, “the two Davids!” I just said, “Prime Minister, lovely to be here”, and all the rest of it, but David Amess said, “I have never been here before—can you do me a tour?” At that moment, I wished I had quietly died, but she said, “Yes, I will come and get you later.” And she did! We had a tour. Then she said, “I am going to take you upstairs to show you the flat.” She said, “Of course, this is where I cook Denis his breakfast.” “Really?” said David. “He has a cooked breakfast?” “Yes,” she said. “Well,” he said, “it is very poky up here, isn’t it?” He did not think much of it at all. He never had aspirations to be Prime Minister, I think.

David was a friend. I was privileged to know him, and privileged to work with him on so many campaigns. He was a great parliamentarian, a great politician, a fantastic advocate on behalf of his constituents, and a great champion of our nation. He was also one of the nicest, kindest and most genuine people I have ever met. He was always smiling, and was an indefatigable campaigner for all the many issues that he held dear. We are all devastated by his murder. I have been privileged to know his wife and family over the years, and we think of them and we grieve with them; but we will remember his legacy, and we will look on the positive side, because one thing that David Amess always was, was very positive. I am proud to have known him.

MP and Councillor attend Friends AGM

Pictured are Rt Hon Sir David Evennett MP and Cllr Geraldene Lucia-Hennis with the Officers and Committee members.

Rt Hon Sir David Evennett MP and Crayford Councillor Geraldene Lucia-Hennis, were among members who attended the Friends of St Paulinus Church Annual General Meeting held on Saturday afternoon (16 October) in the Church Hall.

The meeting was presented with Reports from the Chair, Dorothy Pennington-Jones, Treasurer, John Holbrook and Secretary, Alan Baxter.

Despite Covid and the necessary restrictions, the Friends had continued to operate albeit on a restricted scale. The Lottery run by Margaret Drew had continued and produced much needed income for the Friends. Fundraising and social events were now being planned for the forthcoming year.

After the meeting, members enjoyed tea and homemade cakes baked by Jackie Baxter and Leslie Holbrook. There was also a raffle.

Officers elected to serve for the year 2021/22:
Chair: Dorothy Pennington-Jones
Vice Chair and Secretary: Alan Baxter
Treasurer: John Holbrook

Local Conservatives attend Party Conference in Manchester

Sir David pictured with Mark Brooks

Rt Hon Sir David Evennett, Member of Parliament and Vice Chairman of the Conservative Party, and Mark Brooks OBE, Bexleyheath and Crayford Conservative Association President, were among the local attendees at the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester this week.

Members attended fringe meetings, receptions and speeches in the main hall and at the Midland Hotel. Sir David commented: “this was a serious and constructive Conference, which was debating and addressing the big issues facing our country and highlighting the Conservative Governments policies to deal with the challenges. It was really good to attend the Conference in person again.” Sir David, who is the Conservatives Vice Chairman for Business Engagement, also held meetings with a variety of business men and women to learn about their hopes and concerns.

Sir David pictured with the Conservative Party Chairman, Rt Hon Oliver Dowden MP

Highlights of the Conference were the Prime Minister Boris Johnsons brilliant speech on Wednesday “to make us a high wage and high skill country and to have the guts to tackle problems that previous governments had ignored”; on Monday Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunaks address on “jobs, opportunities and a determination to fix our public finances”; and Foreign Secretary Liz Truss on Sunday afternoon wanted “a patriotic and positive Britain – an outward looking, optimistic nation confident in its ability to compete and lead.

Business Minister Guests at Tory Supper

Paul Scully MP, the Minister for Small Business and Minister for London, was the guest speaker at the Bexleyheath and Crayford Conservatives Autumn Supper held at the Bexleyheath Conservative Club on Thursday evening (30 September). The event was chaired by the Association President, Mark Brook, and organised by Association Officers Janet Power and Maureen King.

At the sold out event Paul Scully spoke about the importance of small businesses to our economy and for jobs, and highlighted all the Government has endeavoured to do to help businesses survive the coronavirus pandemic. He also spoke about London issues and the forthcoming London Borough elections before answering members’ questions.

Among the guests at the Supper were Rt Hon Sir David Evennett MP and his wife Marilyn, Bexley Council Leader Cllr Teresa O’Neill OBE, and Councillors Geraldene Lucia-Hennis and Sue Gower MBE.

There was also a raffle for Party funds.