Claire Coutinho MP Newsletter
I’m sure many of you are looking forward to trips up to London over Christmas – and you can now breathe a sigh of relief as the Day Travelcard has been saved after Government intervention. Back in April, I shared the news that the Mayor of London and TfL were running a consultation to scrap the Day Travelcard for those travelling into London. Keeping the Day Travelcard will save East Surrey commuters hundreds of pounds in travel costs each year and make it easier for residents to enjoy London's brilliant restaurants, shops, and culture. Thank you to everyone in East Surrey who took part in the consultation and made sure our voices were heard.
Closer to home, I recently held a meeting in Oxted with Surrey Police, local councillors, representatives from local businesses and Oxted BID about persistent crime and anti-social behaviour in the town centre. While this meeting was specific to what has been taking place in Oxted, I know that this is an issue that is important to families across the constituency. I want everyone to feel safe in our community, and I know there have been really worrying incidents in recent months relating to organised crime gangs and unacceptable threats towards young shop staff.
Businesses rightly raised their frustrations that 999 calls are not resulting in visits to their stores. Lisa Townsend, our Police and Crime Commissioner, has been working with the police improve 999 responses, and our Borough Commander Lyndsey Whatley has committed to working with local businesses to improve reporting and ensure their staff feel safe. There will be another online public meeting for local businesses held by the Oxted BID shortly, and anyone who would like to attend can email me for details. I’d also like to thank Oxted and Limpsfield Parish Councils, Friends of the Master Park and Oxted and Hurst Green Community Centres for their work to install more CCTV and ANPR cameras in the area, which will help deter crime and gather evidence on behalf of the police.
At Oxted Community Hall, I also spent some time talking to parents at their craft-tastic parent-and-baby morning run by local superstar Penny Kirk. In my previous role as Children's Minister I spent a lot of time talking to new parents, as I was working to deliver the largest ever expansion of childcare worth up to £6,500 for the average family. Some parents told me that it can be confusing to find out exactly how many free hours of childcare you are entitled to, so the Government has launched a personalised online eligibility checker. Simply go to childcarechoices.gov.uk, enter your details, and you will get a clear breakdown of when you will be entitled to the new support. My office is always available to help you understand any of your entitlements.
Finally, I know there is a great sense of unfairness when petrol station bosses are not passing on savings at the pump. Drivers should always get a competitive fuel price, so in my role as Energy Secretary I’ve appointed the Competition and Markets Authority and given them new powers to make sure we all get a competitive fuel price.
I’ve also been spreading the news that we have now increased the cash grant of our Boiler Upgrade Scheme by 50%, to £7,500. This makes our scheme one of the most generous in Europe and means that some heat pumps will start below the average price of gas boilers. While out and about in Smallfield, I met Dan, who told me that the uplift means that he’ll now be able to make the switch to a heat pump. That’s exactly our ambition– no families should have to choose between cutting costs and cutting emissions. To see if you’re eligible, just search for ‘Boiler Upgrade Scheme’.
I would like to wish you all a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year, and to thank you for the many wonderful conversations I’ve had with constituents on the doorsteps, our in the community and in my many surgeries throughout 2023. It is the privilege of my life to be your MP, and I am here to work for you. If you need help, please never hesitate to get in touch on email@example.com or 02072195972