Letter from Claire Coutinho – June 2023

East Surrey was on top form for the Coronation!

I started off at the Woldingham Barn Dance, followed next morning by a beautiful outdoor service led by Revd Calver at St Mary’s, Horne. Then it was Warlingham’s picnic, with Cllr Robin Bloore, where it was great to sneak a half of Titsey Brew – and I was almost blinded by the brilliance of Cllr Pursehouse’s technicolour blazer!

Next, Whyteleafe’s daisy-strewn celebrations, supported by Caterham Rotary and Whyteleafe Community Hub, before some commemorative tree planting in Horley. People came together across the district, thanks to the efforts of those who dedicate their lives to spreading joy. I am so proud to represent an area with such wonderful community spirit.

In my former life, I helped set up National Numeracy Day, so it always makes me smile when it comes around each May. I visited the fantastic Hazelwood School on their Maths Day, where Year 7 and 8 pupils committed to the cause in numeric fancy dress. We had a wide-ranging Q&A, from my time studying maths and philosophy at university, to a typical MP’s day and how many rooms No. 10 has.

Lots of you have written to me about Royal Mail’s poor delivery service, particularly in and around Caterham. I’ve been speaking to their leadership to seek clarity on what is causing such severe delays and when we can expect to see better service.

I admire our postal workers, and know they are working as hard as they can in difficult circumstances, but they need to be properly supported by Royal Mail. I have sent two letters to their leadership, and I will update you with their response next month.

Access to local health services is also something you raise with me. 90% of our contact with the NHS is through GPs, so I was delighted to see the prime minister announce an important new plan to free up 15 million GP appointments over the next two years.

This includes ending the 8am rush to get an appointment by introducing modern phone queuing systems, allowing pharmacists to dispense prescription-only medicine for common illnesses such as sore throats and UTIs, and making self-referral easier where it is safe to do so, eg for eye consultations or hearing aid provision. 

I recently joined Surrey Police’s new chief constable Tim De Meyer at a meeting with our police and crime commissioner Lisa Townsend and MPs from across Surrey, to discuss our residents’ priorities.

I was encouraged by his no-fuss approach: focusing on serving victims tirelessly and pursuing criminals relentlessly. I thanked him for his officers’ work in reassuring the community following the tragic dog attack in Caterham, and I raised constituents’ concerns about the rise of keyless car theft, the theft of catalytic converters and agri-theft.

Finally, I received confirmation from Surrey County Council that West Park Road will be resurfaced between 19 June and 21 July. Residents nearby will receive leaflets with what to expect during the repairs.

I know the road has been bothering lots of you for months, and having driven on it myself, I’m glad it will soon be resolved. If you have unsafe roads near you, let your local county councillors know, or report them on the Surrey County Council website.

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