10 MAY 2019

Greg enjoys some just deserts at premium food producers

Greg was delighted to tour one of Kent's leading food production factories today, shortly after visiting a luxury hamper maker.

In what turned out to be a culinary themed day, Greg left the distillery Atom Brands and headed straight to Lamberhurst to visit the headquarters of British Fine Foods.

Founded during the height of the credit crunch by Pam and Andrew Harper, British Fine Foods has been the leading provider of deluxe picnic hampers for a range of clients, including Wimbledon, Ascot and Goodwood.

It has now moved into corporate gifts and has begun to tap its exporting potential by providing hampers to high-end clients who desire the quintessential British picnic.

Greg later toured the Hawkhurst-based factory of the premium desert maker Rhokett.

Despite being founded only in 2002, Rhokett has grown to be one of the largest producers of premium deserts and is the main supplier for Marks & Spencer.

Greg was given his tour by Peter Le Voir, who co-founded the company alongside Martin Dockett and celebrity chef Gary Rhodes. He was joined on his tour by site owner Peter Dunlop.

Commenting after his visit, Greg said: "West Kent is home to some of the UK's premium food producers and I was delighted to be able to tour two such companies, British Fine Foods and Rhokett, and witness the hard work that does into making their products.

"Both are fine examples of high growth companies which excel in their chosen fields and I look forward to hearing more about their success in the future."


10 MAY 2019

Gin o'clock at Atom Brands

It can be thirsty work being an MP, which is why Greg was delighted to visit Atom Brands earlier today for a tour of the rapidly expanding distillery and distributor, which is famous for its Bathtub Gin and whiskey advent calendars.

Employing around 300 people, half of which are based at its Tonbridge headquarters, the company has become a major exporter of British beverages, with over 40 overseas markets. 

Greg's visit comes shortly after the business won a Queen's Award for Enterprise for the second year running. 

Greg said: "Many congratulations to Atom Brands for their achievement in winning the Queens Award for Enterprise for International Trade. These prestigious awards help shine a light on all that is great about UK business today and I am extremely pleased to see a company which operates on the border of my constituency recognised by Her Majesty The Queen."


10 MAY 2019

Greg calls upon local businesses to nurture hidden talent

Greg is urging local businesses throughout West Kent to be more open minded when it comes to providing work experience to students with learning difficulties.

His pledge to raise awareness of the issue came after his visit to Oakley School, in which he heard first-hand about the difficulties its students face in obtaining work experience whilst in education and then paid employment afterwards.

According to the mental health charity Mencap, the number of people with learning difficulties who want a paid job is 60 per cent, but only six per cent have one.

During his visit to Oakley's Tonbridge site, Greg was also given a tour of Oakley College which had its first intake in September 2018.

The college, which is run independently of the school, provides young people with special education needs aged 19-25 with a programme of study and work-related learning and experience that will lead to further vocational training, internships and employment.

He also talked to members of the School's sixth form who spoke openly about their eagerness to find work upon leaving education, but also of their fear of rejection by prospective employers.

Greg said: "The disparity between those with learning difficulties who wish to work and those who end up with paid employment is extremely dispiriting, but one area we should be able to make swift progress on is helping young people with special needs gain work experience.

"Therefore, I am calling upon local businesses to nurture the wealth of hidden talent that can be found in schools such as Oakley."


26 APR 2019

Greg discusses student mental health at Skinners School

Greg met with senior members of staff from both Skinners and Judd this afternoon at Skinners School to discuss the issue of student mental health.

Numerous concerns were raised, such as the current waiting time for students to be referred to specialists, the maximum of twelve weeks a young person suffering from mental health issues gets in provision and the cut off referral age being set at 18.

Acknowledging the current state of provision can be approved, Greg encouraged the schools to come up with their own proposals on how to improve the system which they can then put forward to the CAMHS provider, NELFT, next month.

This meeting was followed by a Q&A session with the Skinners sixth form politics pupils, where the insightful students quizzed Greg on the topical issues of Brexit, the environment and state of British politics.

Greg said: "Since I was elected I have campaigned hard for improvements to children and adolescent mental health services in West Kent. The meeting today has revealed much more still needs to be done before we have the sort of provision our young people deserve.

"However, I am very encouraged that our local schools are taking the issue seriously and have taken all the necessary steps to do their part in ensuring their pupils are well cared for."


26 APR 2019

Greg speaks to residents at Seven Springs

Greg met with a warm welcome when he visited the Seven Springs care home on Pembury Road this morning.

Following a guided tour of the Leonard Cheshire facility by Service Manager Jason Semple, Greg met with some of its residents, guests and volunteers in the activity centre, where he held a number of one on one discussions with those present.

Greg said: "I am very grateful to Seven Springs for inviting me to tour the home and speak to their residents.

"I was particularly interested is the upcoming redevelopment of the hydrotherapy pool and communal areas, which will then allow for greater engagement with the community when opened up to the public. Tunbridge Wells is fortunate to have such a well run facility."


05 APR 2019

Greg visits Bewl for the Kent Big Weekend

Greg met up with the Chief Executive of Visit Kent, Deirdre Wells, at Bewl Water today to mark the start of the Kent Big Weekend and discuss the vital role tourism plays in the local economy. 

The event, aimed at boosting tourism throughout the county, sees thousands of tickets to local attractions handed out to Kent's residents.

During his visit to Bewl, Greg was shown around the reservoir and The Boat House Bistro by Operations Director at the site Phil Daley who discussed future plans, including the Aqua Park which is set to open next month. 

Greg said: "It was a great pleasure meeting Deirdre and Phil at Bewl Water to discuss the fantastic work Visit Kent undertake to promote tourism throughout the county.

"Bewl provided an ideal location for our meeting, having seen significant investment in recent years, it has proven to be one of the most popular visitor attractions in West Kent.

"Tourism contributes a significant amount to the local economy, which is why I am so supportive of the Kent Big Weekend and English Tourism Week."


22 MAR 2019

Greg seeks feedback from local businesses

Greg has praised the 'entrepreneurial spirit' of Tunbridge Wells businesses following a visit to two outstandingly successful family run firms.

He was speaking after touring the neighbouring North Farm companies ID&C and Childrensalon – both of which have seen rapid growth in recent years.

ID&C, which designs identification writsbands for music festivals, has grown from a kitchen table project established in 1995, to an international exporter which ships to over 90 countries from its Kingstanding Way headquarters and its secondary office in Florida. 

Meanwhile, Childrensalon started life as a small bricks and mortar shop in Tunbridge Wells to a global leader in children's fashion, with customers in 160 countries and a turnover of £100m last year.

Greg said: "I am grateful to both ID&C and Childrensalon for inviting me to come and tour their companies and speak to their staff. The success of these two family run firms is a testament to the entrepreneurial spirit of Tunbridge Wells business and I will use their feedback to help me as Business Secretary find more ways to help other companies emulate their success."


08 MAR 2019

Greg meets with KCC to tackle dangerous junction

Urgent steps must be taken to prevent the alarming increase in the number of accidents taking place at the central crossroads in Horsmonden, Greg has said.

Greg met with Mike Whiting, the Cabinet Member for Highways at KCC, alongside Stuart Davis and Colin Russell of the parish council, to discuss what measures could be implemented to make the junction between the B2162, Goudhurst Road and Benchley Road safer.

Greg said: "In recent years it has become apparent that the crossroads at the heart of Horsmonden are putting drivers lives at risk and doing nothing is not an option. This is why I met with Mike Whiting in the village so that he could assess the situation for himself and help come up with solutions to make the junction safer."


08 MAR 2019

Greg discusses green issues and business opportunities

Sixth formers from Bennett quizzed Greg on the government's environmental strategy at a productive meeting arranged by the school's Environment Prefects. Topics covered included nuclear power, renewable energy and climate change.

He later observed the school's Enterprise Advisor Network event, which saw representatives of local businesses converse with pupils about what their company does, whilst getting their own feedback on what business can do to appeal more to their age group.

Greg said: "My visit to Bennett Memorial school has been very enlightening and it was my pleasure to hear the sixth form talk with such passion about the very pressing environmental issues we all face. It was also a pleasure to see local firms actively engage with the young people of Tunbridge Wells about the world of business whilst actively seeking their views."


08 MAR 2019

Round table tops off National Apprenticeship Week

With an increasing number of individuals opting to take up apprenticeships, Greg took the opportunity to mark National Apprenticeship Week by hosting a round table event at the Salomons Estate. The event was attended by around a dozen apprentices, who spoke to Greg about their experiences and shared insight into how apprenticeship programmes work and can be improved.

Greg said: "I am delighted to have met such enthusiastic individuals during the round table event and have learned a great deal about what it means to be an apprentice in Britain today. The fact that many apprenticeships are now recognised as being on par with a university degree is a welcome indication of the growing choice in further education available to everyone."


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10 MAY 2019

Greg enjoys some just deserts at premium food producers

Greg was delighted to tour one of Kent's leading food production factories today, shortly after...


10 MAY 2019

Gin o'clock at Atom Brands

It can be thirsty work being an MP, which is why Greg was delighted to visit Atom Brands earlier...


10 MAY 2019

Greg calls upon local businesses to nurture hidden talent

Greg is urging local businesses throughout West Kent to be more open minded when it comes to...


26 APR 2019

Greg discusses student mental health at Skinners School

Greg met with senior members of staff from both Skinners and Judd this afternoon at Skinners School...