17 NOV 2017

Why the values of our nation matter so much

The job of the Member of Parliament is not about the Member of Parliament. It is about what you do, the team you build and what you achieve for the people you serve.

We have come a long way together over the past 10 years. We have achieved much and we should be proud of the change we have made together in our community.

Let's remember how things were back in 2010. Our port was about to be sold off. Dover's hospital had been decimated for a decade – services withdrawn and wards axed one by one. Deal's hospital was left teetering on the edge. Deal itself was called a "village" by the Government, unfit for the fast train. Unemployment had rocketed and things looked bleak.

Fast forward to today and there is a brand new hospital in Dover. Deal hospital has been safeguarded. We are now working tirelessly to get more services in both hospitals – to save people long and expensive journeys to hospitals far away. We stopped the port sell off and it is now not just forever England – it has been reformed to bring it closer to the community. The fast train now sweeps into Deal all day, every day and Deal is a town transformed. In Dover Burlington House is gone and a new shopping complex rises in the heart of the town. Unemployment has halved. Ours is a community on the up.

Just this week hundreds of letters have gone out to constituents. Whether it's fighting their corner on issues such as housing, health or getting a decent bus service – this work goes on, and will continue to do so. I am still holding surgeries, doing everything I can to help people. It's business as usual.

I write this because sometimes I need to remind myself as well as our team why we do it and why it's all worth it. And I want to thank the hundreds of well wishers from across Dover & Deal – indeed across the whole nation - who have got in touch in the past week.

So what then is my explanation for what has happened and what I am accused of? I cannot give one. Because, two weeks on, I still do not know.

But let me say some things about the way matters of this sort should be handled. First, there must be a fair due process for people who are the victims of crime – and fair due process for those facing allegations.

Moreover in the febrile atmosphere that grips our country from time to time, we must never rush to judgement. We must not confuse accusation with proof. We can never muddle courts of law with courts of social media and public opinion. Nor should we confuse prejudice with fact. The whole area of reporting misconduct and managing allegations of misconduct in public life is a mess. I have every sympathy with people who have been harassed or victimised and feel they have nowhere to turn. That is a denial of justice.

It is also a denial of justice when people who have had allegations made against them, lose their job or their party whip without knowing what those allegations are. The more so as political parties are quick to panic and throw people under the bus for the expediency of looking tough and strong. That is fundamentally wrong. Wrong because it's an injustice to those who stand accused – and in at least one case the humiliation has tragically proven too much to bear. But also wrong because it undermines our fundamental values as a country.

We believe in the rule of law – that everyone, be they so very high or so very low, should be equal before the law. We believe in the presumption of innocence until proven otherwise. We believe in natural justice. These are cornerstones of our constitution.

It was not in keeping with these values that the media were told of allegations made against me last week before I was. It was not in keeping with these values that the presumption of innocence was undermined by the panicked action of my party. And it was not in keeping with these values to cause prejudice and harm the chances of my getting a fair hearing.

Whatever it turns out I stand accused of, I deny any criminal wrongdoing. I cannot deny that the pressure of these events has taken a heavy toll on me and my family. Yet I will stand fast to our values and do all I can to uphold them, whatever the price may be. I am not here for myself, but for the people of Dover & Deal – the people I serve.

I have always done my utmost to work hard for our community. And I am resolved to continue to do so. I have always put all my energy into fighting for the people of Dover and Deal – and I am resolved to continue to do so.

For me, the interests of the people of Dover & Deal will always come first.

0 comments

Post a comment


15 NOV 2017

Asking the PM for a billion at the border

I repeated calls for £1 billion to be set aside for Brexit border preparations during Prime Minister's Questions today. I told Theresa May that businesses in his constituency are getting ready for leaving the European Union.

Government should invest in the Dover frontline now – to ensure the UK is ready on day one for every eventuality of Brexit, deal or no deal. The Prime Minister said she appreciates that the need to prepare for leaving the EU is "very tightly felt" in Dover and Deal. Mrs May said funds have been made available for Brexit preparations and that the Government will look at what further work is necessary to ensure the UK is ready for leaving the EU.

I asked: "Businesses at the Dover frontline are now preparing to leave the European Union. Will the Government consider earmarking at least £1 billion in the upcoming Budget to make sure that we are ready on day one, deal or no deal – and prepared for every single eventuality."

The Prime Minister said: "I thank my honourable friend for his question.

"Obviously in his constituency, this issue of preparations for the position when we leave the European Union is very tightly felt. There's great focus on it – and I appreciate why that is the case.

"We have already made funds available for the preparations and work that is necessary across Government in preparations for Brexit – and of course we'll be looking at what further work is necessary to ensure that we are ready.

"We hope we are going to get that good deal – and we're working to get that good deal. But either way there will need to be some changes from the Government point of view – and we're ensuring the resources are there to do that."

0 comments

Post a comment


09 NOV 2017

Statement to Dover and Deal Conservative Association

On Thursday, November 9th, I made the following statement to the Executive of the Dover and Deal Conservative Association:

I want to start by saying that I wish we were not meeting under these circumstances.

The job of the Member of Parliament is not about the Member of Parliament. It is about what you do, the team you build and what you achieve for the people you serve.

We have come a long way together over the past 10 years. We have achieved much and we should be proud of the change we have made in this community.

Let's remember how things were back in 2010. Our port was about to be sold off. Dover's hospital had been decimated for a decade – services withdrawn and wards axed one by one. Deal's hospital was left teetering on the edge. Deal itself was called a "village" by the Government, unfit for the fast train. Unemployment had rocketed and things looked bleak.

Fast forward to today and there is a brand new hospital in Dover. Deal hospital has been safeguarded. We are now working tirelessly to get more services in both hospitals – to save people long and expensive journeys to hospitals far away. We stopped the port sell off and it is now not just forever England – it has been reformed to bring it closer to the community. The fast train now sweeps into Deal all day, every day and Deal is a town transformed. In Dover Burlington House is gone and a new shopping complex rises in the heart of the town. Unemployment has halved. Ours is a community on the up.

Just this week hundreds of letters have gone out to constituents. Whether it's fighting their corner on issues such as housing, health or getting a decent bus service – this work goes on, and will continue to do so. I am still holding surgeries, doing everything I can to help people. It's business as usual.

I say this because sometimes I need to remind myself as well as our team why we do it and why it's all worth it. And I want to thank you, the entire Conservative family and the many well wishers who are not Conservative supporters who have got in touch in the past week.

So what then is my explanation for what I am accused of? I cannot give one. Because I do not know what I am accused of. I received a call from a journalist just after 9pm on Friday evening saying he had heard I was having the whip withdrawn in time for the 10 O'Clock news and asked me what was going on. I said I had absolutely no idea. Minutes later I received a call from the Chief Whip telling me that serious allegations had been made against me earlier that week and that these had been passed to the Police. I asked what the allegations were and he would not tell me. He only said that he and the Prime Minister had decided the whip should be suspended from me. As we spoke, the news spread across the national media.

And that is all I can tell you. Since then I have had no further information. And here we are.

So extraordinary as it may seem I am no wiser now than I was on Friday evening when the Chief Whip called me.

But let me say some things about the way our Party has handled this. First, I want to echo what the Labour MP Chris Bryant has said. "If this fortnight teaches anything it is there must be a fair proper process for those who feel they have been harassed or abused AND fair due process for those facing allegations."

I think that's spot-on. The fact is that this whole area of reporting misconduct and managing allegations of misconduct is a mess. I have every sympathy with people who have been harassed or victimised and feel they have nowhere to turn. That is a denial of justice.

It is also a denial of justice when people who have had allegations made against them, lose their job or their party whip without knowing what those allegations are. I believe this is fundamentally wrong. Wrong because it's an injustice to those who stand accused. But also wrong because it undermines our values as a country.

We believe in the rule of law – that everyone, be they so very high or so very low, should be equal before the law. We believe in the presumption of innocence until proven otherwise. We believe in natural justice.

So, I ask you: was it in line with our values as a country that the media were told of allegations made against me last week before I was? Was it in line with our values that the presumption of innocence was undermined by the whip being suspended? Was it in line with our values to cause prejudice and harm the chances of my getting a fair hearing?

Finally let me say that whatever it turns out I stand accused of, I deny any criminal wrongdoing. I have always done my best to work hard for our community – and will continue to do so. I have always put all my energy into fighting for the people of Dover and Deal – and will continue to do so. For me, the interests of the people of Dover & Deal will always come first.

13 comments

Agree 100% Charlie. I hope something is done to stop such travesties of justice in the future. Lastly, I hope this all works out well for you, and your family's sake.
- Sid Perkins

Well said.
- Mel Augustine


- Agree 100% , you have a right to know the allegatons against you, which I do not believe are true and those who deny you that right are cowards

I am not one of your constituents but I agree with you wholeheartedly and wish you well
- Maureen Pope

It sounds like you've had a dirty deal- I wish you true justice- all the est - Peregrine
- Peregrine

Hang in there Charlie. I thought(wrongly as it turns out), that every UK citizen had the right to be told of any allegations made against them. It appears that Tory MP`s are denied those rights. How Bizarre. Is there darker moves afoot politically. One begins to wonder, especially now that the government is so fragile
- John Woollen

I am not a constituent either but wanted to express my incredulity at the cavalier way you have been treated. Whatever you may or may not have done, this is no way to go about resolving the issue and the party should hang its head in shame at the way you are being treated. Chin up!
- Peter Colmer

Charlie, we do not know each other but every time I pass through Dover (which is often) I look in amazement at the changes that you have made. I think that you are being treated despicably through trial by social media and am staggered that our prime minister can behave as she has done.
- andrew suddards hartley

I agree - innocent until proved guilty.
- Del

I think you have been treated abysmally - I hope that you are exonerated of any wrong doing. Some idiots moan that you are one for a photo opportunity, the reason we keep seeing your picture in the local papers is because you are constantly campaigning for local causes. Not just at voting time like many others in politics. Superb MP that I still hope is destined for higher office within the party.
- Tony

Astonishing the way you have been treated. I feel for your wife and children. Seems as if we are in North Korea or Iran rather than the UK !
- Peter Davis

Discasful that you have been treated like this. One must question the Chief Whips compatance in this matter. Career polititions are know different to young corporate executives all to quick to through a colleague under a bus to further their careers. Just look at the pervious Chief Whip and Micael Falon. It's about time these people put the country first. Good luck Charlie.
- Mike Hawker

I do not think I have ever heard of such a farcical situation. Guilt by television, guilt by announcement guilt by suspension. Extraordinary is not strong enough a word. This is a sad indictment of the procedural value of our times. It seems that the smoke is more important than the fire even when there is no smoke and no fire. As far as I am concerned there is no stain on Charlie's character in the slightest and his considerable integrity is unscathed.
- Steve Oxenham

Post a comment


09 NOV 2017

Kelly was an inspiration to everyone in Dover and Deal

We woke up to the most heart breaking news on Monday morning - that Kelly Turner, the girl who united our entire community, had passed away.

Our thoughts are with her parents Martin and Linda, who fought relentlessly to save their daughter. They needed to raise £1 million for treatment in the US. And in a year they raised more than half that target. They did so through tireless campaigning which inspired the people of Dover.

The response from the Dover community has been incredible. So many people got involved to do their bit for Kelly. It felt like the whole town was pulling together. Whether you knew Kelly personally or not, it didn't matter. Everyone wanted to help. To give Kelly the chance and the hope she deserved.

And this is part of what makes Kelly's death, aged 17, so devastating. It feels like the passing of this incredible brave girl is more than just a single life lost. It's the loss of someone who united the entire community. The town is in mourning and Kelly and her family will be in our thoughts when we pause for a minute’s silence on Sunday.

The devastation also hits hard at the thought of Martin and Linda having to say goodbye to their beautiful daughter. A girl with real artistic talent who had so much potential. Yet not only was she talented – Kelly’s determination and drive was clear for all to see. Her determination to battle a rare form of cancer which weakened her body day by day - yet her spirit was always strong. Her determination to keep fighting against the steepest odds - and always keep smiling. To get up, go to school and achieve great results in her GCSEs.

Kelly was a softly spoken, polite young girl. Yet deep inside there was a fire raging. She refused to let her spirit be beaten.

Kelly was a true inspiration. None of us doubt that she could have achieved great things. Yet all she wanted - more than anything - was to live.

This has been cruelly denied her. It leaves us asking painful questions. Why does this have to happen? Why Kelly? Why was she taken so young? These questions are all the more painful because we cannot begin to answer them.

We feel angry - that despite doing everything we could it still wasn't enough to save Kelly. We grieve because we feel one of Dover's brightest lights has gone out.

So what can we do? We must follow Kelly's example. We must keep a fire burning in all our hearts. We must remember Kelly for who she was - the girl who united our town and always stayed strong.

I will remember Kelly as the girl enjoying herself at Dover Music Festival this summer - smiling and dancing like a teenager should - in the moment, loving life. Defiant and brave as always.

Kelly and her family will always be in our hearts. We will never forget her fight and her spirit. In Dover, her light will never go out.

1 comment

Well said. Heartbreaking news but some warm and human memories. As you say, " In Dover, her light will never go out."
- Bernie Mayall

Post a comment


04 NOV 2017

Simple solution to speeding in Capel

Residents in Capel are calling for a crackdown on cars and trucks speeding through their village. Members of Capel Parish Council met with me to discuss their concerns.

Villagers want the 40mph limit on the B2011 – which runs from Dover to Folkestone through the village – to start much closer to the junction with the A20. The parish councillors say it would be safer if the 40mph limit began before vehicles reached the turnings into caravan sites situated along the road.

Bosses at the Jarvis Homes development being built on the coastal side of the road have agreed as a condition of planning to pay Kent Highways £20,000 for the work to be done. Yet the parish councillors say Kent Highways are refusing to listen to their concerns or investigate the proposed changes.

I am taking up the case and has written to Cllr Matthew Balfour, Kent County Council's Cabinet Member for Transport, asking for a site meeting. I have spoken to Ch Insp Mark Weller, Dover District area commander, about concerns over speeding in Capel.

Everyone can see that moving the 40mph down the road makes sense. This way cars will be travelling at a slower speed when they pass the caravan sites and enter the village. It's frustrating that Kent Highways have not put these sensible plans into action. I've asked for a site meeting so we can show them how simple the solution could be.

0 comments

Post a comment


03 NOV 2017

Twice as many clinics now operating at Buckland Hospital

Buckland Hospital is now operating almost twice as many clinics as when it first opened. A total of 32 outpatient specialities are based at the Coombe Valley Road site, delivering 9,895 clinics each year. It compares to 25 departments delivering 5,020 clinics at the end of 2015.

Seven new ophthalmic consultants have been recruited to work at the hospital, including in its brand new cataract surgery theatre. And health chiefs told me "good progress" was being made on getting GP services co-located at Buckland and creating a primary care hub.

The latest figures come as I held more crunch talks with local health bosses this week. Representatives from East Kent Hospitals University Foundation Trust and the South Kent Coast Clinical Commissioning group attended a meeting with Kent MPs I organised. We discussed improvements being made to A&E waiting times and plans for a medical school in Kent.

I'm delighted there are more services at Buckland. It's something I am constantly pushing for. The old hospital had been decimated over a decade, yet the opposite is happening in the new one.

But I still want to see even more services. Around 30 per cent of the new hospital remains unused. I also want to see beds commissioned at the brand new residential facility next door. Patients should be recovering as close to home as possible.

The recent news follows positive healthcare developments elsewhere in east Kent. A&E performance, recently rated as one of the worst in the country, has improved by 5% to 78.7% in the last fortnight in terms of patients treated within four hours of arrival.

With an extra £800,000 of central government investment, East Kent Hospitals University Foundation Trust has recruited ten new specialist emergency doctors, installed three new treatment areas and a new ambulatory care unit at the William Harvey, and expanded ambulatory care and provided a new combined surgical assessment unit at Margate. Meanwhile at Deal Hospital, new figures show staff numbers have increased 17% since last year, from 126 to 147. And in Canterbury, an application for a brand new medical school run by the city's two universities will be submitted by the end of the year.

People often say the NHS is underfunded by the Conservatives. It's simply not true. An extra £10 billion in real terms is going into the system, bringing the budget to more than £120 billion – three times what we spend on schools.

I have been really encouraged by the new leadership team and the improvement plan they have implemented. The recent good work must continue because patients in Dover and Deal deserve better.

0 comments

Post a comment


02 NOV 2017

Three good reasons to invest one billion at the front line

We must be ready on day one for every eventuality of Brexit – particularly at the Dover frontline. Planning for no deal is not simply a negotiation point in our talks with the European Union. Increasingly it is the responsible thing to do.

This was the case I made in the House of Commons last week – that it is in the national interest to be ready on day one. There are three key reasons.

First, insurance. You buy house insurance before you are burgled. In the same way we should insure against the risks of error in the current Brussels brinkmanship by making sure we are ready on day one.

Second, to get the best deal. Any experienced negotiator will tell you that if you want a deal, prepare first for no deal. If you can walk away you get a better price and better terms.

Third, this is no regrets spending. Our customs computers are creaking, the border systems are ageing and roads in Kent are far from resilient. In other words, this is investment we need at the Port of Dover and Eurotunnel anyway.

Lack of investment already costs the economy billions of pounds when there are problems at the Channel Ports. In 2015, tailbacks caused by strikes in Calais caused queues of 4,600 lorries over 30 miles. In 2016, a lack of French border police at Dover caused huge tailbacks with miles of traffic and 250,000 people caught up in the delay. Gridlock at Dover will mean gridlock for the British economy.

It would be wrong to wait until the last moment to start investing. It is in the national interest that we invest now. At least £1 Billion should be set aside in the November Budget to invest in upgrading our systems and infrastructure so that we will be ready on day one to forge ahead on day two.

Now, some will say that however ready we are they won't be ready across the English Channel. Yet ports like Calais and Dunkirk would be required to upgrade their systems in line with a new global trade agreement that came into force in February. So if we start preparing now, there is no need for queues of lorries on either side of the Channel.

Others will say we cannot possibly be ready in time. That our system of administration and government organisation simply cannot cope. These are not people who believe in Britain. Nor are they people who have studied our history. For when there is a need, there is no obstacle we cannot overcome – no challenge we cannot meet. We can do this – and we must do this to deliver the greatest opportunities offered to our future generations by seeking a global future.

Yet we must prepare now. As the closest point to Europe, the most important preparations of all will be at the Dover frontline.

0 comments

Post a comment


01 NOV 2017

BrightHouse interest rates should be capped

I used the story of a constituent to force the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to consider capping interest applied by rent-to-own companies like BrightHouse. Electricals retailer BrightHouse was last week fined £14.8 million by the FCA for irresponsible lending and treating customers unfairly.

In a Treasury Select Committee hearing yesterday, I grilled chief executive Andrew Bailey about what else FCA was doing to curb BrightHouse's "predatory" behaviour. I highlighted the case of a woman who paid more than £2,200 for a TV worth £600, and one of his own constituents who paid off 70% of the value of a product before having it taken away by a "very rude bloke" for one missed payment.

I asked Mr Bailey: "These people end up repaying three times, or more, what they should.

"And you yourself said in a speech that the cap on payday lending of two times maximum has been effective, and people haven't lost out.

"So why aren't you doing it with this sector?"

He responded: "That's what we are doing with high cost credit. We are looking at a number of sectors... Because I agree with you. The issue is real."

I continued: "Can I ask you to take away, as a message, there ought to be caps in this sector – just like payday lending. And will you take action?"

Mr Bailey responded: "Good point. That will be in the frame in terms of what we look at as a solution.

"Caps work better for some products than others but I want to be clear I'm not ruling it out."

I followed up by quoting the interest rates of a number of rent-to-own companies – BrightHouse (70%) PerfectHome (70%) and Buy As You View (69%), adding: "It's not a competition is it? It's a cartel."

We must do more to crack down on firms who prey on the poorest and most vulnerable in society. 

0 comments

Post a comment


31 OCT 2017

Visiting our mental health trust team

It seems like real strides have been made in mental health support in Dover and Deal. I visited Coleman House in Dover to meet with Kent and Medway Social Care Partnership Trust (KMPT) chief executive Helen Greatorex, her deputy Victoria Stevens, and the area's new permanent consultant Dr Kirsten Lawson.

Earlier this year KMPT received an improved rating from the Care Quality Commission (CQC), and stats show improved performance has followed.

It was great to get the latest from Helen and her team. Mental healthcare is incredibly important. For too long it was given less attention than physical health and people struggled to get proper support. But this Government acted to give it equal weight in law, along with an extra £2.25 billion by 2020. I'm pleased to see this is already helping things on the ground.

CQC rated eight out of ten services provided by the trust as Good or Outstanding. Inspectors said KMPT was closing in on being rated Outstanding overall, something boasted by only two trusts across the country.

Dr Kirsten Lawson began running services in the Dover, Deal and Folkestone area in June. For the previous 18 months it had been served by locum doctors on rotation.

Recently the area has consistently exceeded the national target of 95% of patients receiving follow-up contact within a week of being discharged. Assessments within four weeks have also improved significantly, increasing each month from 46% in March to 80% in August.

I have pushed hard for better mental healthcare since I became MP and things finally look like they are on the up. There is more work to be done, of course, but real strides have been made.

0 comments

Post a comment


30 OCT 2017

Launching a campaign to bring in Robert's Law

I am working with the mum of a teenager who died after taking killer drugs to bring in "Robert's Law".

Robert Fraser, from Deal, was 18 when he died in November 2016 after being given fentanyl, a synthetic opioid 50 times stronger than heroin. According to friends, a dealer gave it to him for free saying it was similar to ecstasy. His family discovered his body in his bedroom that evening.

Fentanyl killed 20,000 people in the US last year — up from just 3,000 three years before. Deaths in the UK have also increased in recent months.

I am working with Robert's mum Michelle in a bid to toughen laws, so the American trend is not repeated here. Together we want to bring in "Robert's Law" – which would force police to prioritise cases involving fentanyl, and courts to impose tougher sentences on those caught supplying the drug.

Michelle is an incredibly brave woman. She doesn't want other parents to have to go through what she has. Robert had his whole life ahead of him. But he died from a powerful and increasingly abundant drug he did not know he was taking.

We need to send a strong message to dealers. You will be punished for the misery you inflict.

I am writing to several agencies to establish current positions on fentanyl, including the National Crime Agency, the National Police Chiefs Council, the Justice Secretary, the Home Secretary, Kent Police and NHS England. I then want to table a debate in the House of Commons, before going back to relevant ministers with proposals.

Robert's story will frighten every parent out there. And I want Robert's law to frighten every dealer.  All drugs are dangerous, but these some of these new synthetic ones are on a whole different level. We have to tackle this head on, right now, before it gets out of control.

0 comments

Post a comment


26 OCT 2017

Fighting for better mental healthcare in Dover and Deal

Mental healthcare is incredibly important. For too long it was given less attention than physical health and people struggled to get proper support.

That's why I'm glad this Government acted to give it equal weight in law. Investment in treatment is rising sharply, with an extra £2.25 billion being pumped into mental health services by 2020. Forty per cent more people are accessing them since 2010.

And in Dover and Deal, real strides are being made. Last week I visited Coleman House to discuss progress with Kent and Medway Social Care Partnership Trust chief executive Helen Greatorex, her deputy Victoria Stevens, and the area's new permanent consultant Dr Kirsten Lawson.

People used to come to me all the time complaining about local mental health services. Vulnerable people were cared for in beds in Manchester or Hull. Many were discharged early, some didn't get follow-up contact for weeks. Some didn't get any help at all. I have pushed hard for improvements since I became MP and things finally look like they are on the up.

This year Kent and Medway Social Care Partnership Trust received fantastic praise from health watchdog the Care Quality Commission. Eight out of ten services were rated Good or Outstanding. Inspectors said they are closing in on being rated Outstanding overall, something boasted by only two trusts across the whole country.

The Coleman House team told me how progress was achieved. At one point people were looked after in private beds all over the country. It wasn't right for patients or families, and it was costing the trust millions. By rebalancing units and staff, they have reduced private bed usage to virtually nil.

But I also work closely with local mental health support group Talk It Out, so I know there is more work to be done. I told trust bosses follow-up contact should take place in the first couple of days after discharge. I also said I want to see more care co-ordinators so there is always someone for people to speak to.

More local services, more beds and more mental health support are all part of my vision for a fairer share of healthcare in Dover and Deal.

We've come a long way together since 2010. In Deal our much-loved hospital was left teetering on the edge, until our strong community campaign secured its future. In Dover Buckland Hospital had been decimated over a decade. Two years ago we got a £24 million state-of-the-art facility in its place.

But I want to see more services at both. There's a great opportunity to commission care beds at another brand new facility, right next door to Buckland.

And we must keep up the focus on mental health. We all know someone who has suffered with mental health problems, yet for years they weren't able to access treatment that could help them meaningfully, long and short term.

Let's keep fighting so everyone in Dover and Deal gets the first class healthcare they deserve.

0 comments

Post a comment


25 OCT 2017

We should set aside one billion for "no deal" Brexit

I want £1 billion to be set aside in the Budget for preparations for a "no deal" Brexit scenario.

I told the House of Commons, in an Adjournment Debate on Tuesday night, that the money should be spent on upgrading border systems and infrastructure. Brexit Secretary David Davis was in attendance to listen to my speech.

Planning for no deal is not simply a negotiation point. Increasingly it is the responsible thing to do. It would be wrong to wait until the last moment to start investing. It is in the national interest that we invest now.

At least £1 billion should be set aside in the November Budget to invest in upgrading our systems and infrastructure so that we will be ready on day one to forge ahead on day two.

I argued that Britain must invest now to be ready on day one for leaving the European Union, deal or no deal. I set out three key reasons: that investing now is insurance against a last-minute "no deal"; that being able to walk away will ensure Britain gets the best deal; and that this is "no regrets" spending on border upgrades that are needed anyway.

In 2015, tailbacks caused by strikes in Calais caused queues of 4,600 lorries over 30 miles, at the cost of £1 Billion to the British economy.In 2016, a lack of French border police at Dover caused huge tailbacks with miles of traffic and 250,000 people caught up in the delay.

Gridlock at Dover will mean gridlock for the British economy.

I pointed out that European nations are also required to make upgrades at ports like Calais and Dunkirk. A global trade facilitation agreement that came into force in February makes detailed provision for fast customs clearances, electronic payment systems and trusted trader regimes.

We've spent long enough waiting for the EU to get its act together. Three quarters of the country agrees that if progress can't be made, we should be prepared to walk away. It's vital that we have the option to do so. That we are fully prepared. That's why we must be ready on day one, to forge ahead on day two, deal or no deal.

In response, Brexit Minister Steve Baker referenced a report published by me in July which "rightly focused on the importance of having a functioning border on day one."

0 comments

Post a comment


23 OCT 2017

Calling for crackdown on speeding through Capel

Residents in Capel are calling for a crackdown on cars and trucks speeding through their village. Members of Capel Parish Council also met with me to discuss their concerns.

Villagers want the 40mph limit on the B2011 – which runs from Dover to Folkestone through the village – to start much closer to the junction with the A20. The parish councillors say it would be safer if the 40mph limit began before vehicles reached the turnings into caravan sites situated along the road.

Bosses at the Jarvis Homes development being built on the coastal side of the road have agreed as a condition of planning to pay Kent Highways £20,000 for the work to be done. Yet the parish councillors say Kent Highways are refusing to listen to their concerns or investigate the proposed changes.

I am taking up the case and have written to Cllr Matthew Balfour, Kent County Council's Cabinet Member for Transport, asking for a site meeting. I have also spoken to Ch Insp Mark Weller, Dover District area commander, about concerns over speeding in Capel.

Everyone can see that moving the 40mph down the road makes sense. This way cars will be travelling at a slower speed when they pass the caravan sites and enter the village.

It's frustrating that Kent Highways have not put these sensible plans into action. I've asked for a site meeting so we can show them how simple the solution could be.

I'm pleased Kent Police are looking at ways of cracking down on cars and trucks speeding through Capel.

0 comments

Post a comment


19 OCT 2017

Deal or no deal - we need investment at the front line

It's vital we are ready on day one for Brexit, deal or no deal. We can't wait until the last moment to make sure we have resilient roads and strong borders.

That's why we must be prepared for every eventuality – particularly at the Dover frontline. Clearly we all hope for a deal, yet we must also be fully prepared. The Prime Minister rightly said this week, the Government is committed to spending what is needed to make sure we are ready.

What's more, investment at the border is needed anyway, so it will be a "no regrets" investment decision that is in the national interest. For why wouldn't we want to have world class customs systems and cutting edge digital border controls at the Port of Dover and Eurotunnel? Why wouldn't we want to upgrade the A2 and M20? It wouldn't just mean we are in a great position, deal or no deal – it would also mean faster, more efficient borders and roads to help boost our economy.

Everyone knows that leaving the EU is the biggest challenge our nation has faced since the Second World War. This is why I got hauliers, ports and transport experts together to set out a blueprint for the way forward. We have set out the case to plan for efficient ports. Infrastructure for customs checks and technological improvements. We need a trusted trader system for truckers and close working will be required from our partner ports like Calais, Dunkirk and Zeebrugge.

The Government has drawn heavily on this work in setting out its own plans. This includes goods being presented to customs authorities inland – away from Dover's docks where this would cause delays. This yet again underlines why the roads to the Port of Dover and Eurotunnel must be resilient, with lorry parks where checks could take place. The Department for Transport needs to act now – to make sure that the long-suffering residents of Kent don't have to put up with Operation Stack happening in the future.

It's also important we are ready for the end of uncontrolled EU immigration. That means we need to be able extend our full border control systems from the current 12.5 million to a further 25.5 million visitors to the United Kingdom.

Investment in tried and tested modern digital border systems would enable much faster checks to be made and allow most of the processing to be automated. Using systems to make all necessary checks long before people arrive at the Port of Dover would help minimise travel delays for legitimate travellers.

If we are ambitious we can be a world leader in terms of border technology and security.

Yet we can't keep waiting for the EU to get its act together. It's time to get ready on day one, so we can forge ahead on day two.

1 comment

This country has shown itself highly resilient in just about all the crises faced in past generations, and I agree that leaving the EU is the most difficult and important one to be faced by about 99% of us living today; for that reason I in my naivety assumed, 16 months after the referendum produced a leave outcome, the Government would by now have prepared and begun the implementation of a plan to ensure that movement of goods, services and people between this Country and Europe through all the ports so engaged, would be well advanced. What I've learned reading this article tells a different story. It tells me that by the end of March 2019 the major road network in Kent, but particularly surrounding Dover, will probably be constant gridlock; not a happy situation for those of us living in the area. Whatever the politics of it, this Government has to be convinced soonest, to commit money, appropriate technology and expertise; the skills we have in abundance when circumstances demand it, to ensure our borders are ready when Brexit takes place. The efforts of all involved in Mr Elphicke's endeavour are to be applauded.
- Keith Wells

Post a comment


18 OCT 2017

Industry leaders need "certainty" over Brexit

Industry leaders have called for "certainty" from Government in order to be ready on day one to make a success of Brexit at the Channel Ports.

Representatives from Eurotunnel, the Road Haulage Association and a major logistics firm last night took part in the panel discussion I organised. 

It called for the Government to engage more with businesses and operators – and to invest in upgrading the UK's border technology.

The message is clear. We need better systems at the border – and greater certainty on preparations for Brexit. We need to make this work for the people of Britain and Europe. We must put them first in all that we do.

The decisions we make as we leave the European Union must ensure trade continues to flow through Eurotunnel and the Port of Dover. We need to prepare now to ensure we are ready on day one, deal or no deal."

A number of MPs and representatives from haulage firms attended the packed panel discussion in the House of Commons on Tuesday, October 17. Former Border Force director general Tony Smith CBE, Eurotunnel director of public affairs John Keefe, Road Haulage Association chief executive Richard Burnett and Kuehne + Nagel international forwarding director Mark Johnson were on the panel, chaired by me. 

We all agreed that the Government should prioritise setting up an improved trusted trader system for haulage firms post-Brexit to reduce delays.

0 comments

Post a comment


13 OCT 2017

Crunch talks with bus bosses

I met Stagecoach's area chief for crunch talks on recent changes to local bus services. I told him how I had received scores of complaints regarding routes across the district.

Kent County Council's head of public transport Phil Lightowler also attended the meeting at my Westminster office. We discussed changes to bus routes implemented by Stagecoach in July. I also asked people to comment on my Facebook page so I could pass on their concerns to the bus firm – and more than 100 took the chance to have their say.

Mr Norwell, Stagecoach's South East managing director, told me he had read the comments on the Facebook page. He said many of the problems raised had been addressed.

The bus boss said Stagecoach had taken action on services to local schools. After I raised concerns last month, the firm made changes to ensure students from Kingsdown could get home from school.

Mr Norwell also said Stagecoach had worked with KCC to ensure parts of Great Mongeham and Northbourne are covered after complaints were raised. Stagecoach has also added an additional journey between Eastry and Canterbury. Mr Norwell agreed to look closer at issues resulting from changes to services in St Radigunds and River.

Thank you to everyone who has got in touch with me about changes Stagecoach has made to services in our area. Judging by the sheer amount of emails, comments and letters, it's clear the firm has many questions to answer.

It's welcome that Stagecoach say they have made changes after people raised concerns – and that they are working with KCC to help cover some areas. Yet if anyone is still experiencing problems, I urge them to get in touch with me so I can take up their case."

Residents can get in touch with me by emailing charlie.elphicke.mp@parliament.uk or messaging on Facebook.

0 comments

Post a comment


12 OCT 2017

Schools are getting the investment we fought for

We're working hard to build a bright future for Dover and Deal. And everyone knows a vital part of that is supporting our schools. We have some incredibly bright and talented young people in our area. Every single one of them must be given the chance to thrive.

Across Dover and Deal, incredible work is being done by some truly amazing teachers and support staff. Take the inspirational Whitfield and Aspen School, where children with special educational needs mix with youngsters in the mainstream.

I visited Whitfield and Aspen last week to hear about their fantastic outreach programme. Staff go out to nurseries across Dover and Deal and help children who have special educational needs.

One youngster they helped was Darwin Burnett at Kid Ease nursery at the Triangles Centre. His family were really pleased with his progress and wanted him to go on to Whitfield and Aspen School. Yet they were having difficulty securing school transport for him. I was delighted to help out and to persuade Kent County Council to fund his transport. It was brilliant to meet Darwin last week. He really is a charming young lad and it's great to see his confidence growing.

Yet none of this would have happened without Whitfield and Aspen's amazing outreach programme. The school is looking to expand when the new Whitfield development goes ahead – so they can help even more youngsters.

I also visited Goodwin Academy on Friday for the official opening of the school's hugely impressive new £25 million building and facilities. It was great to be shown around by two polite and well-informed pupils, who looked very smart in their new school uniform. We fought a long and hard battle to deliver the new building for the Goodwin Academy. Thanks to everyone's determined efforts, this really is a school transformed. It's so good to see Dover and Deal getting the investment in education we fought for and deserve.

Another school which has undergone a complete transformation in recent years is Dover Christ Church Academy, with brand-new facilities and ever-improving results. While our excellent grammar schools continue to deliver outstanding results.

Lots of people spoke to me about school funding during the General Election campaign. I pressed the Government for action and now our schools are set to get a huge cash boost from the Conservatives' new national funding formula. Kent County Council should introduce the new system next year – boosting secondary school funding by an average of 7.2%, or £1.54 million.

I'm passionate about giving people ladders in life. Schools must give children the support they need to climb as far as their talents can take them. That's why we're fighting for our schools in Dover and Deal. Because no matter where you come from – every child must have the chance to get on in life.

0 comments

Post a comment


11 OCT 2017

Calling on the Chancellor to invest in Brexit border systems

I have called on the Chancellor to invest in upgrading border and customs systems now – so Britain is ready on day one for leaving the European Union, deal or no deal.

I highlighted the need to press ahead swiftly with the M20 lorry park project as Philip Hammond faced questions from myself and fellow MPs at a Treasury Select Committee hearing. The Chancellor had earlier written in The Times that funding should not be spent yet for preparations for no deal with the EU.

At the hearing, I told him: "Uncertainty is our enemy – but resilience is our friend. Why wouldn't we want world class border systems and road infrastructure? Why don't we make this investment that we need anyway? That means we are also in a really great position – deal or no deal."

The Chancellor said any spending on Brexit preparations would be "specific", depending on whether Britain strikes a deal with the EU – and what that deal will look like. I pressed the Chancellor on the need to get the proposed M20 lorry park at Stanford built in time to ensure "resilience" for Brexit.

The Treasury's recent Customs Bill white paper says that in the event of "no deal" over Brexit – the presentation of goods to customs "would take place inland as much as possible." Mr Hammond said the M20 lorry park "is one of the factors that needs to be considered".

I asked: "How resilient do you believe our borders system and customs system are to handle leaving the single market and customs union on March 29th, 2019?"

The Chancellor said: "We need to prepare for a wide range of scenarios. The commitment we have made is that we will be ready with the necessary minimum structures to operate to system on day one. Will everything we will ever need be in place by day one? Definitely it won't. We will build over time more refined infrastructure to deal with the situation we are facing – once we know what that situation is."

The Chancellor wrote in The Times that funding for preparations for no deal with the EU should only be spent "when it is responsible to do so".

At the hearing I also asked Mr Hammond under what circumstances he envisaged it would be "responsible" to spend funds on preparing for no deal. The Chancellor said where spending is "uniquely required in a no deal scenario... we need to work backwards from March 29th 2019 and identify where we need to make the commitment decision in order to deliver on time."

It's vital that investment in infrastructure like the M20 lorry park and world class border systems begins now. Rather than wait for the EU to get its act together, we must take action now. If we are ready on day one, we can forge ahead on day two.

0 comments

Post a comment


10 OCT 2017

Helping a young lad get transport to school

A four-year-old boy is loving life with his new classmates after receiving help to get transport to school.

Darwin Burnett started at Whitfield and Aspen School in September. The school had been helping Darwin, who has special educational needs, as part of their outreach programme while he was still at Kid Ease nursery at the Triangles Centre in Dover.

His family were really pleased with his progress and wanted him to go on to Whitfield and Aspen School. Yet they were having difficulty securing school transport for him. I wrote to Kent County Council and persuaded them to fund Darwin's transport.

It was brilliant to meet him last week. He really is a charming young lad and it's great to see his confidence growing. When his family were struggling with school transport I was delighted to help out.

I was shown around the school, where children with special educational needs mix with youngsters in the mainstream, by headteacher Joseph Cook and outreach coordinator Annmarie Formoy. They told me how staff visit 16 nurseries across Dover and Deal as part of their outreach programme. Six children recently went on to mainstream schools straight from nursery after receiving their help.

I was also shown plans for the school's expansion when the new Whitfield development goes ahead. Incredible work is being done by some truly inspirational teachers and support staff and Whitfield and Aspen School. It's clear their outreach programme makes a huge difference to so many youngsters.

It's great that the school is expanding – so they can help even more children.

0 comments

Post a comment


09 OCT 2017

Opening the new Goodwin Academy building

The official opening of the new £25 million building at the Goodwin Academy in Deal was held on Friday.

The ribbon was cut by The Admiral of the Fleet the Lord Boyce after guests were given a tour of the state-of-the-art facilities.

I was delighted to see the new building up and running after fighting a long and hard battle to secure funding for the school. It was great to be shown around by two polite and well-informed pupils, who looked very smart in their new school uniform.

The new Hamilton Road site, built next door to the current 1930s buildings in Mill Road, has capacity for 1,300 pupils. Equipment from the maritime studies centre based at the former Walmer Science College site was moved to the new building. Guests also had a look at the modern gym equipment inside the new sports hall.

We fought a long and hard battle to deliver the new building for the Goodwin Academy. Now some £25 million has been invested. Thanks to everyone's determined efforts, this really is a school transformed. It's so good to see Deal getting the investment in education we fought for and deserve.

0 comments

Post a comment


06 OCT 2017

Discussing crime concerns with the local police chief

Residents' concerns over local crime issues were discussed at a meeting between myself and the area's police chief.

I told Chief Inspector Mark Weller that people had raised a number of issues – including anti-social behaviour, drug dealing and speeding in some areas. Residents also sought reassurances over police presence in Deal.

Ch Insp Weller told me the local force would be looking into all the issues raised.

He said a Kent Police operation during the summer had resulted in a number of street drinkers being moved out of Dover town centre.

Ch Insp Weller, who started out as a police constable covering Dover and Deal in 1996, said tackling drug dealing was a top priority. He will also look at measures to tackle speeding – particularly around Dover's one-way system and in Capel. He insisted that police officers are in Deal covering the town every day.

It's great to have an area commander who knows the Dover and Deal patch so well. Ch Insp Weller clearly cares deeply about fighting crime in our area and is happy to take on board residents' concerns.

I'm pleased the local force will look at tackling the dangerous practice of drivers speeding around Dover's one-way system – and that Ch Insp Weller confirmed there are police officers in Deal every day.

Our local force do an incredible job. And it's great our area commander is engaged with the community and listening to people's concerns.

0 comments

Post a comment


05 OCT 2017

Dover and Deal are on the up

We're working hard to build a brighter future in Dover and Deal. And it's clear things are on the up in our beautiful corner of Kent.

The new cinema and shops at St James are set to open in the coming months. The £120 million Western Docks development is underway. Deal continues to go from strength to strength and was recently ranked as one of Britain's top coastal towns.

There are exciting times ahead and people I speak to when I'm out and about are really positive about the future. Indeed, last week research was published which said happiness in Dover and Deal has reached its highest levels since records began.

Our level of happiness in 2016/17 was 7.69, researchers found. This is above the national average of 7.51 and a big rise locally from 7.17 last year. When the Office of National Statistics started measuring personal well-being in 2011/12, the level of happiness in Dover and Deal was 7.38.

Life satisfaction in the constituency is also up year on year, while anxiety is down. More people feel what they do in life is "worthwhile" than in 2011/12.

Too often some people talk us down. Yet the truth is that Dover and Deal are on the up. We've come a long way in the past seven years. We stopped the port sell-off, got a new hospital built in Dover and safeguarded Deal's. We secured £500 million of investment for our area and unemployment has near halved.

People said we'd never get the fast train to Deal – yet now it sweeps into the station every day. People said Burlington House would be there forever – yet we kept fighting until it was torn down. Now the former St James site is transforming before our eyes. Meanwhile the rubble from Burlington House is being used to lay the foundations of the Western Docks Revival.

Of course, there is still much more to do as we build a brighter future for Dover and Deal. The most vital issue of our times is ensuring we are ready on day one for Brexit. We cannot have a situation where there are long queues of trucks clogging up our roads. That's why I've been working with industry experts to put together a plan setting out the action we need to take now at the Dover and Deal frontline.

If we get it right, we can enjoy a real boost from Brexit. I got 40 MPs together to write to the Chancellor, calling for duty free sales on travel to Europe to return after Brexit. This could help boost visitor number and our ferries.

Things are changing. We are working relentlessly – taking action to secure investment, plan ahead and build a brighter future for Dover.

And if there's one reason above all else to be happy – it's that we finally got rid of the 40mph limit on the A20!

0 comments

Post a comment


05 OCT 2017

Public support has safeguarded our greatest landmark for future generations

Our iconic White Cliffs are a symbol of freedom and our nation's wartime defiance.

I'm delighted that so many people have rallied together to raise £1 million in less than three weeks.

It just goes to show how deeply people care about protecting our greatest landmark for future generations to enjoy.

0 comments

Post a comment


05 OCT 2017

Border controls are a Brexit priority

Border control upgrades must be a Brexit priority, councils across the South East have told Brexit Secretary David Davis.

The leaders of South East England Councils (SEEC) and the South East Strategic Partnership for Migration (SESPM) have written a joint letter to Mr Davis.

I welcome the letter, which reflects many aspects of my Ready on Day One report presented to the Government earlier this year: http://www.elphicke.com/downloads/ready-on-day-one--meeting-the-brexit-borders-challenge.pdf

The letter says: "As UK negotiators work towards achieving the UK's exit from the EU, local authorities across the South East want to urge you to prioritise upgrading of border controls for passengers and freight in advance of Brexit."

It adds: "Dover and Shepway councils have particular concerns about the future of borders as they are the UK gateways for the Channel Tunnel and Port of Dover, which is the closest port to the European mainland."

The letter also calls for juxtaposed border controls at Dover and Calais to remain in place. And the Government is asked to pursue agreement on the future inspections required for food imported from the EU "as a matter of urgency".

It is great to see councils across the South East working together in this way.

It is in the national interest to ensure we are ready on day for every eventuality of leaving the European Union. Nowhere will preparations be more vital than at the Dover frontline.

0 comments

Post a comment


28 SEP 2017

Council leader leaves a legacy to be proud of

Last week Councillor Paul Watkins announced he would be standing down after 15 years as Leader of Dover District Council. And what an incredible 15 years it's been. So much has happened in our corner of Kent - so much has been transformed. And so much of that could not have been achieved without Paul Watkins playing a key role at every stage. Paul can look back with enormous pride at what he has achieved as leader of Dover District Council.

He has worked tirelessly, year after year, doing his level best to boost Dover, Deal and the villages. He battled every step of the way to defy the doubters. Doubters who never believed investment would be delivered in our community.

He leaves a legacy he can rightly be proud of. Deal is a town transformed. The fast train now sweeps into the station every hour. Cllr Watkins helped fight to deliver the service which has helped the town go from strength to strength. Projects he masterminded transformed the sea front and improved the High Street. Not only has Deal won high street of the year, it is ranked number one in a Times newspaper list of the top UK coastal towns.

Paul has worked tirelessly to make Dover and Deal open for business and to encourage investment in the area. When the financial crash hit and Asda pulled out of the Dover Town Investment Zone scheme (or 'DTIZ' as it was then known) it was a big setback. People walked along Townwall Street, looked up at Burlington House, shook their heads and thought about what might have been.

Yet Paul never gave in. He had a vision for the future and kept going regardless. When I was elected as MP in 2010, one of the first things Cllr Watkins and I talked about was reviving the town centre – and bringing down Burlington House. When I spoke to people around town, they told me it would never happen. This twelve-storey eyesore would blight our landscape forever.

Still Paul kept on going. And finally, in 2015 demolition crews started tearing down Burlington House brick by brick. In 2016 it was gone forever. A huge victory – a symbol of how things really are changing. Legal and General agreed to put more than £50 million into the St James scheme. Cineworld, Next, M&S, Nando's and many others signed up. And the exciting new development is set to open next year.

So much has changed since Cllr Watkins first joined the Council in 1983. Yet whether as ward councillor, chairman or leader – he has given his all to driving the district forward. Everyone can see how deeply this former Dover schoolboy cares about his community.

I wish him a happy retirement with his wife Christine, their two daughters and three grandchildren.

Cllr Watkins has done what he set out to do 15 years ago – and more. Incredible progress has been made. We will miss him as Leader of the Council. Paul can look back on all he has achieved with real pride.

0 comments

Post a comment


26 SEP 2017

Meeting a minister at the port to discuss Brexit

I met a Treasury minister at the Port of Dover to discuss why action must be taken now to ensure the border is ready on day one for Brexit.

Alongside Financial Secretary to the Treasury Mel Stride MP at the Eastern Docks, and Port of Dover chief executive Tim Waggott, we visited Border Force operations and spoke about plans to handle customs after Brexit.

It is clear we need to take action now to ensure our border is ready on day one for Brexit – particularly at the Dover frontline. I have been working with industry experts on detailed plans setting out what we must to do be prepared.

I'm pleased the Treasury is listening to our concerns. Yet now we need to see action – with more investment at the Channel Ports and making sure our customs systems are ready.

I have set out a range of measures that will help prepare the border for Brexit and keep traffic flowing freely, which I discussed with Mr Stride. My plan includes a 'trusted trader' scheme for lorry firms, so fewer customs checks have to be done at the border. I also want dualling of the A2 and the M20 lorry park to be prioritised.

It is in the national interest to ensure we are ready on day for every eventuality of leaving the European Union. Nowhere will preparations be more vital than at the Dover frontline.

0 comments

Post a comment


22 SEP 2017

We must make better use of Buckland

I have held crunch talks with local health chiefs – calling for urgent action to tackle A&E delays and better use of Buckland Hospital.

Last week I spoke with East Kent Hospital University Foundation Trust interim chief executive Liz Shutler and chairman Nikki Cole after Matthew Kershaw's resignation. 

Ms Shutler detailed several measures to improve emergency departments – including hiring 10 new doctors, opening three new treatment areas and an ambulatory care unit in Ashford, and expanding the facility in Margate.

She also agreed to look at bringing more services to Buckland Hospital in Dover.

It was great to speak with the trust's new chief, but I told her I have serious concerns. Emergency care in our hospitals is not good enough. People are waiting far too long to be seen.

The Government is pumping an extra £10 billion of cash into the NHS in real terms. Our trust needs to be run better – and I've been encouraged by the discussions I've had this week.

But I want to see real improvements. I want to see our brand new hospital in Dover being fully utilised, with more services. Ms Shutler promised to have a serious look at this and I welcome that commitment."

I have also been told a healthcare provider recently placed into special measures could have its contract terminated. Nestor Primecare Services – which delivers NHS 111 and out-of-hours doctor services across east Kent – was rated inadequate by the Care Quality Commission last month. A damning report said it put patients at risk with low staffing, untrained staff and delays in treatment.

I demanded South Kent Coast Clinical Commissioning Group take urgent measures to ensure patients in Dover and Deal were safeguarded. I have now been assured that a service improvement plan has been agreed, and that a 90-day notice to terminate the contract will be triggered if performance does not improve.

Inspectors say people in Dover and Deal have been put at risk by the new provider. That is unacceptable. We are getting more services at our local hospitals, but healthcare outside of them is just as important.

We must see Primecare deliver swift and significant improvements. If we do not, the CCG should stick to their word and sack them.

0 comments

Post a comment


21 SEP 2017

Caring for those affected by the Grenfell Tower tragedy

In the early hours of Wednesday, June 14th, a fire broke out in Grenfell Tower, West London. Many of us woke up that morning to horrific images on our TVs of flames engulfing the 24-storey building. At least eighty people were killed in the tragedy.

At such times we feel like we must do something to help those in need. Yet we ourselves feel helpless. What can we really do to make a difference? Local charities were bombarded with clothes and donations. Yet before long they started turning things away because they already had far more than they could handle. People here in Dover and Deal got in touch with me asking what could be done to help.

My first thought was what do we here have to offer in our corner of Kent? We have beautiful beaches, incredible history and lots of things to do. The victims of the fire should be offered the opportunity to enjoy all Dover and Deal has to offer.

I met with local hotelier Ian Dunkerley. He wanted to do something to help the victims too. His daughter works in a school just 400 metres from the tower. Hoteliers at The Clarendon, The King's Head and The Royal in Deal also offered to help.

We got our heads together and started planning an all-inclusive trip with local businesses. Dover Sea Safari offered a boat ride around the harbour. The Dover Marina Hotel said they could put on lunch. English Heritage provided tickets for Dover Castle and Walmer Castle. Dunkerley's Seafood Restaurant would do dinner. And the Clarendon Hotel offered an overnight room. All free of charge.

And last month I was delighted to welcome Judith and Rafthina Peterson down to Dover and Deal. We met in the square outside The King's Head in Deal where live music had been playing all afternoon in glorious sunshine. We had a long chat about the fire at Grenfell. How they had been made homeless. How their lives had been turned upside down. It was heart breaking to hear.

Yet when we asked how they had enjoyed their trip to Dover and Deal, big smiles appeared on their faces. They said they'd had a fantastic time and it was one the best breaks they'd ever had. Their local council said Judith and Rafthina returned to London with a spring in their step.

Of course nothing will ever put right that tragic day in June. Yet we wanted to show that every corner of the country cares deeply about what happened at Grenfell and the people affected by it.

Community spirit is one of our many strengths around here in Dover and Deal. We always rally around to help those in need. It's what makes me proud to live in this area and call it home.

0 comments

Post a comment


19 SEP 2017

A wonderful weekend in Dover and Deal

A fete raising money to save a village hall and a popular firework display were some of the local events I attended over the weekend.

On Saturday I went to Hougham Village Fete, held on West Hougham Village Green. Its aim was to raise money to repair the Village Hall, which I visited earlier this year and have since helped with efforts to find funding. The event itself had stalls and games including crafts, a dog show, a bouncy assault course, homemade treats and live music.

In the evening I attended the annual Nonington Firework Fantasy, held at Nonington Cricket Ground. Entertainment included a BBQ, fun fair rides, candy floss, live music, dancers and the spectacular firework display.

What a great way to see out the British summer in our glorious corner of the country. I've been very busy in Westminster recently working on detailed Brexit plans, but I really wish I could spend every day in Dover and Deal.

I want to give a huge congratulations to the organisers of both events. I had a lovely time and met some amazing people.

0 comments

Post a comment


18 SEP 2017

Our schools are set for a huge cash boost

Schools in Dover and Deal will get a huge cash boost from the new national funding formula. Funding for secondary schools would increase by an average of 7.2%, or £1.54 million, if the new system was adopted next year.

A new formula was demanded by headteachers across the country who said the old one was outdated and unfair. It is due to be introduced in two years. In the transition period (2018-19 and 2019-20) local authorities will draw up their own local formulas to allocate money.

But if the national formula was adopted next year, Astor College would get 11.1% more cash, Dover Grammar School for Girls 10.4% more, Dover Grammar School for Boys 9.4% more, St Edmund's Catholic School 9.1% more and Goodwin Academy 8.4% more. Overall, primary and secondary schools in Dover and Deal would get a 4.7% increase.

I am calling on Kent County Council to consider introducing it next year. The new method is much fairer. Experts say for the first time resources will be distributed according to the individual needs of every school.

It's clear Dover and Deal was let down by the old system. There were thousands less spent per pupil compared to parts of London. Lots of important factors weren't taken into account. I raised this with Government ministers plenty of times and they were right to take action.

The new system means schools in Dover and Deal are going to get a lot more money in the future. That is great news. But I want Kent County Council to consider how unfairly our area has been treated when they decide allocations next year.

Despite the transition period, funding for schools across the country will still increase well above inflation next year – by 3.4%. The £41 billion for 2017-18 will rise to £42.4 billion in 2018-19 and £43.5 billion in 2019-20. Additional investment will secure an increase for every pupil in every school, a minimum per pupil funding level, a minimum increase level for every school, and a big increase in high needs funding.

0 comments

Post a comment


16 SEP 2017

Dover and Deal are surging ahead in Kent

Official figures show Dover and Deal's economy is surging ahead of the rest of Kent.

The unemployment claimant count has reduced by more in the last year (by 228) than in any of the county's 12 districts.

Meanwhile the district now has the second lowest number of workless households (3,000) and the fourth highest number of full working households (23,000). It also had the second biggest rise in average annual earnings in Kent in a year, behind only Ashford.

This is all good news for the area. Back in 2010 Dover was near the bottom of the table when it came to jobs and money. Unemployment had risen for years under Labour, job prospects were limited and investment had dried up.

Since then £500 million has been secured for the area. Burlington House is down and the new hospital is up. Houses are being built at double the rate of the national average. A shopping centre and major seafront regeneration are on the way.

Deal continues to go from strength or strength and was recently voted one of the best coastal towns in Britain. We really are on the road to a brighter future for our area. Yet we must keep fighting for more jobs and money in Dover and Deal.

Official figures show there are now less than a thousand (869) Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA) claimants in Dover district, or 1.3% of the population.

The number is 228 less than a year ago and 65% down since 2010, when there were 2,527 claimants. Youth unemployment in the constituency is down 53% since 2010, from 660 claimants to 310.

And the latest annual pay survey found average annual earnings in Dover and Deal jumped by 10.1% in a year. 

Let's keep going. 

0 comments

Post a comment


15 SEP 2017

Seaside trip for Grenfell fire victims

I was proud to help organise a trip to Dover and Deal for two sisters caught up in the Grenfell Tower fire.

Judith Peterson, 53, and her sister Rafthina, 57, enjoyed a boat ride around Dover harbour, lunch, a special exhibition at Dover Castle, live music on Deal seafront, dinner at a seafood restaurant and an overnight stay in a hotel. They visited Walmer Castle the next day.

The pair were made homeless following the Grenfell Tower fire in West London on June 14th which killed at least 80 people.

I met with Ian Dunkerley, who runs Dunkerley's Seafood Restaurant Hotel, soon after the Grenfell tragedy. We decided we wanted to do something to help the victims of the fire. Hoteliers at The Clarendon, The King's Head and The Royal in Deal all offered to help too.

Of course nothing will ever put right that tragic day in June. But we wanted to show that every corner of the country cares deeply about what happened at Grenfell and the people affected by it.

Community spirit is one of our many strengths around here in Dover and Deal. We always rally around to help those in need. I am so proud to live in this area and call it home.

The boat ride around the harbour was organised by Dover Sea Safari, lunch was put on by the Best Western Plus Dover Marina Hotel & Spa, English Heritage provided tickets for Dover Castle and Walmer Castle, Dunkerley's Seafood Restaurant put on dinner, and the Clarendon Hotel offered an overnight room. All was provided free of charge.

Judith said: "I had a fantastic time. Everyone was really lovely. They looked after me.

"I'd never been to Dover and Deal before and it was one of the best breaks I've ever had."

0 comments

Post a comment


14 SEP 2017

Pollution yet another reason for new Deal to Dover road

The roads to Dover and Deal are put under huge strain every day. Thousands of lorries travel along the A20 and A2 to the port. And thousands of cars go between Dover and Deal on the only main road available – the A258. Traffic levels have been rising for decades. Yet the capacity to handle it is the same. It's no surprise the roads so easily get congested.

This is why I've been fighting for more investment in our roads. To get the A2 dualled and the M20 lorry park built. We need to make sure the infrastructure is in place to be ready on day one for Brexit and avoid gridlock.

I'm also passionate about tackling pollution. That's why we fought to get queues of trucks out of Dover town. They are now queued at lights before they reach the first roundabout.

Yet pollution is also a problem in Deal. Last week I met with organisers from local campaign group Deal With It. They told me about their research showing air quality near Deal Castle is worse than in parts of central London. Nitrogen dioxide levels measured 52.9 micrograms per cubic metre. They tell me this was the only reading in East Kent to exceed the EU's legal limit of 40.

It is of serious concern that we have illegal pollution levels in the centre of Deal. Everyone knows congestion is a major cause of poor air quality. There is simply too much traffic in the centre of Deal. This is another reason why we need to think about a new road to the North of Deal – to stop traffic going through the town centre unnecessarily.

All this town centre traffic is not just polluting. The high levels of traffic on the A258 into Deal is also dangerous. In the past six years there have been 100 accidents. Over the last 15 years, 18 accidents have resulted in serious injuries. Five have been fatal. Each accident is down to driver error. Yet there is no doubt that the A258 itself is a major factor. This road simply cannot handle all the traffic that travels on it. And every time there is a crash, the road is closed. Even when there is not an accident, tailbacks are common, creating yet more engine fumes.

Deal is a great place – yet it would be greater still with less traffic and pollution in the town centre.

This is why so many people are saying we need better road access to Middle Deal and the North End that doesn't go through the town centre and Walmer. Residents tell me we should think about building a dualled spur from the A256 to connect to Middle Deal and the North End.

It's clear we must take action soon – to build clearer, cleaner and safer roads for Dover and Deal.

0 comments

Post a comment


11 SEP 2017

Congestion means air in Deal is worse than parts of London

Parts of Deal suffer worse air pollution than areas of central London. That is shocking and I want to see action to address it. 

Research carried out by local campaign group Deal With It found nitrogen dioxide levels measured 52.9 micrograms per cubic metre. The EU's legal limit is 40.

They were taking readings near Deal Castle as part of an air quality study by Friends of the Earth. The reading was the only one in east Kent to exceed the legal limit.

After meeting with Deal With It organisers last week, I believe it is further proof of the need for a new road into North Deal.

It's shocking that parts of Deal have worse air pollution than central London. Everyone knows congestion is a major cause of poor air quality. There needs to be less unnecessary traffic in the town centre. A new road direct to North Deal would help get cars out of the town centre and reduce pollution.

I have long called for safety improvements on the A258. I would like to see a new road built direct to North Deal, providing a faster route between the towns and relieving pressure on the existing route.

In recent weeks Tracy and Symon Squire – the parents of tragically killed cyclist Daniel – backed my campaign. Daniel Squire was 18 years old when his bike was struck from behind by a van on the A258 in 2013.

A total of 228 crashes have taken place on that stretch since 2003, including more than 100 between 2010 and 2016.

I want the authorities to look at building a new road to connect the towns, such as a dualled spur from the A256 to connect to Middle Deal and the North End.

0 comments

Post a comment


07 SEP 2017

Duty free return would boost Dover and Deal

The return of duty free sales on travel to and from the European Union would deliver a real boost for Dover and Deal. It would benefit the ferry industry, as duty free goods will attract more people to travel. And it will boost visits to our cruise port at the Western Docks. By having one non-EU stopover on a cruise, the entire journey becomes duty and tax free for passengers. The return of duty free would mean towns and regions home to ports or small airports across the whole nation would be better off.

We need to plan ahead for Brexit now – that includes reviving duty free which helps ports like our and regional airports too. This is why I organised a letter to the Chancellor, signed by 40 MPs, calling for duty free to be reinstated for trips to Europe.

Duty free sales between Britain and the EU were axed in 1999. Since then duty free has only applied on trips outside Europe. We need to bring these duty free sales back – to boost regional economies like Dover and Deal. It's also important that when duty free returns, people should also be able to continue to bring in personal imports from the EU like they can now.

We only need to make minor tweaks to current laws. Yet these changes need to be made in good time in order to give operators time to be ready on day one of Brexit. Preparations could take up to nine months for our ferry firms.

It is vital that we prepare now for every eventuality of Brexit – particularly at the Dover and Deal frontline. That's why I've been working with industry experts and business leaders on the action we can take. And the Government has recently published papers on how we can tackle the Brexit customs challenge. Forward-thinking politicians like Xavier Bertrand, who heads up the Calais region, have welcomed our work so far.

Yet it's clear from the behaviour of Brussels that no deal is a real possibility. The clock is ticking and the EU need to start negotiating seriously. That may not happen in time – which is why we need to be ready on day one, deal or no deal.

Ironically, the EU will be the big loser from no deal. For tariffs would hit Europe's exports to us twice as hard as they would hit our exports to them. No free-trade deal would mean Europe's exports to us would be hit for £13.2billion of tariffs. Meanwhile, tariffs on our exports to Europe would be just £6.5billion. Hopefully the economic realities will begin to focus minds in the EU and more progress can be made.

Yet we must be prepared for no deal. That means taking action now to be ready on day one. Getting ready for the return of duty free is part of that. And ensuring we are prepared for the customs challenges ahead at the Dover frontline.

0 comments

Post a comment


04 SEP 2017

Unemployment in Dover and Deal keeps falling

The unemployment claimant count in Dover district has fallen – while average earnings are up.

Official figures published last week show there are now less than a thousand (869) Jobseeker's Allowance claimants in the district, or 1.3 per cent of the population. The number is down 65 per cent since 2010, when there were 2,527 claimants.

Meanwhile, youth unemployment in the Dover and Deal constituency is down 53 per cent since 2010, from 660 claimants to 310.

And the latest annual pay survey has found that average annual earnings in Dover and Deal jumped by 10.1 per cent in a year.

We have some incredibly hardworking people here in Dover and Deal and these figures show the hard work is paying off.

There has been more than £400 million of investment in the area since 2010. In Dover the cinema and shopping complex is taking shape and a major port regeneration scheme is on the way. Deal continues to go from strength or strength. It was recently voted one of the best coastal towns in Britain.

This all shows that our plan to bring more jobs and money to our corner of Kent is working. Now we must keep pressing ahead – and build a brighter future for Dover and Deal.

0 comments

Post a comment


01 SEP 2017

Fighting for more jobs in Dover & Deal

More jobs and money for our area has long been a key priority. We've made real progress – unemployment has halved since 2010, with apprenticeships and young people being particularly successful. The latest official figures say average earnings in Dover and Deal rose 10% in a year. It's been great to see so many new businesses starting up or expanding.

In the heart of Dover steel frames are giving shape to the new cinema, shops and hotel that are being built. The £50 million St James development gets closer to completion every day. It will give such a boost to Dover and provide real momentum to the renewal of the town. Not long ago this site was home to the hated Burlington House. So much has changed.

In Deal, we fought hard to get the fast train. We succeeded and it's been a success. The prosperity it has brought the town has made a real difference – and Deal was recently voted one of the best coastal towns in Britain. I want to bring more jobs and money to the area. Like the fast train – a new, better road connecting Dover and Deal has the potential to do just that.

At the Port of Dover, they're handling record levels of traffic. This underlines the importance of our campaign to get the A2 dualled and the M20 lorry park built. The Western Docks revival, set to deliver a new marina and new jobs on the seafront, should make a real difference.

We need to make sure that we keep bringing in more jobs and money after we leave the European Union. Recently I took a group of MPs who represent port constituencies to meet the Brexit Minister. We stressed the importance of the port-related jobs in our areas. And we all agreed it is vital that Brexit is a success at our ports up and down the land. I will work tirelessly to ensure we are ready on day one for Brexit at the Dover frontline.

I'm passionate about helping people get into work. At my Jobs Fair earlier this year it was clear lots of businesses are recruiting locally. This is good news. Unemployment has plummeted since 2010, yet I want to see it fall even further – full employment is my aim so that everyone can get the best crack at life.

We have some incredibly hardworking people here in Dover and Deal and the hard work is paying off. There has been more than £500 million of investment secured for the area since 2010. We can deliver even more – and boost business and jobs.

This all shows that our plan to bring more jobs and money to our corner of Kent is working. Now we must keep pressing ahead – and build a brighter future for Dover and Deal.

0 comments

Post a comment


30 AUG 2017

Dover District Council can Save Our Banksy!

I launched a campaign in June to safeguard the Brexit-themed mural on the corner of Townwall Street and York Street in Dover. Officials have now confirmed Dover District Council CAN save the Dover Banksy.

I applied to Historic England to have the iconic artwork listed, and called on Dover District Council (DDC) to do everything possible to preserve it.

Historic England's planning director Dr Andrew Brown has said the building does not meet their test of "special architectural or historic interest". But Dr Brown confirmed DDC "have powers to safeguard the mural through normal development control measures".

This is great news. We now know the council can save the Banksy after all – whether that's through retrospective permission, stop notices, new planning applications, or other control measures.

I have passed this information to the council and urged them to do the right thing.

The huge mural appeared on the wall of the former Shakespeare Hotel in May. The building's owners, the Godden family, later released a statement saying they were exploring options for the removal or sale of the piece.

I called on Dover residents to back my campaign to save the Banksy. I approached Historic England and DDC, before asking Arts Minister John Glen for his support at a meeting at the House of Commons.

It had been said the former Shakespeare Hotel was due for demolition, but the council have confirmed there is no demolition order against it.

The building forms part of DDC's waterfront development plans. The council's masterplan is yet to be finalised.

There is still time to do the right thing and preserve this asset.

I had hoped the Banksy would be listed and given the greatest possible protection. But I'm delighted Historic England have confirmed Dover District Council can save this much-loved artwork.

People have travelled across the country to come and see it. It's a massive draw for visitors to Dover and we need to make it the centrepiece of any new development.

Dover is the Banksy's rightful home. To demolish it would be a crime against culture.

0 comments

Post a comment


30 AUG 2017

Duty free must be brought back after Brexit

Duty free sales on travel to and from the European Union must return after Brexit.

I have written to Chancellor Philip Hammond with the support of 39 Conservative MPs calling for duty free to be reinstated for trips to Europe from March 29th, 2019.

Duty free sales between Britain and the EU were axed by the EU in 1999. Since then duty free has only applied on trips outside Europe.

Bringing back duty free will boost regional economies like Dover and Deal. Towns and districts home to ports and smaller airports, as well as the ferry industry and airlines, are set to benefit most.

The return of duty free would deliver a real boost to Britain. The benefits would be felt across the nation – particularly in coastal communities and regional airports. Bringing back duty free would be a real boost to the ferry industry at ports from Dover to Holyhead - as well as regional airports from Aberdeen to the East Midlands.

The return of duty free could also boost UK cruise ship ports. By having one non-EU stopover on a cruise, the entire journey becomes duty and tax free for passengers.

The reintroduction of duty free on travel between the UK and EU states should occur two years from the triggering of Article 50 (March 29th, 2019). Duty free should be brought back - and people should also be able to continue to bring in personal imports from the EU like they do now.

The letter says: "These changes need to be made in good time in order to give operators time to be ready on day one of Brexit. We understand that preparations could take up to nine months for ferry firms and airport operators."

Only minor amendments to legislation on VAT, excise duty and excise goods are required to reintroduce duty free, according to industry experts.

0 comments

Post a comment


24 AUG 2017

Why we need a new, safer Deal to Dover road

Last week I met with Tracy and Symon Squire. Their son Daniel was killed when his bike was hit by a driver who had been texting earlier in the journey. Daniel was a keen tri-athlete with a bright future ahead of him. He secured a place in the Bolton Iron Man shortly before he was killed. Daniel was loved by everyone who knew him. This is every parent's worst nightmare. Tracy and Symon will never get over what happened.

The driver was irresponsible, yet the danger was made worse by too many vehicles driving too fast on a road that is too small – the A258. In the past six years there have been 100 accidents on the A258. Over the last 15 years 18 accidents have resulted in serious injuries. Five have been fatal.

Tracy and Symon have placed a memorial by the side of the road marking the spot where Daniel lost his life. The white bicycle stands as a silent reminder to drivers of the need for extra care and attention when travelling on this dangerous road. Each accident is down to driver error. Yet there is no doubt that the A258 itself is a major factor. This road simply cannot handle all the traffic that travels on it.

Moreover, every time there is a crash, the road is closed. Motorists then divert through narrow country lanes, often leading to scrapes and stand offs. Even when there is not an accident, tailbacks are common.

The problem with the A258 is not simply the weight of traffic on it. It is the main road out of Deal and Walmer. So traffic heading from Middle Deal and the North End go through the centre of Deal and Walmer, creating more pollution and congestion. The town is a great place – yet it would be greater still with less traffic and pollution in the town centre.

We need to think as a community what we can do about the A258 and reducing traffic and pollution in the centre of Deal. To my mind it's time to think about better road access to Middle Deal and the North End that doesn't go through the town centre and Walmer.

Three miles away from North Deal there is a near empty dual carriageway – the A256. A du

alled spur from the A256 could be built to connect to Middle Deal and the North End. It would do much to solve traffic problems suffered by the residents of Middle Deal. It would enable a new route out of the North End that would avoid Middle Deal and the town centre. Traffic travelling on the A258 would fall dramatically. Residents of Walmer would benefit too.

This is a serious matter that has been a cause of grave concern to our community for years. It's time to address it. I would like to hear what people think about creating a new entry to Deal and the difference that it could make.

1 comment

A258 what can we say,We moved to st margarets from deal,we love it here,but the near misses i see every day,going in to deal on this very busy heavily congested A258 road is a ACCIDENT waiting to happen,A proposal for us st margarets people at the junction turning right in to Deal, why if we sign the road with no turn Right in to Deal, turn left towards Dover have a roundabout at the next st margarets turn off junction to safely come back into deal,
- joanne strouts

Post a comment


22 AUG 2017

Meeting the Talk It Out team at their new cafe

A café set up to help people with mental health issues is going from strength to strength after receiving a £10,000 grant.

The Wellbeing Café, based in the Landmark Centre in Deal, is run by the Talk It Out mental health support group.

The café recently received the grant from the mental health and policing fund set up by Kent Police and Crime Commissioner Matthew Scott.

Talk It Out founder Tracy Carr, who I have worked with for some time, invited me to visit.

It was great to sit down for a chat with everyone at the Wellbeing Café, which is clearly so well loved by all those who attend.

The mental health and policing fund set up by the energetic Matthew Scott is a superb initiative. The £10,000 grant could not have gone to a more deserving cause.

Talk It Out makes such a huge difference to so many people and Tracy really is an inspiration to us all.

We must do all we can to support groups like this. That's why I'm fighting for a fairer share of healthcare and better mental healthcare in Dover in Deal.

0 comments

Post a comment


21 AUG 2017

Daniel Squire's parents back my calls to make A258 safer

The parents of tragically killed cyclist Daniel Squire are backing my calls to make the A258 safer.

Daniel Squire was 18 years old when his bike was struck from behind by a van near Ringwould on the Dover to Deal road in 2013.

A total of 228 crashes have taken place on that stretch since 2003, including more than 100 between 2010 and 2016.

Locals know the single carriageway for being busy throughout the day and heavily congested at peak times.

I wants the authorities to look at building a new road to connect Dover and Deal – to ease pressure, reduce journey times and improve safety.

Daniel Squire's parents, Tracy and Symon, agree. Tracy said: "Daniel was killed because of careless driving. But also because there are too many vehicles driving too fast on a road that is not wide enough.

"Daniel was loved by everyone who knew him, and we will never get over what happened.

"But if motorists become more aware of cyclists, if we manage to be part of making a major road in the area safer, his death will not be for nothing."

Symon added: "We were extremely close, working together at London Fancy Box in Dover and training together as members of Deal Tri.

"The road is a nightmare for cyclists, but there aren't a lot of alternative routes. We really need to try to make it safer in some way."

I have long called for safety improvements on the A258. I would like to see a new road built elsewhere, providing a faster route between Dover and Deal and relieving pressure on the existing road.

Everyone knows the A258 is too busy and too dangerous. It has been that way for years. The road is not fit to handle such high levels of traffic. The route must be made safer.

That's why we need to seriously consider building a new road to connect Dover and Deal. We need to see action on this, before any more serious incidents.

1 comment

This is a great idea and long overdue. Let's hope that this doesn't become political and that all sides of the political divide support this campaign
- Alasdair

Post a comment


18 AUG 2017

Let's get on with Brexit

Ask someone in Dover what they want the Government to do following last year's vote to leave the EU and they will tell you straight. Get on with it.

People want to know why it's all taking so long. They also ask why there's all this talk of transitional arrangements. These are fair questions – why can't be ready on day one in March 2019?

Seeking to answer this I have written a series of articles on how we can be ready on day one for Brexit. Deal or no deal. We need to be ready for no deal. Talks could break down over the EU's excessive demands and we need to be fully prepared if that happens. Here at the Dover & Deal frontline we are the tip of the spear – if we're not ready, ours is the community that will bear the brunt of it.

So what do we need to do to be ready on day one? We need to be ready to manage customs – using electronic filings like VAT there is no reason why there needs to be searches or queues at Dover. We need to keep a positive relationship with France and make sure the border stays in Calais. This matters to the French as much as to us. For if the border gets weaker at Calais, then Calais will become an even bigger magnet for migrants.

We need to be ready on day one to take back control of our borders and end uncontrolled EU immigration. This means we need to invest in our borders and in systems that ensure we know who is coming here and keep out criminals. Moreover we need to use intelligence to help our border officers focus on persons of interest and reduce passport queues for the law abiding majority.

I have also set out a plan to solve the tricky Irish question and how we can make the most of our new freedom to trade around the world on terms that work for Britain.

Finally, out of the EU we can do so much more to stop the disgraceful tax dodging by big international businesses – and we can build a renaissance of the regions. A renaissance built on Coastal Enterprise Zones which are treated as outside the UK for customs purposes. And a renaissance built on the return of duty free. Everyone loved the booze cruise – and it was great for Dover. Out of the EU we can bring it back and bring a new boost to our area.

Brexit means Brexit and we need to get on with it. We could and should be ready on day one. That way we can end uncontrolled immigration sooner, increase trade around the world, bring back duty free and take forward a renaissance of the regions that will benefit places like Dover and Deal.

0 comments

Post a comment


15 AUG 2017

High speed broadband in every corner of Dover and Deal

I welcome a commitment to deliver high speed broadband to every corner of Dover and Deal.

My campaign for faster broadband in rural areas has gone on for some time. Villages like Lydden and Temple Ewell currently get internet speeds of less than two megabytes per second – ten times slower than parts of Dover town.

I met with residents in March and laid out the case for improved speeds, contacting ministers and BT executives. A street cabinet with new fibres is now being installed in Lydden.

And Government has since committed to delivering universal broadband – meaning every part of Dover and Deal should have access to high speed broadband by 2020.

These days internet is such an integral part of people's lives. Yet the service in some of our rural areas is shameful.

For small businesses in our regions to thrive, we must have better broadband. These excruciatingly slow speeds make a mockery of modern Britain.

That is why I welcome the Government's commitment. I keep telling ministers how frustrating it is for my constituents and I am glad they have acted.

The Digital Economy Act 2017 introduced the idea of a broadband universal service obligation – requiring providers to deliver minimum speeds of 10 megabytes per second.

BT has volunteered a proposal to deliver the obligation, which the Government will consider over the coming months.

0 comments

Post a comment


14 AUG 2017

Hundreds of local businesses will have rates reduced

Hundreds of businesses in Dover and Deal will have their business rate bills reduced after I put pressure on ministers.

A business rates revaluation took place in February, but several firms criticised suddenly increased hikes.

I held meetings with business owners in the Dover and Deal area and took their views to ministers at the Department for Communities and Local Government.

This week Marcus Jones MP, the Minister for Local Government, announced several relief schemes which 628 firms in Dover district qualify for.

The New Burdens funding comes through three schemes – the Supporting Small Business Relief Scheme, the Discretionary Business Rates Relief Scheme and the Pub Relief Scheme.

Dover District Council has been identifying eligible firms since March. Leaders have been told to provide the relief and rebill them "as soon as possible".

I was very concerned to hear of hefty hikes for some businesses in our area. The revaluation was cost neutral, but certain types were hit hard and it is absolutely right for them to be supported while they adjust.

I raised this point in strong terms with ministers several times. I'm really pleased to see they listened.

With corporation tax reduced dramatically in recent years, new firms have been opening in our district and across the country at an amazing rate.

It's clear the Conservatives are still the only party that will deliver for businesses, jobs and the wider economy.

0 comments

Post a comment


07 AUG 2017

Joining the fight to save Hougham village hall

The West Hougham community is fighting to raise up to £15,000 to save their village hall.

Villagers feared the building, which dates back to the 1930s, would be sold off due to a lack of use.

But after losing their village pub, post office, and bus service in recent years, residents rallied together to fight to save the hall.

In June the community formed an action group called Heart of Hougham – and the hall now has regular parties and functions. It also hosts tennis and gardening clubs and regular yoga and Zumba classes.

Heart of Hougham organisers invited me to visit the hall and offer advice on how to get funding to restore it.

I said I would back a bid for funding from the National Lottery. I have also written to Dover District Council asking if there is any cash available to help.

I was delighted to visit West Hougham village hall. It's a fantastic building and it's great to see it back in use again. We must do all we can to keep it running.

What impressed me most was the incredible community spirit in the village. They have rallied together and shown that people power really can make a difference.

It's exactly the sort of project the National Lottery should be backing. And Dover District Council should also see what they can do to help.

Residents also raised the issue of infuriatingly slow broadband speeds in the village. Mr Elphicke has taken up their case and written to BT and Kent County Council urging them to swiftly boost broadband in the area.

West Hougham village fete, organised by Heart of Hougham, will be held on the village green from 1pm on Saturday, September 16th.

0 comments

Post a comment


07 AUG 2017

Dover cheerleaders under threat

A hugely successful group of Dover cheerleaders may have to leave the district unless they find a new hall.

Some 200 youngsters from the Vista Twisters could be left without a place to practice when Dover Leisure Centre closes.

I met with head coach Ruth McDade at one of the group's practice sessions. She said that the club had so far been unable to secure space at the new leisure centre in Whitfield for their growing programme.

The group have been looking for alternative accommodation in the district. But they have not found anywhere suitable – and fear they may have to move to Folkestone.

I have written to Dover District Council, urging them to help the Vista Twisters find a new place to practice.

The Vista Twisters are a massive Dover success story. The council must do everything they can to keep this club in the district.

These youngsters always do the town proud when they perform in competitions across the country – and in tough European contests too.

We should be looking after them – and helping them build on their incredible success here in Dover.

0 comments

Post a comment


03 AUG 2017

Gridlocked again - why we must be Ready on Day One

Twelve months on from last year's disaster, the roads to Dover were once again in gridlock this weekend. The A20 had queues stretching back to the Roundhill Tunnels. While on the A2 traffic jams stretched back to Lydden. Cars and lorries started to pile through Capel and Folkestone Road on the B2011.

Year after year it is the same. Last summer the traffic chaos was caused by French border officers failing to turn up for duty. This weekend adverse weather conditions and a P&O ferry breaking down led to the tailbacks. It happens all too easily and all too often – and shows that our infrastructure is too finely balanced to cope properly. The people of Dover suffer every time – and so does the nation as delays at the port costs our national economy dear.

Action is needed now. We need more investment in the roads to the Channel Ports. The A2 needs to be dualled, the M20/A20 to be expanded and the lorry park to be delivered on time. The Government needs to be better prepared for French strikes, bad weather or ageing ferries conking out.

Very soon we will also face the challenge of Brexit here at the Dover frontline. That's why I have put together a detailed report with industry experts and business leaders on the action we must take now to ensure we are ready on day one for every eventuality.

Stories in the national press this week warned that we will be hit by huge border delays and suffer more than £1bn a year in economic damage when we leave the European Union. The truth is that Brexit can be a huge success for Britain and for Dover – but only if we are prepared. At the moment the Government is not doing enough to be prepared. So I am pressing them to get a grip and do better.

That includes accelerating investment in the technology and infrastructure we need to keep trade flowing freely through our ports. With fellow MPs I have been urging the Treasury to move faster in preparing our border for Brexit. Especially to take on board that for customs, the border is a tax point - not a search point - and that with digital borders customs clearance can be managed incredibly quickly. In Singapore, for instance, clearance takes less than a minute.

We have also been urging the Department for Transport to invest in roads and infrastructure to ensure Britain is Brexit ready on day one at Dover and the Channel Ports. It is concerning the Department for Transport appears more interested in Crossrail than cross-border trade. For too long Britain has worked for big cities like London rather than the towns and regions. This has to change. We need a renaissance of the regions.

With Brexit less than two years away, we must have real investment at Dover. There are huge opportunities to increase our trade across the globe when we leave the EU. We must invest in our borders now to ensure we can boost business from day one.

0 comments

Post a comment


02 AUG 2017

Migrant centres will not help Calais

I am not happy about plans to set up migrant centres in Calais. I worked very hard to get rid of the vast makeshift camp that had sprung up before. 

But now French courts have ruled that there must be facilities in place for 300 to 400 migrants in the area. There were many more of them last year - several thousand in fact - which proves we were right to have it dismantled. 

There is a real risk that setting up these two new centres will make Calais even more of a migrant magnet.

It means thousands more vulnerable people will be encouraged to make the perilous journey across Europe - with many falling into the hands of ruthless traffickers.

We cannot allow a new Jungle or Sangatte to spring up in Calais yet again.

Our border needs to be more secure than ever - particularly at the Dover frontline.

And the French must be on high alert to protect tourists and truckers from attacks by trafficking gangs.

1 comment

Why must there be facilities for migrants in the area? Why are they not sent back to the first country that they entered? What about lorry drivers who have to run the gauntlet of migrants trying to get tnto their lorries? What will it take? Maybe when a lorry driver is killed they might take notice instead of shirking their responsibilities.
- B.Harrison

Post a comment


31 JUL 2017

Demanding faster and more frequent trains

The fast train should travel from Dover to London in sixty minutes and Deal needs two high-speed services every hour, I have told the Transport Minister. 

My "essential requirements" were included in a letter to Paul Maynard. Co-signed by 10 other Kent MPs as well as Bromley and Chislehurst MP Bob Neill, it comes in response to the Department for Transport's consultation on the South Eastern franchise. Operators are bidding to run the train franchise from 2018 to 2027.

The letter calls for extra carriages on overcrowded services during peak hours and expresses concerns over the quality of service offered to customers of Govia's Southeastern.

It says: "Passengers are dissatisfied. With insufficient room to stand at times and with some season tickets at more than £6,000 they feel they are not getting value for money."

We list several essential requirements that the new operator must put in place. They include:

Faster services to East Kent – in particular to Dover in an hour (Dover in 60), two trains to Deal and Sandwich every hour and a one hour service from London to Thanet; The modernisation of the points and signalling on the Kent Fast line to facilitate overtaking and faster services; Better connections with Gatwick Airport, in particular the restoration of direct services from Tunbridge Wells & Tonbridge.

The letter also sets out a number of essential requirements for Network Rail. They include:

Significant improvement in its contribution to train performance; A plan to further reduce journey times;Improvements to the Tonbridge to Hastings infrastructure for Kent and East Sussex; Capacity improvements at Ashford including connecting the high-speed line to the line at Rye and Hastings;Sufficient capacity at major stations to cope with the forecast growth in demand;Improvements in signalling on the route from Ashford to Folkestone, Dover, Deal, Sandwich and Ramsgate, and completion of the East Kent re-signalling scheme between Canterbury West and Ramsgate.

People said we would never get the fast train in Deal. Yet thanks to our community campaign it now sweeps into the station every hour of every day. Now we need to see the service improve – with two high speed services for Deal and Sandwich an hour.

And we need to see the fast train get to Dover in sixty minutes or less. Faster services will attract even more people to visit our stunning corner of Kent.

It's great that the Kent MPs have yet again united to fight for better services in our county. Together we make a powerful case and I hope the Transport Minister considers it carefully.

1 comment

Drop Ebbsfleet from the Kent Coast services. It serves no purpose on peak services as they are already full by Ebbsfleet, there are no people boarding/leaving on off peak services and it cuts at least 6-7 minutes from the journey by not having to slow down, stop and accelerate again. Ebbsfleet is served by more than enough HS trains without overloading the 6 car Kent coast trains. The two stops in Folkestone also needs looking at.. 2 stations 400 yards apart is pretty silly, and no new stops at Otterpool if it ever gets built.
- Steve Coleman

Post a comment


27 JUL 2017

Our ports must be ready to thrive after Brexit

At a meeting with Brexit Minister Steve Baker MP on Wednesday (July 19th) Conservative MPs and I raised our concerns over preparations for Brexit at Britain's ports and discuss solutions to ensure that the UK's ports are ready to thrive after Brexit.

With both MPs and members of the European Research Group (ERG) present, we stressed the importance of protecting port-related jobs and preventing long queues of lorries.

The meeting came after Amyas Morse, Comptroller General of the National Audit Office, raised concerns over the Government's post-Brexit IT system to record declarations on imports and exports.

As we prepare to leave the European Union we need to make sure that we are in the best position possible to succeed and prosper in the world. A vital part of these preparations must be ensuring that our ports are Ready on Day One.

We all agree that is vital that Brexit is a success at our ports up and down the land – particularly at the Dover frontline.

Of course, we hope that a trade deal will be done with the EU that will enable tariff-free trade to continue. Yet if on day one no trade deal has been agreed, we must be fully prepared.

Gridlock at out ports will mean gridlock for the UK economy. Yet with proper planning we can not only be ready on day one – we can make Brexit a real success.

Together we can build a new Britain that is a great, global trading nation.

After the meeting Brexit Minister Steve Baker MP said: "The preparedness of our borders for success on day 1 of exit under all scenarios is a clear priority for the Government. Colleagues representing ports are doing a fine job of representing their constituents concerns together with potential solutions. We will consider these alongside our current, well-developed plans."

0 comments

Post a comment


27 JUL 2017

Remembering the brave members of the Dover Patrol

On Sunday I laid a wreath in remembrance at the Dover Patrol Memorial.

The service was held in memory of the members of the Royal Navy who risked and gave their lives defending our nation.

Around 2,000 members of the Dover Patrol died during the First World War.

We must never forget the great sacrifice members of the Dover Patrol made to keep Britain safe during the First World War.

I was proud to lay a wreath at the memorial on Sunday. It was an incredibly moving service.

It is so important that we remember everyone who lost their lives. We will never forget the sacrifices they made for our country.

0 comments

Post a comment


27 JUL 2017

My vision for a fairer share of healthcare in Dover and Deal

Last week I was delighted to meet with East Kent's Fair Deal for the NHS group. Like me they are passionate about our NHS. We all felt strongly that healthcare has to remain free to all. They had many questions about what's happening locally and inspired

me to write about my vision for a fairer share of healthcare here in Dover and Deal.

We've come a long way together since 2010. In Deal, our much-loved hospital had been left teetering on the edge. Only with a strong community campaign were we able to secure its future. Now I'm working to see more services are provided from Deal Hospital.

In Dover, for over a decade Buckland Hospital had been decimated. Services were withdrawn and wards axed one by one. We fought valiantly for a new hospital. Then two years ago the new Buckland Hospital opened to the public – a state-of-the-art facility with the potential to provide many more services. I am passionate to see more outpatients and diagnostics services are provided at the new Buckland Hospital.

And we need beds at Buckland too. Right now there is a great opportunity to commission care beds at a new facility right next door to Buckland Hospital. This care facility is brand new and run by a crack team of expert staff. We should be grabbing the chance for local health chiefs to commission care beds in Dover, right next door to our hospital.

Millions of pounds are wasted every year by health services and social services doing the same job. We need to bring health and social care together and be better at looking after people who have complicated long-term conditions. More money is going into the NHS than ever before – more than half a trillion pounds in the next five years. Since 2010 there are 11,000 more doctors and 12,000 more nurses and midwives. Yet the system is still struggling, largely because people are living longer – which is why it is so urgent to reform social care.

So my vision is for a bigger role for our hospitals in Dover and Deal. We need to make full use of the £24 million Buckland Hospital. Deal Hospital needs more services, like the ground-breaking Rheumatology clinic which opened last year.

We need more of a focus on mental health too. Last week I visited the Talk It Out mental health support group at their inspiring Wellbeing Café at The Landmark Centre in Deal. The group recently received a £10,000 grant from Matthew Scott, the energetic Kent Police and Crime Commissioner's mental health and policing fund. Talk It Out makes such a huge difference to so many people and we must do all we can to support groups like this.

More local services, more care beds and more mental health support. This is my vision for a fairer share of healthcare here in Dover and Deal.

0 comments

Post a comment


20 JUL 2017

Our front line must be Ready on Day One

This week I met with the Brexit Minister to discuss the importance of investing in our ports – particularly at the Dover and Deal frontline. As we prepare to leave the European Union we need to make sure that we are in the best position possible to succeed and prosper in the world. A vital part of these preparations must be ensuring that our ports are Ready on Day One.

I took a group of MPs who represent port constituencies to meet the Minister. We stressed the importance of the port-related jobs in our areas. And we all agreed that is vital that Brexit is a success at our ports up and down the land.

Nowhere will our preparations for Brexit be more important than at the Dover and Deal frontline. When we voted to leave the EU last June, I got to work straight away. The first thing to do was get the Calais Jungle dismantled. We worked closely with the French and within months the migrant camp was gone

I also met industry experts and business leaders in Parliament. With their help, I put together a detailed plan to keep trade flowing and ensure that we can thrive as a global trading nation post-Brexit.

Of course, we hope that a trade deal will be done with the EU that will enable tariff-free trade to continue. Yet if on day one no trade deal has been agreed, we must be fully prepared.

This means putting in place simple things like a Trusted Trader Scheme for haulage firms – and mutual recognition of meat products. And we need investment in state of the art technology to deal with customs checks rapidly. Singapore's average customs clearance time is 10 seconds. If we invest now, goods can move just as swiftly through Dover.

We also urgently need investment in our roads. The new Thames Crossing must be taken forward at speed. The M2/A2 needs to be upgraded and dualled all the way to the Channel Ports. And the planned M20 Lorry Park must be delivered on time.

Too often vested interests get in the way and it takes years to build the simplest road. Yet we have less than two years to get ready. That's why I'm campaigning for a Brexit Infrastructure Bill. We need a powerful new law to speed through administrative processes to enable vital projects to be delivered on time.

So far there's been a lot of posturing from Brussels, which comes as no surprise. But the reality is that it is in both Britain and Europe's interests for trade to grow. The French are just as keen as we are to keep tourists and truckers moving freely across the Dover and Calais border.

That's why my plan matters – so we are prepared for every eventuality to keep trade flowing across the English Channel.

2 comments

Well done Charlie Elphicke for putting in so much time and effort into this plan. The future for the UK Border can be very bright if we get the green light to implement it.
- Tony Smith CBE

Great news Mr Elphicke that you are still doing all you can to make the passage of goods as easy as it can be considering the situation.I have been a private importer for 40 years and remember the days of C10'sC12's T2L,s certificate of origin forms.Waiting at customs for many hours.The sad night in March 1987 when The Hereld filled with water leaving Zeebrugge. We can not and must not go back to that.This result was never expected so nothing was planned I can see that.Please keep up you great work and perhaps you should consider standing as the next party leader.I believe you would have great support. Deal
- Peter Murphy

Post a comment


19 JUL 2017

More proof evil traffickers will stop at nothing

People traffickers are in the news again after three people were arrested trying to smuggle migrants into the UK - on a plane.

The British pilot of a four-seat Cessna plane was arrested, along with two other UK nationals, at an airport in Calais before it took off.

Four Albanian migrants were found on-board and it is understood they had been due to fly to these shores. An investigation into the incident by French authorities is underway.

Yet again we see that ruthless people traffickers will stop at nothing to break migrants into Britain.

We've cracked down on smuggling through lorries, dinghies and small boats. Now they are using light aircraft.

We cannot allow this latest extreme tactic to take off. We must smash the trafficking gangs and end their evil trade of modern slavery.

0 comments

Post a comment


18 JUL 2017

Finally, the A20 limit is gone!

It was a huge victory for residents when the hated A20 40mph speed limit was finally axed on Monday night. 

I have battled relentlessly to return the Folkestone to Dover dual carriageway to 70mph – with the 40mph limit only enforced on the rare occasions Dover TAP is in place.

Last year Highways England finally caved into my campaign and agreed to make the speed limit variable.

The permanent 40mph limit was removed before the morning rush hour on Tuesday.

Highways England should have got this work finished much sooner. But at long last the speed limit is being lifted.

This will be a huge relief to drivers across Dover and Deal. I would like to say thank you to every single resident who has written to me and Highways England to help our campaign.

I have also been informed the London bound A20 lane closure will be removed on Thursday (July 20), with no more road full closures to be carried out during the summer period.

The scrapping of the limit comes after I held a public meeting in Aycliffe on tackling traffic problems. Dozens of residents turned out at Aycliffe Church Centre to grill highways chiefs.

Residents raised the issue of lorries parked up by the Western Heights roundabout causing noise and air pollution. They said they want the traffic lights moved back down the A20, away from their estate.

I urged Highways England's area managing director Simon Jones to look again at whether this can be done.

0 comments

Post a comment


18 JUL 2017

New care home can tackle bed-blocking in our hospitals

I visited a new state-of-the-art care home built next door to Buckland Hospital.

Willow Park Lodge in Coombe Valley Road, run by Athena Healthcare Group, offers a range of community care and includes a cinema, hair salon and library. But I would also like to see respite care beds commissioned at the site.

I have put South Kent Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) in contact with the care home managers and urged them to make use of it. The CCG has agreed to visit the care home.

It was a pleasure to be shown around Willow Park Lodge by their expert staff. It is a first class facility. The company has considerable experience in delivering a range of social care types.

I think we should be grabbing the chance to have step down care beds commissioned in Dover, right next to our Buckland Hospital. Too many beds are blocked by people ready to be discharged but with nowhere to go. Too many Dover residents are sent to all corners of east Kent to recover. Health bosses at South Kent Coast Clinical Commissioning Group must make sure it is utilised.

Each floor of the four-storey care home has been designed to cater for specific needs. The ground-floor provides a hotel-style service for people with low levels of dependency. The upper two floors look after those with higher dependency conditions like dementia, Alzheimer's or Parkinson's. Options for the top floor are still being considered, and I think health chiefs to explore options of commissioning respite care.

0 comments

Post a comment


16 JUL 2017

A busy weekend in the constituency

During a busy weekend in the constituency I presented an award and attended two village fayres.

I went to Whitfield recreation ground for Whitfield Village Fayre on Saturday, presenting a Kent Association of Local Councils Community Award to Pat Goldfinch, who has been Brownie Leader in Whitfield since 1974.

I want to give a huge congratulations to Pat Goldfinch for her incredible efforts across four decades.

On Sunday I attended Nonington Village Fayre, enjoying the stalls, entertainments and craft shows.

Our area really is the place to be over the Great British summer. If it was up to me I would spend every day in Dover and Deal.

I want to thank everyone who has helped organise our superb village fayres this year. They really are fantastic events and I urge as many people as possible to go along if they can.

0 comments

Post a comment


13 JUL 2017

Great news! The A20 speed limit is going

It was fantastic to see so many people turn out in Aycliffe on Friday to make their voice heard on traffic issues. It was a beautiful evening – perfect weather for a cold pint in a pub garden. Yet such is the strength of feeling in this community that every seat was filled in Aycliffe Church Centre. At least 20 more people stood at the back.

I organised the public meeting to give everyone a chance to put their views to those in charge – so we can work together to fix our roads. And it was great to see so many residents come along and ask important questions.

Aycliffe residents raised the issue of lorries parked up by the Western Heights roundabout causing noise and air pollution. Worst of all is when HGVs take a wrong turn and start driving round residential roads at night. So it's good to see Highways England have taken action and installed a gate at the entrance to the estate. Residents agreed this had made a big difference.

The people of Aycliffe also want the traffic lights at the roundabout moved back down the A20, away from their estate. I urged Highways England's area managing director Simon Jones to look again at whether this can be done.

Others highlighted the number of foreign lorry drivers flouting the A20 40mph speed limit. Kent Police's Inspector Ian Swallow said the force lacked the powers to give these drivers on-the-spot fines, like they do in France. I will keep up the pressure in Parliament to change the law and give police the powers they need.

Some lorry drivers use the B2011 through Capel and Elms Vale, as well as the Alkham Valley Road, as rat-runs to the port. Mr Jones said he would look at how we can stop HGVs diverting through these routes. He said Highways England and the port are working together to redirect trucks onto the M2/A2 rather than the M20/A20. Mr Jones confirmed they are looking at whether the A2 can be dualled.

The A20 40mph limit is the root cause of many of these problems. It's welcome to see that after a long and hard-fought campaign, Highways England have finally started scrapping it. Soon the work will be complete to return the road to 70mph – with the 40mph limit only enforced on the rare occasions Dover TAP is enforced. This should tackle the problem of lorries using the villages as rat-runs. Yet we must remain vigilant.

The representatives from Highways England, Kent Police and the Port of Dover were faced with tough questions on Friday. Yet they gave a very good account of themselves and received a deserved round of applause – as did Aycliffe's Ray Williams who did a great job helping me chair the meeting.

Much has been done to tackle gridlock and fix our roads. It is vital we work together to keep up the pressure.

0 comments

Post a comment


09 JUL 2017

Royal Marines Concert reinforced what we stand for

I laid a wreath at another poignant Royal Marines Concert.

Thousands gathered in front of Deal Memorial Bandstand on Walmer Green. The annual event pays tribute to 11 people killed in the Deal barracks bombing in 1989.

This year local Sea Cadets and The Victory Wartime Band warmed up the famous Royal Marines Band.

Opening songs were followed by an act of remembrance and rededication service, before rousing renditions of Rule Britannia and Land of Hope and Glory ended the day.

It was fantastic to be part of a massive crowd enjoying wonderful music in the sunshine. But we must never forget what is being honoured when the Royal Marines Band returns every July.

Our town was attacked by evil terrorists. The lives of 11 totally innocent musicians were taken. Their families will never recover.

As a country we have come a long way since then, and recent events should only reinforce what we stand for. The Royal Marines' beautiful music captured it perfectly – the British solidarity we have always had, and will always need.

I want to thank the Deal Memorial Bandstand trustees for organising another superb, poignant event.

0 comments

Post a comment


07 JUL 2017

Praising progress at the new Goodwin Academy site

I looked around Goodwin Academy's new school site recently and was amazed at the progress made. 

I was given a tour by Principal Simon Smith and construction firm Kier of the state-of-the-art facilities being built at Hamilton Road, Deal.

We fought a long and hard battle to secure funding for the school. Now some £25 million has been invested – with the new school building set to open in September.

I was incredibly impressed with the new building. 

This school has made brilliant progress over the last few years. Huge credit goes to Mr Smith, his hardworking staff and the pupils.

The smart new uniform they will soon be wearing is also top class.

Thanks to all our determined efforts, this really is a school transformed. It's so good to see Deal getting the investment in education we fought for and deserve.

The new site, being constructed next door to the current 1930s buildings in Mill Road, will have capacity for 1,300 pupils.

Equipment from the maritime studies centre based at the former Walmer Science College site has now been moved to the new building in Hamilton Road.

I also had a look at the modern gym equipment inside the new sports hall.

Now we just need the school to keep going from strength to strength to become an "outstanding" educational institution.

0 comments

Post a comment


06 JUL 2017

Pressing for action on pavement parking

I am calling on the Government to tackle dangerous pavement parking – which puts blind and partially-sighted people's lives at risk.

I attended a guide dogs event at the House of Commons on Monday and heard from guide dog owners how parked cars blocking paths force them to walk into oncoming traffic they cannot see.

Some face these dangerous situations on a daily basis, risking their safety every time they go shopping or make the school run.

No one should be forced to walk out into oncoming traffic by cars parked on the pavement.

The Government must take action to end problem pavement parking across the country. Blind and partially-sighted people should be able to walk the streets without fear.

0 comments

Post a comment


06 JUL 2017

Calling for a rethink of bus service cuts

At a meeting last week I demanded that Stagecoach bosses rethink plans to scrap bus services.

The firm recently launched a two-week consultation over changes to their commercially-operated routes. It would mean some villages losing their only regular service.

I asked for the consultation period to be extended and Stagecoach agreed, pushing its deadline back to July 3.

I then met with the area's managing director Philip Norwell on Friday (June 30).

I am still furious that some people in this area face losing their only regular service. It's clear the original plans were badly thought through.

Yet Stagecoach have now promised to rethink scrapping route 15B, which would leave River residents sitting on a bus for an hour-and-a-half just to get to Canterbury.

They also said they would reconsider changes at Eastry, which would be left with only an hourly service.

And they pledged to hold talks with Kent County Council about ensuring villages left without any buses continue to get a bus service.

These promises are all very welcome, but they must result in action. So many people rely on buses to get around and they deserve a decent service.

0 comments

Post a comment


06 JUL 2017

Crunch talks with Highways England

I am calling on residents who are fed up with noisy lorries to attend a public meeting I have organised so we can demand answers from highways chiefs.

I have organised the crunch talks with Highways England to take place on Friday, July 7, at Aycliffe Church Centre, Old Folkestone Road, Dover, CT17 9HN at 7pm.

This is a chance to grill highways bosses on noise and air pollution in Aycliffe from lorries when the A20 Dover TAP scheme is in place. I also want action on enforcing speed limits in Capel and keeping cumbersome HGVs out of Elms Vale.

Highways England's area managing director Simon Jones will be in attendance, along with Kent Police Inspector Ian Swallow, Dover District Council chief executive Nadeem Aziz and the Port of Dover Police.

After a hard-fought campaign Highways England have finally started scrapping the hated A20 40mph limit. Soon the work will be complete.

Yet there is still more to do. Aycliffe folk are fed up with lorry drivers blaring horns, polluting the air and blocking their estate.

Capel residents have had enough of dodgy diversions and speeding. And people in Elms Vale want to keep cumbersome HGVs off their roads.

This meeting is a chance for everyone to put their views to the people in charge. Please join me so we can work together to fix our roads.

The meeting comes as work to scrap the 40mph speed limit on the A20 nears completion. Highways England say it will be gone by the end of July.

The national speed limit will return, with digital signs enforcing a 40mph restriction when there are serious traffic problems in Dover.

0 comments

Post a comment


06 JUL 2017

Why Dover is great

A publicity-seeking website seeks to mock Dover and rubbish our town. They probably think they're hilarious. But I don't find it amusing. I doubt these website people have ever even been to Dover. It's unacceptable for the sneering classes to talk our town down.

Let's look at the facts. Dover is a town with outstanding heritage. We have the greatest castle in the land, along with our iconic White Cliffs and the fantastic Roman Painted House. Let's not forget the Bronze Age Boat in the Dover Museum. Dover has a vibrant history. There are too many stories to tell here – but this is the town that repelled Julius Caesar and saw off Napoleon. It was here that the triumph of Dunkirk was planned and under these skies that the Battle of Britain was fought and won.

Yet it's not just our history which makes our town great. It's also the future we're building here and now. We are home to Europe's busiest ferry port and trade is booming. A new cinema and shops are rising at the St James site. Meanwhile the Western Docks Revival is set to bring 600 jobs and a new marina to the seafront.

Of course, there is work to be done. I'm deeply concerned by reports of street drinkers blighting park benches. We had this problem a few years ago before we worked with Kent Police to boot them out. I'm writing to Dover's Chief Inspector to seek urgent action once again to clear the town centre of this problem.

With the rise of internet shopping we need to rethink how high streets work across the land. While some shops have been closing, other exciting business ventures have been springing up. Dover is now home to several brilliant micropubs. Their huge popularity is a sign of how our high street may change going forward – with more independent bars, pubs, shops and cafes. We need to encourage more entrepreneurs to set up shop.

We must make sure we link our stunning promenade to the town centre. One flood-prone underpass is not good enough. I'm battling to Save Our Banksy because I believe it must be at the heart of any new waterfront development. It will draw so many people to visit the town and help make the development a success.

There is still much more to do as we build a brighter future for Dover. We have secured £500 million of investment since 2010. Things are changing. Dovorians will remember well the battle to bring down Burlington House. Yet we did it – and the formerly desolate St James site is transforming before our eyes. Meanwhile the rubble from Burlington House is being used to lay the foundations of the Western Docks Revival.

It's easy for cowardly keyboard warriors to hurl insults. Yet what do they ever achieve? Nothing. Meanwhile we are working relentlessly – taking action to secure investment and build a brighter future for Dover.

0 comments

Post a comment


29 JUN 2017

Our frontline has a bigger role than ever

Leaving the EU is a monumental change as well as an incredible opportunity for our nation. In order to achieve the best possible Brexit it is essential we are ready on day one.

Nowhere will our preparations be more vital than here at the Dover & Deal frontline. We face two great challenges. First making sure our customs checks are ready so tourists and trade continue to flow freely. That's why working with industry groups I have put together a detailed report for Government on how Britain can be prepared for every eventuality of leaving the EU. It is likely we will be leaving the single market and the custom union. If so we must make sure we are fully prepared so we can prove predictions of queues to the Channel Ports totally wrong.

Second we must ensure security at the border is stronger than ever. We must counter people trafficking, illegal immigration and terror threats. Last Summer we achieved so much when the Jungle was dismantled. It was a great success. It reduced pressure on the Dover border. Yet even so 50,000 illegal migrants tried to break into Britain last year. That's some 150 a day stopped by frontline border officers. 10 lorries were fined every day for having illegal migrants on board. Yet we also know from the stories of migrants landing on our shores in small craft that many more may be arriving undetected.

So we cannot afford to be complacent. With signs of attacks on tourists and truckers at Calais we must act now to ensure the problems of ast Summer are not repeated.

This underlines once again why we need more investment at our border. With so many migrants trying to break into Britain, our officers on the frontline are being put under intense pressure.

At Dover, they see thousands of trucks and cars pass every day. They use their experience to pick out suspect vehicles. They do an amazing job. Yet the smugglers and terrorists are getting ever more sophisticated.

So we need to boost our border force with the technology, data and people they need to protect our country and our trade.

I have set out the many ways of funding this investment. We can clamp down on tax dodging at the border. We can introduce a £10 visa waiver scheme like they do in the US. We can seize the traffickers' ill-gotten assets.

However we do it, it's clear we have no choice but to boost the borders budget. With Brexit fewer than two years away, we need to show we are serious about being fully prepared at our border. That's why I have been working with industry groups to plan ahead so we are ready on day one. We can make Brexit a massive success - but only if we're fully ready for it.

0 comments

Post a comment


28 JUN 2017

Asking the PM for more border investment

I called for more investment in border officers and technology during Prime Minister's Questions.

Addressing the House of Commons today, I highlighted the 50,000 attempts to break into Britain at Calais last year. It works out at 150 a day – or one every ten minutes.

So I asked Prime Minister Theresa May: "With 150 people a day caught trying to break into Britain, our hardworking border officers are under incredible pressure at the Dover frontline.

"Will the Prime Minister consider the case for more investment in state of the art technology and the recruitment of more border officers to defend our borders and help win the war against people traffickers?"

She responded with a commitment to invest £71 million this year in new technology at the border.

She said: "Our border force officers are doing an excellent job at our juxtaposed controls and in his constituency, particularly the work they are doing to stop illegal immigrants and human traffickers.

"And we have indeed been investing in the system capabilities. £108 million has been invested in the last two years in new technology and a further £71 million is earmarked for that in this current financial year.

"But of course there are particular pressures in Dover. That's why we have also invested more money to maintain security there, and to ensure the Calais camp remains closed.

"And we are making efforts upstream as well, to ensure we reduce the number of people trying to get to the UK illegally.

"The Department for International Development are now putting extra focus on the central Mediterranean route. An extra £75 million is going to humanitarian support there."

The PMQs exchange followed publication of Home Office figures for attempts to cross the Channel illegally.

Since 2010 British taxpayers have paid out £315.9 million on security in northern France. It's time we invested properly this side of the Channel too, and I welcome the Prime Minister's commitments today.

Here in Dover we know that illegal immigration has been a problem for years and remains shockingly high. We need to do more to protect tourists and truckers from attacks by ruthless people traffickers.

If migrants had no hope of breaking into Britain, they wouldn't go to Calais. That is what we need to aim for.

0 comments

Post a comment


22 JUN 2017

Save Our Banksy

We've been battling to renew Dover for years. And then a multimillion pound piece of artwork turns up in the middle of our town overnight. It would be daft to get rid of it. That's why I'm campaigning to Save Our Banksy.

On Friday, I met with residents at the giant Brexit-themed Banksy in York Street. Everyone was in agreement about what an amazing work of art it is – and that we must do all we can to save it.

The Dover Banksy is iconic. Our town is the gateway and guardian of the nation – and on the frontline of Brexit. Wherever you stand on Brexit, this artwork is a statement on our times. Brexit and the European question will loom large over everything for a long time.

The people of Dover want it to stay – and so do I. That is why I am asking for all your support to help save our Banksy. Because in Dover we have not done well enough in protecting our heritage and culture – in looking after the things Dovorians through the ages have loved dearly.

It's clear work needs to be done to improve Bench Street too. Everyone knows I have been calling for the site of The Crypt to be restored. It's been a wasteland ever since the terrible fire 40 years ago. The Crypt site is owned by the very same people who own the Banksy building. I urge them to work with us – to help us build a better Dover where we celebrate our culture and our history.

I hope the building's owners will listen to what the people of Dover want. Yet following the fiasco with the Folkestone Banksy, it's clear we cannot take anything on trust. That's why I have sent an application to Historic England explaining why it is essential this work of art is protected. The Abbey Road crossing immortalised by The Beatles has been listed. Even a 1960s Bournemouth bus depot described as "hideous" was listed. If they are going to list things like that, they should list an iconic piece of art like our Banksy.

It's also important for on Dover District Council to use all powers they have at their disposal to halt any demolition or removal of this Banksy. For it is clear the building's nature has fundamentally changed. The new waterfront development should be reworked to have this Banksy at its heart – as a central attraction. It will draw so many people to visit the town and help make the development a success. Renewal is about more than just new buildings. This is about protecting a piece of our culture and history for the people it was intended for, their children and grandchildren.

This artwork may be worth millions. Yet to the people of Dover it is priceless. Let's work together. Let's Save Our Banksy.

0 comments

Post a comment


20 JUN 2017

Plans to cut bus services are appalling

I have called on Stagecoach bosses to scrap appalling and inexcusable plans to cut dozens of local bus services.

Stagecoach last week launched a consultation over the changes which will affect Dover, Deal and villages across the area. Some would lose their only regular service.

The firm has given residents just two weeks to lodge their views, with the consultation period ending on June 26.

These changes are appalling and totally unjustified. There are reductions for almost every village, just when we are getting more investment and housing all over the district.

People are quite rightly fuming. The two-week window for consultation – and the vague wording in it – is unwarranted, inexcusable and unacceptable.

I have written to Stagecoach's area director making my views known in no uncertain terms and asked for a meeting as a matter of urgency.

To have your say on the proposals by Monday, 26 June 2017, e-mail southeast.enquiries@stagecoachbus.com quoting "Dover Area Proposals" in the subject line. Or you can write to Stagecoach at Stagecoach South East Dover Area Proposals, FREEPOST RTLL-RCTZ-AKAK, Canterbury, CT1 2SY.

For more details on the proposed changes, click here

3 comments

I cannot find out the changes stagecoach is proposing to carry out
- jean bryant

The link to the proposed changes is at the bottom, if you click on "here" in blue. Otherwise copy and paste this link into the address bar on your browser: https://tiscon-maps-stagecoachbus.s3.amazonaws.com/Timetables/South East/consultation document - proposed Dover area changes.pdf
- Charlie Elphicke

I am very unhappy, regarding the up coming changes, i live in West Whitfield, i use the 87 bus to Ramsgate through whitfield, i change at Sandwich to get to Ash, for regular special medical treatment. They are not running this service. I rely on all the busses to and from hospitals locally. The 60A that goes to Homebase etc, whitfield goes to Buckland hospital not running sept, we are getting a sports centre and supermarket, but no bus, amazing, we are expanding but having fewer busses. I am very unhappy with this indeed, i have no one to rely on with a car. Makes no sense at all. Very much appreciated that you are involved Mr Elphicke thank you .
- Miss Hickson-Brown

Post a comment


17 JUN 2017

Delighted with approval of vital cancer drug

I welcome the approval of a life-extending cancer drug after lobbying the NHS over the issue.

Kadcyla adds an average of six months of life to women with terminal breast cancer – but at an undiscounted cost of £90,000 per patient.

The drug was available in Scotland from April, but deemed too expensive by the rest of the UK.

Earlier this year I met with local support group the Breast Cancer Girls of Deal, both in the constituency and in Westminster. They told me how important Kadcyla was for their members.

I lobbied Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt and the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, which on Thursday (June 15) announced a U-turn in favour of funding the drug.

I am delighted by the outcome and there is no doubt all the pressure we piled on made a great difference. So many people were involved in this campaign.

I heard first hand from these courageous women how it was literally handing them a lifeline.

Time is the most important thing we have. If treatments work and give us more of it, money should not be an obstacle.

Chantele Rashbrook, who runs the Breast Cancer Girls of Deal group, has secondary breast cancer and is being treated with Kadcyla.

She said: "I'm not going into my third year on it and it's reduced the tumour on my lung to pretty much nothing.

"A lot of women in our group could end up with secondary breast cancer. They would never have been given this chance without this decision.

"I'm so happy. It's just brilliant.

"Charlie was on the ball and got other MPs to raise the issue too, and we got to talk to senior people in pharmaceuticals personally.

"It's made a big difference."

1 comment

I read about this in the Guardian. With all due respect I got the impression that the drug was made available through Roche, the manufacturer, agreeing to reduce their prices, rather than any lobbying undertaken by yourself. It stated quite clearly that the agreement was reached between Roche and NHS England. Whilst I would not wish to detract from any influence you may believe you made, you need to acknowledge the help given by Roche. cc. Roche
- jonathan stiles

Post a comment


15 JUN 2017

Thank you for the support - now let's work together to make our community even greater

I am incredibly proud to have been re-elected as Member of Parliament for Dover and Deal. It was humbling that over half the voters supported me in the ballot box. The Conservative vote share here rose to 52.4% while the majority increased to 6,437.

Thank you for your support. When I was first elected seven years ago, I said my ambition was to make Dover and Deal once again a jewel in the crown of the nation. I meant what I said back then. And it's been an incredible journey. Together we have achieved so many things they said were impossible. We saved the Port of Dover from being sold off to the French or whoever. We built a New Dover Hospital after Buckland Hospital had been decimated for a decade. We tore down Burlington House – new cinemas and shops are now rising at the St James site.

Meanwhile Deal goes from strength to strength. We safeguarded Deal's Hospital which had been left teetering on the edge. They said Deal was a "village" unworthy of the fast train – today that fast train sweeps into Deal all day, every day.

Some £500 million of investment has been secured for our community since 2010. We have been working tirelessly to reverse the neglect of the previous decade. Yet I know how much more there is to do. I set out a clear plan for our future in this election.

We must ensure our borders are as secure as they can be and be ready on day one for Brexit here at the Dover frontline. We've delivered a lot of investment since 2010. I want to see even more – starting at our port. We've achieved a lot on jobs. Yet I am passionate to do all I can to boost business and employment. And we must keep working to get a fairer share of healthcare. We fought to safeguard our hospitals, now we must fight to stop health chiefs sneaking key services back to the faraway big hospitals. We need to get beds at Buckland and improve mental healthcare – and help the most vulnerable.

I'm determined to drive forward the changes we need. Everyone knows Brexit will present challenges – but there will also be real opportunities to build the sort of Britain we want. Where we support small businesses, help people buy their own homes and where hard work brings rewards.

A Britain where we build a renaissance of our towns and regions, with places like Dover and Deal leading the way.

Last Thursday was another momentous night in British politics. It's clear we must be united and work together to deliver certainty for the country. To respect the will of the people and deliver Brexit. Yet we must also plan ahead to build a Brexit Britain that takes our nation forward to an even greater future.

0 comments

Post a comment


18 MAY 2017

A20 victory is great news

This week, works are finally starting on the A20. At long last the hated 40mph speed limit is officially going. This is another important piece of progress for our area. Indeed, all over Dover and Deal cranes tower in the skyline and diggers roll by as workmen are busy getting things built.

Since 2010, we've come a long way together. We've built a new state-of-the-art hospital, fixed our rail line in record time – and soon new shops and restaurants will spring up at the St James site. Sorting out the A20 speed limit is another step forward. It was only ever meant to apply when there were problems with traffic. It was not meant to be on all the time. Finally getting highways chiefs to deliver what they were meant to do in the first place is positive for our community.

Thousands of new homes have been built across the constituency. Yet still, young people are finding it too hard to get on the housing ladder.

It shouldn't just be an aspiration, it should be the norm. Homes are somewhere to settle in the community and raise a family. Yet for too long people haven't had the supply to meet demand. That's why I'm backing projects like the Connaught Barracks development and the Aylesham Garden Village. Many of these homes will be starter homes for first-time buyers.

We've made a good start on getting new homes built. The number of new builds started in Dover and Deal in 2015 was 394, almost double the UK average of 222. Another 167 new builds were started in the first two quarters of 2016.

We've also had a jobs revolution in Dover and Deal since 2010. Unemployment is down 46 per cent, while youth unemployment has fallen 60 per cent. These new workers need good homes to live in and decent places to shop.

We've come a long way together. We've had hundreds of millions of pounds invested in our area. Yet for me this this is just the start. Delivering even more investment in Dover and Deal we can have a renaissance of our corner of Kent. We can make Dover & Deal a jewel in the crown of the nation once again. What a few short years ago seemed so far away is now increasingly within our grasp. That's why I am working hard to see through the exciting plans for our community - and why I am doing all I can to make sure we don't risk losing everything we've worked so hard for.

0 comments

Post a comment


12 MAY 2017

Border treaty benefits France as much as Britain

France has a new president. And I believe there is good reason for optimism in Dover and Deal about the new French leader.

Because Emmanuelle Macron may be a more positive force for Britain than people expect. With him there is the potential to forge a deeper relationship with France and reach an accommodation with Europe that will benefit both us and the EU. To strike a New Entente Cordiale – a stronger deal between Dover and Calais.

Five years ago I sat opposite Emmanuelle Macron, the then economics adviser to President Hollande of France. I was leading a cross-party Parliamentary delegation to discuss the EU and what kind of settlement Britain might negotiate.

We all thought he was incredibly young to be doing this critical job. Which is what they said when he later created his own party and ran for the presidency. Just as in his campaign, Emmanuelle Macron impressed us all from the start. He clearly wanted to see France pass the structural reforms that we battled so hard for in the 1980s and now take for granted. He was pro-European, yet struck us as incredibly pragmatic as well. He was also a hard-headed negotiator from his days as a deal-maker in the City of London. If anyone can turn France around, he can. He may well to see it is pragmatically in France's interest for our two nations to enjoy closer ties as we leave the EU.

Yet we need to plan now to make sure trade continues to flow freely – whether there is a deal or no deal with the EU. Dover is the gateway and the guardian of the nation. The port handles £120 billion of imports and exports every year. More than 10,000 freight vehicles pass through the docks each day.

Gridlock at Dover and Deal will gridlock the UK economy too. We've seen in recent years how finely balanced the infrastructure is and how problems can swiftly spiral. Tailbacks in 2015 caused by Calais strikes were estimated to cost Britain's economy £1 billion. In 2016, a lack of French border police at Dover caused huge tailbacks on the roads to the port.

That's why I've worked with the ports, shipping and haulage industries to develop a detailed plan to ensure order at our border and that we are ready on day one when we leave. I've been working closely with the French too – and the plan is also backed by Xavier Betrand, president of the Calais and Dunkirk region.

In less than two years we will be leaving the European Union. It is vital that we are ready on day one for every eventuality – particularly at the Dover and Deal frontline. The truth is we can make a massive success of Brexit. By taking action now with a queue-busting plan we can ensure that we are ready.

0 comments

Post a comment


04 MAY 2017

Together we can keep building a better future for Dover & Deal

It's been an incredible two years. So much has happened. Not least getting more investment here in Dover & Deal. Hundreds of millions of pounds are being invested. It's also great news that unemployment has halved and wages have gone up 15% in the last two years.

After a fierce battle, we succeeded in tearing down Burlington House. Steelwork is now rising at the £50 million St James development. A cinema complex and a new shopping centre are taking shape in the heart of Dover – boosting the town rather than taking shoppers away.

Meanwhile Deal goes from strength to strength. The fast train we fought for and delivered now sweeps into Deal all day, every day. It's changed the town.  So much so that the Times newspaper now ranks Deal as number one in their list of the 20 best seaside towns in Britain. Yet I think we can do even better. That's why I want to see a new dual carriageway spur into Deal from the A256. It would transform the town even more – and save more lives being lost on the dangerous death-trap A258.

£50m was invested in our railways when the sea wall was repaired. Many feared they'd abandon the railway altogether yet we made sure it was repaired – way ahead of schedule. We stopped the port being sold off to the French or whoever and now it's getting the investment it needs. £120 million is being invested in the Western Docks Revival.

We've also had to fight to keep our borders secure. The Calais Jungle was dismantled last year after our hard-fought campaign. We  worked closely with French officials to make sure the Calais camp went for good. By the time the battle was won last autumn, nearly 10,000 people had been lured to Calais, living in squalor. People traffickers roamed free, exploiting migrants and attacking tourists and truckers nearly every night.

Here at the Dover and Deal frontline, we know we cannot risk a return of the Calais Jungle. That's why we're keeping up the pressure on the French to take action – before the first tent is pitched. With the French raising concerns about the border treaty, it's vital we have strong leadership to keep our borders secure.

Looking forward, we're leaving the EU. I'm working hard to make sure we are Ready on Day One on Brexit. We have less than two years to be ready. The most important preparations of all will be here at the Dover and Deal frontline.  So I've presented a detailed plan to the Government – to ensure the Channel Ports avoid gridlock and meet the Brexit borders challenge. Many hope for failure – but I'm determined to work hard to make a success of Brexit. To build a new Britain that is a great trading nation. It's what people voted for in the referendum and what I am committed to doing my best to deliver.

Dover and Deal have taken a giant leap forward. Yet there is still more to do. Together we can continue to build a better future for our area.

1 comment

Keep up the good work Charlie. I can't wait to see the outcome of all the work that is happening in Dover at the moment. For too many years Dover has been passed by but now it is getting what it deserves as this is the first thing that tourists see when they vist. Well Done
- Bazzer

Post a comment


28 APR 2017

Telling the Transport Secretary A20 40mph limit must go

I met with the Transport Secretary this week – and set out why the A20 40mph limit must be axed as soon as possible.

I have been keeping up the pressure on Highways England after they caved into my campaign last autumn and agreed to make the speed limit variable.

Yet local drivers feel Highways England is taking far too long to get the work done. I raised his concerns over the delays with Transport Secretary Chris Grayling.

I completely share local drivers' frustration with Highways England's failure to get on with the job.

First of all they said they would have this absurd speed limit gone by March. Then they said it won't be gone until June.

Yet again they show they are not fit for purpose and have failed to get on with the job. It's wrong they continue to subject local people to yet more delays.

I passed on our concerns to the Transport Secretary – and called for swift action to be taken.

In recent crunch talks, Highways England told me everything was in place to begin construction work in May and finish by the end of July.

A Notice of Determination, a statement that the new A20 scheme will not have a significant impact on the environment, has been published in the London Gazette.

If it goes unchallenged, highways bosses say a six-week programme to install new digital signs will begin immediately.

Details about road closures are expected to be published towards the end of the Notice of Determination process.

I also spoke to Chris Grayling about the need for the A2 to be upgraded and dualled all the way to the Dover and the planned M20 Lorry Park to be delivered on time.

2 comments

Thank you for all your efforts in this matter. It has had such an adverse effect on so many lives, whilst foreign vehicles wiz past. Let us hope that the changes will be in plea e sooner rather than later.
- Sheilah Ramsey

I had the 'red mist' descend on me this morning over this absurdity. Having exited the A20 and descended into Dover down the B2011 I suddenly realised that, in common with all the other traffic, we had increased our speed to the point where the whole chain of traffic was hurtling down the hill into Dover. As someone who deals in human behaviour for a living it showed me that no one is immune to the consequential influences that the enforced behaviour on the A20 is having on the surrounding roads. There is an assumption that all drivers are idiots. We are not. We drive sensibly and usually to the safe speed for the road. Study after study has shown this. By enforcing a crass system the bureaucrats have inadvertently made speeders of many more of us. An assessment such as this would have gathered all the data necessary in one year. The complete annual traffic flow is then known. The probabilities can all be assessed from that data set. They are learning nothing more about traffic behaviour by extending the study: they just get more numbers to crunch. They are, however, spending public money and they continue to inconvenience the locals from the safe distance of their ivory tower. Thank you Charlie, for campaigning on this issue so hard. I hope that as well as hearing your case, Mr Grayling was actually listening.
- Mark Ridley

Post a comment


27 APR 2017

My five-point plan for Brexit will ensure order at our border

In less than two years we will be leaving the European Union. It is vital that we are ready on day one for every eventuality – particularly at the Dover and Deal frontline.

People opposed to Brexit talk up fears of chaos when we leave the EU. They speak of disaster at the border with queues of lorries all the way back to Essex. Let's prove the Remoaners wrong by being ready on day one to make a real success of Brexit. By taking action now to invest in upgrading the border and the roads to the Dover and Deal frontline we can be ready.

Dover is the gateway and the guardian of the nation. The port handles £120 billion of imports and exports every year. More than 10,000 freight vehicles pass through the docks each day.

Disruption at Dover is felt right across the country. Gridlock at Dover will gridlock the UK economy too. We've seen in recent years how finely balanced the infrastructure is and how problems can swiftly spiral. Tailbacks in 2015 caused by Calais strikes were estimated to cost Britain's economy £1 billion. In 2016, a lack of French border police at Dover caused huge tailbacks on the roads to the port.

That's why I've worked with the ports, shipping and haulage industries to develop a detailed five-point plan to ensure order at our border.

Resilient roads to Dover and Deal. The dualling of the A2 all the way to Dover, recklessly axed by the last Labour government, must now be carried out. The planned M20 lorry park must be delivered on time.Britain open for business with systems ready on day one to ensure that customs controls are handled seamlessly and long queues avoided.A New Entente Cordiale to extend the Le Touquet Treaty to cover customs co-operation and ensure we work closer than ever with France.A Brexit Infrastructure Bill. It takes years to build the simplest road. Yet we have less than two years to get ready. A powerful new law to speed through administrative processes would enable vital projects to be delivered on time.One Government at the border to ensure order. There is a mind boggling array of ministries, quangos and agencies with border responsibilities. There should be a single ministry where the buck stops – not a pea soup of bureaucracy.

I'm incredibly grateful to the businesses and industry leaders who joined me to develop this detailed plan for meeting the Brexit borders challenge. By taking action now we can make a real success of Brexit for Britain.

Let's move forward and get on with this vital work now. So we won't just be ready on day one – Dover and Deal will be more successful and stronger than ever before.

0 comments

Post a comment


22 APR 2017

Launching my election campaign in Dover & Deal

I launched my election campaign on Saturday.

I held street stalls and heard about the local issues which matter most to residents.

We also chatted about my plan for stronger borders, more investment and better healthcare in Dover and Deal.

It was great to meet people. A lot of them told me what a great job they think Theresa May is doing – and that she is the strong leader we need to make a success of Brexit.

I was really pleased to hear people support my plan for stronger borders, more investment and better healthcare in Dover and Deal.

This is one of the most important elections in modern times. Be in no doubt – every single vote counts.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn's coalition of chaos would crash our economy. We cannot risk losing everything we've worked so hard for.

If you are interested in getting involved in the election email charlie@elphicke.com or call 01304 379669.

0 comments

Post a comment


20 APR 2017

Why strong borders matter

The Dunkirk migrant camp was destroyed in a fire last week. The flames tore through the closely-packed huts, burning them to the ground as hundreds of vulnerable people fled for their lives. The devastation brought back memories of the huge fires we saw at the Jungle camp in Calais. And it reminded us all of why we fought so hard to get the Jungle dismantled last year.

Because the Dunkirk fire yet again showed just how dangerous these camps are – for the people who live there and for tourists and truckers who travel through the area. We at the Dover and Deal frontline can all vividly remember what it was like in Calais. By last autumn nearly 10,000 people had been lured to Calais, living in conditions of appalling squalor – rickety shacks and tents. There was no running water and little sanitation. Just 22 miles across our English Channel, people traffickers roamed free, exploiting migrants – adults and children alike.

Dismantling the Jungle and moving the people there into safe reception centres far from Calais was a major step forward in weakening the pull factor people traffickers rely on. In putting an end to the Calais migrant magnet.

With the Jungle gone, the focus turned to the Grande-Synthe camp, near the port of Dunkirk. Yet the numbers there were only 1,500 – far fewer than at Calais.

The French rightly had a plan in place to dismantle the Dunkirk camp later this year. But last week's fire means hundreds of migrants are suddenly left looking for somewhere to stay.

Yet setting up a new camp would be completely the wrong thing to do. It would only make matters worse. French officials say the Dunkirk fire was started during a fight between Afghan and Kurdish people traffickers. It just goes to show that migrant camps are a magnet for these ruthless criminal gangs – a place for them to search out victims to lure into their evil trade of modern slavery.

That's why the French must be on high alert to stop any migrants from trying to set up new camps in Calais or Dunkirk – before the first tent is pitched. These vulnerable people should be helped to reception centres far from Calais – safe places with proper sanitation – and then helped back to their home nations. It's time to put an end to these squalid camps and the people traffickers who roam free within them.

And it's time we had the investment we need at the Dover and Deal frontline. The stronger our border security – the weaker the pull for migrants to make their way to Northern France.

We must continue to work closely with the French. To keep tourists and truckers safe from harm. And to wage war on the people traffickers – and end their evil trade of modern slavery.

0 comments

Post a comment


11 APR 2017

Hearing how Dover firms will cope post-Brexit

I heard how one of Dover's biggest employers plans to make a success of trading post-Brexit.

The Megger Group manufactures test equipment for electrical power applications, employing around 240 people from its base in Archcliffe Road.

I was shown around the plant after a meeting with managing director Graham Heritage. He told me the firm is already having to look to Europe and beyond as they are struggling to recruit enough skilled workers from the UK.

Megger is a massively valued local employer. Their skilled jobs make towns like Dover tick. The firm continues to compete brilliantly. But they need to recruit highly-skilled workers to keep up.

Dover's new homes and shops should help pull in some of those people, but we have to do more to train our own. Local people must get opportunities if we are going to build a better future for our area.

Mr Heritage says Megger positions itself above the low cost market, developing "products for specific markets to a high standard but retain value for money. The firm's worldwide distribution network means revenue continues to grow year on year. Megger is already showing what we can achieve by looking beyond Europe.

There are choppy waters ahead, but we have the enthusiasm and expertise in Britain to navigate them. I will keep pushing Government for a quick trade agreement, reciprocal standards, a fairer tax system, and much more investment in training.

I have been so impressed by how British businesses have accepted the challenge. They are determined to make Brexit work, and crucial to it happening.

0 comments

Post a comment


06 APR 2017

We must be ready on Day One at the Dover & Deal frontline

Article 50 has been triggered and we're off. In two years we will leave the European Union. And on Day One of Brexit the sun shone brightly on our White Cliffs – a sign of brighter days ahead.

The White Cliffs are a symbol of freedom across the world – of our island's resilience and independence. For centuries, Dover has been the gateway and guardian of the kingdom. The front line that repelled Julius Caesar and saw off Napoleon. The skies in which the Battle of Britain was fought. Dover has always stood firm.

Once again Dover and Deal are at the frontline. A great proportion of Britain's trade with Europe comes through the port. Dover handles £120 billion of imports and exports every year as well as huge numbers of people. Deal or no deal, we need to be ready on day one.

Europe is only part of the problem. In many ways our greatest problems are those we create for ourselves. It takes years to build even the simplest road. Because there are always so many vested interests seeking to stop any work being done. Ask any driver and they'll tell you our roads are simply not up to the job.

It's little surprise that Michel Barnier, Europe's chief Brexit negotiator, claims there will be queues on the roads to Dover and Deal if there is 'no deal'. The entire system is so finely balanced there are already tailbacks every summer. Port chief Tim Waggott has also warned of repeats if we are not prepared at the Dover and Deal frontline. This simple truth is that gridlock at Dover means gridlock for the UK economy too

Over the past few months I've been working with the port as well as business and industry experts on both sides of the Channel. We've been looking at how to keep trade moving through Dover and Calais.

Key roads need to be upgraded right now. The M20 lorry park which we need to prevent the entire road system breaking down in the event of port problems is under threat. Vested interests – greenies and grumblers who don't care what's best for Dover and Deal – are seeking to stop it. Meanwhile the essential Lower Thames Crossing linking Kent and Essex is entering its third decade of planning. And the dualling of the A2 – axed by the last Labour government – must be back on the table.

We are going through a major change – one which will be written about in the history books. Yet the next two years can't just be about Brussels. Vital work needs doing here too.

So we won't just be ready on day one – Dover and Deal will be more successful and stronger than ever before.

0 comments

Post a comment


30 MAR 2017

Backing calls for Trump to help Kelly Turner

I have called on US President Donald Trump to donate to the Kelly Turner fund.

Kelly, aged 16 and from Dover, was diagnosed with a desmoplastic small round cell tumour (DSRCT) in October 2015 and given two years to live.

After the NHS refused to carry out surgery, the St Edmund's pupil's family found a willing facility in New York – but at a cost of more than £1 million.

Fundraising efforts have since raised enough for Kelly to have surgery after her GCSE exams in July. But $700,000 for vital treatment after remains outstanding.

After a request from Kelly's dad Martin, I wrote to President Trump asking for support.

It might be a longshot – but I will do everything I can to help Kelly and her family. She is an incredible person and her parents Martin and Linda have fought so hard for her.

Our community has come together in an amazing way to raise the money, but the situation is still desperate and there will be considerable costs after surgery.

Please everyone, for the sake of this wonderful girl and her family, keep going with your efforts.

Martin Turner, Kelly's dad, said: "Working night shifts in Dover Docks, brainstorming with my colleagues, we came up with this fairly mad idea.

"I don't think I'm being unkind to say that President Trump doesn't have particularly good press in the UK.

"And he is New Yorker who grew up only a few miles from where Kelly is having surgery. He is also wealthy with considerable influence.

"Even if it doesn't work, I want to thank everyone in the community who has helped so far.

"The response has been incredible, but we still need your support. In fact, we need it more than ever."

0 comments

Post a comment


30 MAR 2017

We are at our strongest when we are facing the greatest adversity

Last Wednesday showed that we are at our strongest when we are facing the greatest adversity. I was expecting the day to be about wringing promises from the Government to make sure the M20 lorry park is ready on schedule. That and marking the 100th Birthday week of Dame Vera Lynn. At 12.20pm I duly rose from my place in a packed House of Commons and got the Prime Ministerial pledge I was seeking for our community.

Just a few hours later it all seemed so insignificant and so long ago. At 2.40pm, as Khalid Masood mowed down innocent pedestrians on Westminster Bridge, I was just leaving the Commons Chamber. I went upstairs to the committee room where we on the Public Accounts Committee were about to interview a senior civil servant. Suddenly the sitting was suspended and it became clear that there had been a terrible incident at the gates of Parliament. I looked out of the window at Westminster Bridge and noticed ambulances spread across the bridge. The incident at the gates was not the only one.

In the fog of events it was hard to know what had happened. There was a fear that these might be co-ordinated, diversionary attacks. Armed police swept through Parliament checking every room just in case there were attackers in the building. Only later did we come to know it was the work of a lone wolf – the hardest of attacks to detect. Masood was not some foreign fighter come to our shores to kill. He was one of our own countrymen, born and bred here. He was a long standing violent criminal who had been radicalised.

The hearts of all of us go out to those who were murdered, their families and loved ones. Police officer Keith Palmer fell in the line of duty. He gave his life to save those of others. He protected our democracy. He acted with the greatest heroism and the most conspicuous courage in circumstances of extreme danger. I shall be writing to the Honours Committee making the case he should be awarded the George Cross – and I hope I will do so with your support.

What happened last week was shocking to us all. As a nation we are united in grief for these terrible events. Yet it is also important to recognise that, thanks to the police and security services, this attack failed. It underlines that in our efforts to prevent radicalisation we are doing the right thing. We must work harder to prevent people getting radicalised – and we must make sure that our Parliament continues to be open for all in our democracy to visit and see. Because freedom is the cornerstone of our way of life and our democracy must be an open democracy. These are key values to us all and we must never compromise them.

0 comments

Post a comment


25 MAR 2017

Another successful Crocus Walk

It was great to join Kerry Rubins and the gang on another hugely successful Crocus Walk.

Kerry really is an incredible ambassador for Breast Cancer Now. She works so hard to lead the fight for people in Deal and across the country.

It was brilliant to see so many people taking part again this year. Thanks to The White Cliffs Hotel for providing and excellent mid-walk lunch!

0 comments

Post a comment


23 MAR 2017

The future looks bright in Dover and Deal

The hard work of so many years is beginning to pay off in Dover & Deal. Burlington House has been demolished and we're steaming ahead in building the homes we need. Last week, Deal was named a top seaside town by The Times newspaper. Last Friday I held my annual Jobs Fair – more businesses than ever turned up looking for people to fill their burgeoning vacancies. Tilmanstone Salads alone told me they wanted to hire 200 people. It's amazing how far things have come since 2010.

The fall of Burlington House was the firing of the starting gun on the regeneration we have so long needed. Seeing the steelwork go up at the St James development gives us all a glimpse of the future that is now arriving. A cinema complex, Nando's, Marks & Spencer and much, much more. It will be in the heart of Dover – boosting the town rather than taking shoppers away. My vision is that this development should be able to cross over Townwall Street and join up with a great waterfront development. That may take time but would make Dover a truly great destination.

Meanwhile The Times newspaper hailed Deal as one of the 20 best seaside towns in Britain – placing the town at Number One. This is a fantastic accolade for what we all know to be true. Deal has the nation's best high street, bags of charm, wonderful old houses and a superb seafront. The fast train we all campaigned for now sweeps into Deal all day every day – it is the icing on the cake that makes Deal a top place to live. I hope we will see even more visitors coming to boost our local economy and fill the brilliant restaurants and shops.

Destination Dover & Deal has taken a giant leap forward in recent years. Yet there is still more to do. Renewal is not simply about town centres. It's also about building the homes we need. Bringing opportunity and starter homes to our young people really matters. This is why I have been strongly supporting the new building developments at Aylesham and pressing for them to build more homes there faster. It's also vital we see quality homes for families and first time buyers built at Connaught Barracks.

We also need more jobs. My Jobs Fair certainly showed how many businesses are recruiting locally. This is good news. Unemployment has plummeted since 2010, yet I want to see it fall even further – full employment is my aim so that everyone can get the best crack at life.

These are exciting times for our community. So much is happening. Yet we need to see more. There is increasing momentum in Dover & Deal. The future is looking brighter – but we need to keep going and see it through.

0 comments

Post a comment


22 MAR 2017

Fighting for better Dover roads at Prime Minister's Questions


I made the case to Theresa May for transport upgrades in Dover and Kent during Prime Minister's Questions.

I highlighted the need for the M20 lorry park to be built, the A2 dualled and for the Lower Thames Crossing to move forward – so the county is ready for Brexit on day one.

Dover is the gateway and guardian of the kingdom. We need to make sure the port is ready for Brexit on day one.

The Prime Minister May said the Government is "fully committed" to delivering the M20 lorry park. She added that the Department for Transport is considering closely the findings of the Lower Thames Crossing consultation. And Highways England are doing detailed work on the A2.

I also asked the House to pay tribute to Dame Vera Lynn, who turned 100 on Monday.

The Prime Minister was happy to join me in wishing Dame Vera Lynn a very happy 100th birthday week, adding that we should recognise the service she gave to this country, as many others did.

1 comment

The White Cliffs are iconic symbols of our country, but receive insufficient care and protection from, for example, refuse dumpers. I would like to see a special committee established to maintain a watching brief on this problem.
- John Groves

Post a comment


17 MAR 2017

Meeting a dedicated Deal support group

I recently met with a Deal group fighting to maintain access to secondary breast cancer drugs.

Chantele Rashbrook, who runs the Breast Cancer Girls of Deal group, has secondary breast cancer and is being treated with Kadcyla. This treatment is at risk of being axed from the NHS.

This support group does such good work and I really enjoyed meeting them. They made a powerful case about the huge difference Kadcyla and other drugs can make.

I am writing to NICE, urging them to approve Kadcyla's continued use in treatment.

I am also writing to the Health Secretary asking for it to be an approved treatment of the Cancer Drugs Fund.

The Deal community has raised a huge amount of money for research into battling breast cancer over the years.

Health bosses need to listen to the concerns being raised.

0 comments

Post a comment


17 MAR 2017

More firms than ever at my latest Jobs Fair

I welcomed more than 600 people to my fifth Jobs Fair on Friday. More businesses than ever set up stalls at the event in Dover Town Hall. 

Jobseekers met with firms including P&O Ferries, DFDS, the Port of Dover, Coombe Valley Transport Ltd, Gomez and Kennedy Scott. Hundreds of jobs were on offer – with Tilmanstone Salads alone seeking 200 new employees.

My Jobs Fair shows how many businesses are recruiting locally. This is great news. Unemployment has plummeted since 2010, yet I want to see it fall even further. I want to see full employment so that everyone can get the best crack at life.

Youth unemployment in Dover and Deal has halved since 2010. More than 4,000 apprenticeships have been created. East Kent College and Hadlow College gave out advice and information on more local opportunities at the jobs fair.

I've been working hard to make sure we help young people in Dover and Deal get a foot on the ladder. It's great to see so many apprenticeships being created and I want to see this continue. 

0 comments

Post a comment


16 MAR 2017

We must be ready for Brexit at the Dover and Deal frontline

In two years we will leave the European Union. It is vital that we are ready on day one for whatever happens. I made the case in the House of Commons last week that the most important preparations of all will be at the Dover and Deal frontline.

Last summer we had a taster of what will come if we are not ready. We saw queues of traffic all the way along the A20, A2 and M20. Some say this was nothing compared with what will happen if we are not ready. That is why I am pressing for more and faster investment in our roads. For lorry parks off the M20. For dualling the A2. And for the Lower Thames Crossing.

There are some people who seem to revel in doomsday scenarios for Brexit. I take a different view. We need to be ready and prepared so that the worst does not happen. That means we must invest in the Port of Dover. Over the past few years we have handed over millions to strengthen Calais. It's time we put Britain, and Britain's border, first. We must invest in the Dover and Deal frontline.

Of course, the best case scenario is that in two years' time we get a good deal from the EU. I hope that we do – and I believe that Theresa May is the only leader who can deliver it. Yet as we are leaving the single market, leaving the customs union and ending payments to Brussels – we have to be ready if the EU won't do a deal. We must make sure we can maintain a seamless flow of trade. That is why I am working with industry experts on both sides of the Channel at how to keep traffic moving through Dover and Calais.

This is vital not just to Dover and Deal, not just to Kent, but for the whole nation. It will not be much good for Scotland if we have queues at Dover, because they will not be able to get their whisky out by road. It will not be good for the Northern Powerhouse if it runs out of power. The Midlands Engine will conk out if it cannot get the components it needs on time.

That is why it is of national importance that trade continues to flow freely through the Port of Dover and Eurotunnel. It matters to the whole of the United Kingdom – and indeed to Europe. Brexit must work for the good of us all.

If on day one no free trade deal has been agreed, Britain must be prepared. I believe that we can, should and must be – for the good of Dover, Deal, Kent and of the entire nation.

0 comments

Post a comment


15 MAR 2017

Visiting the Job Centre ahead of my fifth Jobs Fair

I saw how technology is helping people back to work during a visit to Dover's Jobcentre Plus.

Staff explained how they are teaching people to use the internet, social media and other digital skills in their efforts to find work.

I visited the Maison Dieu Road hub ahead of the fifth Dover and Deal Jobs Fair later this week. Dozens of firms will have stalls at Dover Town Hall on Friday, March 17, from 10am to 3pm.

More jobs and money in our part of Kent is a priority for us all. My Jobs Fair is about putting this into action by bringing local jobseekers and employers together.

I'm passionate about getting people into work. Dover is full of talented, aspirational people. Many want to get a foot on the jobs ladder, find a new challenge or discover ways to help others and make the most of their skills. But taking that initial step isn't always easy.

The Jobs Fair gives employers and job seekers the opportunity to showcase themselves to one another in person, without all the paperwork and online form-filling.

Firms including P&O, DFDS, the Port of Dover, Discovery Park, Coombe Valley Transport Ltd, Gomez, East Kent College, Hadlow College and Kennedy Scott will have stalls. People will be able to get information on training, apprenticeships and full-time work in a wide range of industries.

0 comments

Post a comment


10 MAR 2017

Praising another 'outstanding' local school

I visited a local school recently ranked "outstanding" by Ofsted.

Touring the Kingsdown and Ringwould Church of England Primary School site, I spoke to headteacher Jo Hygate about their recent success of in achieving an "outstanding" grade.

I was deeply impressed by the children's enthusiasm and the outstanding teaching at the school. Staff told me how the Deal Learning Alliance has allowed local schools to share ideas and work together to improve. It's so encouraging to see schools in our area going from strength to strength.

I am also supporting Kingsdown and Ringwould Primary with their efforts to become part of a multi-academy trust.

0 comments

Post a comment


09 MAR 2017

We must never forget the Herald victims - or its lessons

This week marks the 30th anniversary of the Herald of Free Enterprise disaster. On 6 March 1987, the Herald of Free Enterprise sailed out of the Belgian port of Zeebrugge for what was fatefully to be the last time. The bow doors of the ferry were not closed. Water came pouring in. The ship capsized. 193 people tragically lost their lives.

This is the 30th year we have gathered together in Dover to remember the worst peacetime maritime disaster of recent times. We gather together partly so that those who live on and have lost their loved ones know that we stand with them. They will never walk alone – our community will always walk with them.

We gather because as Bishop James Jones movingly said in his address at St Mary's Church on Monday, we do not seek closure. We seek remembrance of those our community knew and we seek acceptance – to be able to live with the terrible events. We cannot change what happened but it is still so hard to accept.

We gather together because we know we must also remember. The lessons of this tragedy must never be forgotten. Since that fateful day, alarm systems warn if anything is amiss, crew regulations have been tightened, any water coming in is swiftly monitored, a more careful lookout is required and much more. Our ferries must not just be seen to be the safest in the world. They must be the safest in the world. There must not be any backsliding from the regulations that came in to see that this is so.

So many in our community were affected by this dreadful event. I was so moved to hear the heartrending stories of the survivors. How a little girl managed to get picked up in a boat when the people she was close to in the sea did not. How some, by chance of place, managed to make it to safety while others did not. And how still others should have been aboard but were not by a late change of plan.

It is the seemingly random hand of chance that caused some to live and others to be lost that so many find so hard to deal with. How can you ever hope to fathom meaning in that which has none? For so many that is what makes this terrible event all the harder to cope with.

For me, this is why Bishop James was right in saying we should not seek closure, but acceptance. We cannot change what happened. Yet with acceptance we can respect the loved ones who were lost and perhaps lessen the pain.

We will never forget the victims. We will never forget what happened. We will always be there to care for the families and loved ones who live on. This is why I am so proud of the timeless values of our community here in Dover and Deal.

0 comments

Post a comment


06 MAR 2017

Getting a taste of the Deal Hop Farm project

I visited the Landmark Community Garden to get a taste of the Deal Hop Farm project.

The garden is one of hundreds signed up to the scheme, organised by local group Deal With It.

Volunteers distribute hop plants to members and give advice on how to look after them.

Later in the year the plants will be harvested and returned to the Ripple Steam Brewery – where the final product is made.

This is a fantastic project. People get out in the fresh air, make use of their gardens, learn new skills, and work together as a community. At the end of it all, we get to enjoy lovely local beer in some of our amazing pubs.

Deal continues to go from strength to strength and I applaud this latest brilliant idea from the Deal With It team.

0 comments

Post a comment


03 MAR 2017

Finally a commitment to faster broadband for our villages

I welcome a commitment finally being made to improve shameful broadband in parts of Dover and Deal.

Some residents in villages like Lydden and Temple Ewell get internet speeds of less than two megabytes per second – ten times slower than parts of Dover town.

I joined Lydden ward district councillor Mark Rose to speak with furious business owners and villagers. We have repeatedly called on Kent County Council (KCC) and BT to improve broadband speeds.

These days the internet plays such an important role in people's lives. Yet the service in some of our rural areas is shameful.

In order for small businesses in the regions to thrive, we must have better broadband. These excruciatingly slow speeds make a mockery of modern Britain.

KCC says a street cabinet with new fibres will be installed in Canterbury Road, Lydden, on the southern edge of Chunnel Plant Hire's depot. According to the authority, work will begin soon and finish by September this year.

We must not see any more delays. I will be pressing KCC and BT to stick to their timeframe.

0 comments

Post a comment


02 MAR 2017

Working hard to move things forward in Dover & Deal

More jobs and money for our area has long been a key priority. We've made real progress – unemployment has halved since 2010, with apprenticeships and young people being particularly successful. It's been great to see so many new businesses starting up or expanding.

In Dover Burlington House has come down. It took so long many doubted it would ever happen. Now new steel frames are rising up, giving shape to the cinema, shops and hotel that are being built. The £50m plus St James development will make such a change to Dover and provide real momentum to the renewal of the town.

In Deal, we fought hard to get the fast train. We succeeded and it's been a success. The prosperity it has brought the town has made a real difference - and Deal's high street is now one of the best in the land. Small surprise it won High Street of the Year and I hope it will soon do so again.

Down at the Port of Dover, they're handling record levels of traffic. This underlines the importance of our campaign to get the A2 dualled and the M20 lorry park built. The Western Docks revival is now moving ahead. A new marina and new jobs on the seafront should make a real difference.

We've done a lot, yet there is much more to do. So it was quite a surprise recently to see the new business rates revaluation. Every local authority area in Kent is seeing a fall in business rates of about 5%. Even swanky Sevenoaks sees falling business rates. So it was a shock to see the Dover district's rates pegged for a rise of 11%. How could this be when we have so much deprivation in East Kent?

Pressing the Communities Secretary on the issue, it's become clear this rise is due to a revaluation of the Channel Tunnel whose business rates are allocated to the Dover district. The Tunnel will see its rates go up a lot. This means that the rest of the Dover District will see a fall of 8% - a real boost to businesses in our community. It's also welcome that the Government plans to support smaller businesses which are affected by the ending of business rates relief.

The next key steps for our community will be to bring forward the homes we need. There are not enough homes to go round and our young people really struggle to get on the housing ladder. That's why I am working hard to support the building of the new homes our community needs – so long as they have the infrastructure to go with it.

There is a real sense that things are moving forward in our community. No doubt there will be bumps in the road, yet real progress is being made. I will do everything I can to make sure Dover & Deal continue to move forward in the years to come.

0 comments

Post a comment


28 FEB 2017

The Citadel fortress could become quality housing

I visited the Western Heights and heard how the Citadel fortress could be transformed into quality housing.

The site was previously used as Dover Immigration Removal Centre until its closure at the end of 2015.

We need more housing in Dover and Deal if we are going build a better future for our community. In this project we have a real chance to preserve the historic character of one of Dover's great historic assets – and make use of it for the good of the town.

The development would follow a similar project at Connaught Barracks, where demolition work continues ahead of some 500 homes being built at the former army headquarters.

1 comment

good plan
- peter heys

Post a comment


26 FEB 2017

Backing the campaign against animal abusers

I am backing a campaign for tougher punishments for people who abuse animals.

Battersea Dogs & Cats Home has highlighted the "unacceptably low" penalties for cruelty and neglect offences, and I am joining calls for the maximum sentence to be raised to five years in prison.

People may be aware that I am a proud animal lover with an eight-year-old Norwich Terrier called Star.

It is unacceptable that people can abuse animals and get away with such a small penalty. It sickens me to hear of cases of abuse. We must have tougher sentences for the despicable people who harm these helpless creatures. 

Claire Horton, Battersea's chief executive, told me: "It isn't acceptable that our courts are unable to hand out tougher sentences in such extreme animal cruelty cases, yet the likes of fly-tipping can result in prison sentences of up to five years.

"Let's get this into proportion and let the punishment for abusing animals truly fit the crime."

2 comments

Thank you. I am an avid lover of animals and applaud you for this. The penalty does not fit the crime. Animals need stronger deterrents to aid their protection.
- Helen Williamson

Thank You Charlie. I am a supporter of Battersea and know how much they care, but the backing is not there when needed. Good luck with your call for harsher sentences, they should fit the crime. Doreen
- doreen collins. email gaggsville@gmail.com

Post a comment


24 FEB 2017

Meeting a Dovorian recognised for extreme bravery

I had the honour of meeting a Dovorian awarded France's highest military recognition for his bravery at Dunkirk and on D-Day.

David Norris, 97, was presented with the French Legion D'Honneur at Capel Le Ferne's Battle of Britain Memorial. 

Mr Norris was on board the King George V, helping rescue thousands of British soldiers from Dunkirk in 1940. He was awarded the Dunkirk Medal.

Mr Norris was also involved in the D-Day landings of 1944. He served as a Greaser in the engine room of supply vessel Jesse G Cotting, making four trips to Utah and Omaha beaches carrying vital supplies.

It was a huge privilege to see him awarded the French Legion D'Honneur. Not only did he help rescue our army from Dunkirk. He also carried vital supplies across the Channel on D-Day to troops on the Normany beaches – from where they battled through France and to the eventual victory that ended the war.

Mr Norris was one of seven heroes and heroines being recognised at the ceremony for their part in helping to win the Second World War. Their valour then means we are free today. They were the survivors.

We must never forget those who made the ultimate sacrifice and always remember the corners of foreign fields that will be forever England.

0 comments

Post a comment


24 FEB 2017

Helping a local lad with a school project

Last week I welcomed a sixth form student to Westminster to help him with his school project.

Dover Grammar School for Boys pupil Arun Jarman-Chantler made sketches inside Portcullis House. Arun, aged 17 and from Kingsdown, is designing a new look for the building - which houses more than 200 MPs' offices - for his Extended Project Qualification.

It was great to welcome him and his dad Nigel to Westminster. I was really impressed with Arun's sketches and cannot wait to see his final designs.

His enthusiasm and talent is testament to the great work being done at Dover Grammar School for Boys these days.

Arun told me the trip was invaluable in helping the project. He got a real sense of how the building looks and is an integral part of the Westminster community.

0 comments

Post a comment


23 FEB 2017

There is so much potential for a prosperous future

It's been great meeting people out and about in Dover and Deal over the past few weeks. These really are exciting times for our community with so much going on. We have the potential of developments that will renew our area – and volunteers who do so much to make things happen.

At the St James development, work continues on the building site where Burlington House once stood. Last year, after decades of dithering, the empty tower block was at last demolished. This was a huge victory – a symbol of how things are changing. It is hugely welcome to see progress being made. This project is vital in building a brighter future for Dover and Deal.

The former Dover Immigration Removal Centre at the Western Heights is another great opportunity. Seeing round this site recently, it is clear there is so much potential – it could be turned into a hotel or a quality housing development. The citadel fortress played an important part in keeping Dover and our nation safe and secure. Now it could be the engine to drive the renewal of the Western Heights.

Volunteers make a huge contribution to our community. Take Deal Centre for the Retired – a volunteer-run hub which has become a home from home for older residents in the town. Meeting residents there recently, I could see this is not only a place to relax and chat. It also offers vital services like bathing, hairdressing and meals served in-house or delivered to your door.

The centre is a testament to the spirit of people in this area. Residents are always ready to stand together, make sacrifices and work hard for those who need our support most. That is one of the great things about Dover and Deal.

Our hard-working volunteers really do make such a huge difference. In Parliament this week I hailed the invaluable work of Deal's Talk It Out group – who do so much to help people suffering from mental health problems. Government Minister Penny Mordaunt rightly commended their work.

In Parliament I make our case for the things that matter most to people in Dover and Deal. This week I held talks with industry experts about how we can make Brexit borders a success for Dover and Deal. Leaving the European Union poses challenges but plenty of opportunities too.

It's so important we embrace the clear decision of the British people and work hard to deliver a clean and effective Brexit. There is so much potential, particular in Dover and Deal, to build a prosperous future for our nation. Our famous White Cliffs are a symbol of the fortitude and courage that we must show once more in these exciting times.

Our area led the way at the front line in former times. Now we must lead the way again in making Brexit work for Britain – as well as leading the renewal of the local towns and historic regions of England.

0 comments

Post a comment


21 FEB 2017

Praising volunteer-run local group in Parliament

I praised the invaluable work of Deal-based mental health support group Talk It Out in Parliament this week.

I highlighted Talk It Out's role in supporting people to be ready for employment during Work and Pensions Questions in the House of Commons.

Asking the Minister for Disabled People, Penny Mordaunt MP, I pushed for assurances that such groups will be given more support to carry out their work.

Ms Mordaunt in turn praised the "huge expertise and wisdom" of Talk It Out.

I said: "Does she agree that local voluntary groups such as Talk It Out in my constituency do invaluable work helping people to be work-ready and we must do more to support them?"

Ms Mordaunt replied: "I do agree with my honourable friend that voluntary organisations have huge insight and expertise that we can tap into and I commend the work of Talk it Out in his constituency.

"This is one reason why we are recruiting 200 community partners across the Job Centre Plus network so we can ensure we are reaching all these organisations and benefiting from the huge expertise and wisdom they have."

Talk It Out was founded by Tracy Carr in 2011. It offers confidential sessions online and in person for mental health sufferers when they are feeling particularly low.

The group will soon open a wellbeing café at the Landmark Centre in Deal on a three-month trial basis.

They work tirelessly to make a difference to local people suffering with mental health problems. They deserved to be recognised for it, so they know how grateful people are and so others can follow their lead.

But they do need more help. I want to see better mental health care in Dover and Deal.

Support saves lives and I will keep fighting to make sure things improve.

0 comments

Post a comment


20 FEB 2017

Work progressing apace at St James

I have seen how work is progressing apace at the St James development.

Last week I was given a tour of the building site – where Burlington House once stood – by workers from Dover District Council and developer Bond City.

Plans for St James include a six-screen Cineworld cinema, hotel, restaurants and shops with M&S, Next, Travelodge, Nandos, Bella Italia and Frankie & Benny's among confirmed tenants.

Real progress is being made with construction firm Gallagher clearing land, laying foundations and putting up steel frames.

I'm told the main contractor is expected to be announced in the coming weeks. The chosen firm will be tasked with finishing most of the work by the end of the year.

After years of waiting, last year Burlington House was at last demolished. This was a huge victory – a symbol of how things are changing.

It was incredible to see how much progress has been made. The starting gun has well and truly been fired on the renewal of Dover.

0 comments

Post a comment


16 FEB 2017

We need to guard against a return of the Calais Jungle

At the Dover and Deal frontline, we have seen the true horrors of the Calais migrant magnet. This is why we fought to get the Jungle camp dismantled.

By the time the battle was won last autumn, nearly 10,000 people had been lured to Calais, living in conditions of appalling squalor – rickety shacks and tents. There was no running water and little sanitation. Just 22 miles across our English Channel, people traffickers roamed free, exploiting migrants – adults and children alike.

Dismantling the Jungle and moving the people there into safe reception centres far from Calais was a major step forward in weakening the pull factor people traffickers rely on.

This week the Government sought to tackle trafficking further – by limiting the number of child refugees Britain takes in under a scheme known as the Dubs amendment. People in Dover in Deal know the risk is that the good intentions of this scheme could cause the evil of the Jungle to return.

It sounds compassionate to bring in child refugees from Calais to Britain. Yet what would happen is that Calais would once again become a migrant magnet. The people traffickers would encourage families to make the dangerous journey to Calais. There they would once again be subject to horrendous conditions and terrible exploitation.

That's why the Government is right to be seeking to resettle people from war-torn countries like Syria. We have a strong record of making a difference. We took in hundreds of children from the Calais Jungle last year. We reunited them with their families already living in the UK – giving them a warm bed to sleep in and a roof over their head at Christmas.

At the Dover and Deal frontline we have been working hard to care for refugee children. In Kent we look after nearly 800 – almost a quarter of all child refugees in Britain. That's five times more than the whole of Scotland – and 12 times more than Wales. This has put real pressure on public services. It's incredibly disappointing that other councils and other nations fail to do their bit.

In Kent we are in a very real way at the frontline of this migrant crisis. It is we who see families shivering in the back of refrigerated lorries at Dover docks. It is we who see desperate migrants landing on Deal beaches in dinghies and claiming asylum. And it is we who see our resources stretched to the brink as we care for ever more vulnerable youngsters dumped on our doorstep by ruthless people traffickers.

This is why taking in more refugee children from Calais and the Dubs amendment system is the wrong answer. The right answer is to discourage people from coming to Calais at all. And to take the battle to the people traffickers and end their evil trade of modern slavery.

0 comments

Post a comment


13 FEB 2017

Calling for clean-up of site destroyed by fatal fire

I am calling for a Dover town centre site to be cleaned up 40 years after it was destroyed in a fatal fire.

The Bench Street building, formerly known as The Crypt, was erected in 1840. There were bars and restaurants on the lower floors and residential accommodation upstairs.

That was until tragedy struck on March 27, 1977, when seven people died after a devastating fire ripped through the four-storey building. Since then the shell has been left to decay in the heart of Dover town centre.

For decades the former Crypt site has been left to ruin. It's high time this area was cleaned up.

Work on the exciting St James scheme continues. Yet we must make sure Dovorians can be proud of every corner of the town centre. We need to build a better future for Dover and I have been urging the council to take action.

I wrote to Dover District Council, calling for work to begin soon. They said the owner will take down the scaffolding before a general tidying-up.

According to DDC, Historic England will then likely launch a consultation over The Crypt's future use.

0 comments

Post a comment


10 FEB 2017

Visiting a community asset run by volunteers

I found out about the hard work of volunteers during a visit to the Deal Centre for the Retired last week.

The Park Street building has become a community hub where older residents can relax, converse, play games and have meals. The volunteers also do a meal delivery service and organise other things like bathing and hairdressing.

I can see why for so many people the centre has become a sort of home from home. The volunteers are warm, friendly and incredibly hard-working. It was lovely to meet Andy and Mandy who run the kitchen, serving more than 40 meals a day in the dining room and sending out more than 50 meals a day via delivery.

I first visited the day centre to meet the retirees and chat to volunteers over a cup of coffee. I then saw the Norman Wisdom Dementia Suite, where music, films and activities are used to help those with memory issues.

The centre is a real asset to the community and I hope they continue their vital work.

0 comments

Post a comment


10 FEB 2017

Dover factory is already leading way in global trade

I was given a tour of a Dover factory already leading the way in global trade.

Gatic is a manufacturing firm supplying access and drainage products to infrastructure projects in 93 countries. I met staff and saw their products and machinery first hand at the Poulton Close site.

Gatic has forged a reputation by making products to an extremely high spec and as part of a sophisticated supply chain. It is more proof our area is ready to capitalise on the global opportunities that will arise post-Brexit.

But Gatic's competitiveness is under threat because of EU rules aimed at offsetting cheaper Chinese imports, another example of European red tape. They should not be punished for the failure of Europe to reform and modernise.

I am talking to HM Revenue and Customs to try to get them exempted.

Gatic's products are at the high end of the market but have to meet minimum performance characteristics set by the EU. The Commission says Chinese products were sold in Europe at heavily dumped prices, so they have imposed duties ranging from 43.5 to 81.1 per cent. It says this will prevent damage to European companies.

Peter Burnap, Gatic's managing director, told me it could have serious repercussions for their competitiveness in the market and employment implications for their workforce.

0 comments

Post a comment


09 FEB 2017

Fighting to fix our roads

People in Dover and Deal have felt let down by local roads for too long. It's time for Highways England to step up and deliver for our community.

This feeling was clear when I went to talk to residents of Shepherdswell and Lydden. They've been calling for the A2 to be dualled for decades. They see vehicles travelling too fast down a road not fit for purpose. Residents were even more concerned when faulty traffic lights caused more chaos on the carriageway in recent weeks.

Temporary lights were in place because of roadworks, but they went out of sync. There have been several cases of long tailbacks since – and a very nasty crash. I urged Highways England to send workers to fix the problems, but it was sadly too late for some.

In the long-term, everyone knows the two main roads which lead to Dover need serious attention. After plans to dual the A2 were axed in the late 1990s, I've been making the case to the Government to get the scheme back on the table.

Meanwhile, I was disappointed by Highways England's latest delay in making the 40mph limit on the A20 variable. They now claim they will have it sorted by June. It was meant to be this March, so we shall see.

Just look at how quickly the railway sea wall was completely rebuilt along Shakespeare Beach. It was a remarkable feat of British engineering. Trains were running from Deal and Dover to London again in just nine months.

Surely it's much harder to rebuild a sea wall than make a speed limit variable? I raised my serious concerns about Highways England with the Transport Secretary this week.

Highways England also need to look at litter which builds up on verges and creates the wrong impression of our wonderful area. We are steeped in history and surrounded by beautiful countryside. Yet the first thing visitors see is rubbish on the roadside. Dover District Council want to clear it up – but they need Highways England to give access to the road. Both sides need to work together to sort it out.

It's vital we fix our roads – not just for Dover and Deal but for the entire nation. Gridlock in Kent costs the country millions of pounds. The A20 and A2 are vital routes and I'm pressing our case for more investment.

We've come so far since 2010 in building a brighter future for Dover and Deal – with a new hospital, Burlington House down and high speed trains sweeping through our stations. It's time we had roads fit for a renaissance of our region.

The hard working people of Dover and Deal have run out of patience with the excuses. Highways England have let us down for too long. It's time they shared the urgency the rest of us feel – and made 2017 the year of action.

0 comments

Post a comment


03 FEB 2017

Joining drinkers at another fantastic festival

I opened the 24th White Cliffs Festival of Winter Ales on Friday - and once again what an event it was. 

Outside Dover Town Hall scores of beer enthusiasts queued in the street before the doors were flung open at 1pm.

This year's event – run over two days by the Campaign for Real Ale – featured 30 Kentish ales, 11 Kentish ciders and 31 beers from elsewhere in the country. Dover's own Breakwater Brewery sponsored the pint glasses, while money was raised for the Poppy Appeal. 

It was great to be back in Dover for a tasty pint of ale at another fantastic festival. The historic building, with its huge paintings and old weaponry on the walls, was the perfect setting for this hugely popular event.

Everyone was in great spirits and it was great to see Dover buzzing. We need to see more events like this. It was also a great chance to celebrate Dover's magnificent micropubs and breweries.

1 comment

Great comments on the beautiful Maison Dieu; just do NOT let it be turned into luxury flats! Excellent to know that the cider and ale production in our area continues to be feted! CHeers to all you drinkers!
- S.Purton-Smith

Post a comment


03 FEB 2017

Meeting residents fed up with faulty traffic lights

On Friday I met with residents of Shepherdswell and Lydden plagued by traffic problems on the A2 in recent weeks.

Temporary traffic lights were placed at the top of Lydden Hill during repairs, but motorists said sequencing problems caused chaos.

One woman told me how she suffered broken bones in a nasty crash which knocked her child unconscious. Others said they were left queuing for hours when all the lights went red.

Highways England sent workers to the site and finally fixed the lights after I contacted them last week.

It's no surprise the community feels let down. The road hasn't been fit for purpose for a long time and the latest problems only add to the frustration.

If we are going to realise a better future for Dover and Deal, we need to see growth without gridlock.

Just like with the A20 speed limit, highways chiefs have got to get on top of these things sooner – and make sure the road is safe.

The traffic lights needed replacing because a lorry struck the poles in early December. Repairs were not completed at the busy junction until January 31 – six weeks after the accident.

Residents also spoke of problems caused by speeding along the road, which turns into a single carriageway at Lydden.

The upgrading of the A2 is long overdue. I've been working tirelessly to make this happen. Plans were scrapped by Labour in the 1990s but I've been making the case to get the scheme back in the programme

I raised the issue in a meeting with the Chancellor this week and I will keep fighting to fix our roads. 

0 comments

Post a comment


27 JAN 2017

In Calais four months after the Jungle was cleared

On Friday I went to Calais. I wanted to see for myself whether the French had kept their pledge to stop the Jungle migrant camp from returning.

For years they had allowed the camp to grow. By the summer of 2016 it was home to 10,000 people, including hundreds of children. And lurking in the shadows were criminal gangs preying on the vulnerable.

As the Jungle grew, so did the number of attacks on tourists and truckers on the approach road to the Port of Calais. Ruthless people traffickers, armed with anything from chainsaws to machetes, would launch burning trees across the road. They were putting people's lives at risk in reckless attempts to stop traffic so desperate migrants could clamber on board Dover-bound lorries.

No matter how many walls and fences were built, the problem never went away. It became clear the only way to tackle this problem would be to dismantle the camp for good.

So during the summer I fought harder than ever to get this done, working closely with the Calais authorities throughout. It was a long and hard battle yet we never gave in. And in October last year the French Government caved in and work to clear the Jungle finally began.

Britain took in hundreds of cold and starving children, meaning they had a roof over their head and a warm bed at Christmas. Vulnerable people living in the camp were moved to centres across France, where they have sanitation and running water in place of the squalor of the Jungle.

We also took action to tackle the number of people reaching our shores on small craft. Too often we saw migrants land on the beaches of Dover and Deal. Who knows how many were arriving undetected.

So security has been stepped up along our shore and the Jungle has been cleared. Yet the migrant crisis has not gone away. That's why I've been putting pressure on the French to make sure they stop any new camps from forming – before the first tent is pitched.

I was pleased to see on Friday that what was once a squalid camp of ramshackle tents and makeshift shops is now completely empty. It was hard to believe that just a few months ago, thousands of people were living here in awful conditions.

So far the French have succeeded in keeping Calais clear. Yet we must all remain vigilant. The Jungle must never be allowed to return.

And in Dover we must invest in building a modern border – fit for Brexit Britain. That means using state-of-the-art technology, data sharing and surveillance to tighten security while keeping trade free flowing.

My top priority is making Brexit work for Dover and Deal. We must start by strengthening our borders and working to make sure the Calais Jungle is gone for good.

1 comment

You should set that to Elgar
- Simon Finlay

Post a comment


26 JAN 2017

From riots to a renaissance of our region

January 30th will mark a year since far-right thugs and violent anti-fascists turned Dover into a warzone.

Families were forced to hide inside their homes as chaos broke out along Folkestone Road. Bottles and bricks were hurled across the street. Market Square descended into mayhem.

Seeing these ugly scenes developing, I knew immediately this must never be allowed to happen again.

The officers on the ground had bravely tried to contain these thugs. Yet they did not have enough support and lost control.

Fast forward to April last year – and many of the mindless louts who had come to Dover simply to cause trouble in January were back, hoping for another fight. Yet following my demand for Dover to be protected, this time there were more than 600 officers waiting for them. Unsurprisingly, the thugs stopped coming back.

And Kent Police have kept up the good work since then. More than 60 people have been charged and several jailed. This is exactly the sort of no-nonsense response the people of Dover and Deal demand. Kent Police should be applauded for their swift and effective crackdown.

Booting these thugs out of town was one of several problems we worked hard to fix in 2016. Let's not forget that last year also saw Burlington House come down, the Calais Jungle dismantled and the Dover to Folkestone rail line fixed.

This was all vital work which we must now build on. And it's clear there are businesses in Dover, Deal and Kent that are desperate to expand.

On Friday, I chaired a Kent summit where we discussed the roads, rail and skills investment needed for our area to thrive. I was joined on the panel by fellow Kent MPs in front of more than 75 business leaders. This Kent and Medway Economic Partnership Summit set a clear strategy on the things our county needs to grow.

We need investment in Kent's roads and railways. The A2 must be dualled – and we need to get on with building the Lower Thames Crossing. We must act now to prevent gridlock and delays – which would affect the whole country, not just Kent.

Meanwhile, we must increase capacity on our train services to meet demand. And it's vital to support East Kent College in providing the lifelong learning needed for a modern economy.

Everyone knows Brexit will present challenges – but there will also be real opportunities to build the sort of Britain we want. A Britain where we take back control of our borders. Where we become the new business centre of the world.

If we make the right investment decisions now, I'm confident the entrepreneurs of Dover, Deal and Kent will lead the way. We must work hard to ensure that this time next year, we are moving forward with the renaissance of our region.

0 comments

Post a comment


20 JAN 2017

Meeting the new head of high-achieving school

I met the new headteacher at high-achieving Dover Grammar School for Girls.

Pupils achieved outstanding A-Level results in 2016, with 71.6 per cent of grades coming in at B or above.

New headteacher Robert Benson, previously deputy head of Queen Elizabeth's Grammar School in Faversham, took over from Matthew Bartlett in October.

He told me he wants to carry on his predecessor's good work, as well as see the standard of facilities match that of exam results.

It was a real pleasure to be shown around the school – a shining example of the brains and brilliance of young people in this area.But they need investment in their old buildings, so they are in an environment that reflects their ability.

The school is having difficulty getting planning permission because of the confined nature of the site and its listed structures. They want to replace old mobile classrooms with a new science block and sixth form centre.

Mr Benson is clearly focused on securing this and it was refreshing to hear his vision for the school. I will do all I can to help make their case for investment.

0 comments

Post a comment


20 JAN 2017

How technology is speeding up mortgages in Dover and Deal

I visited Nationwide's Dover branch and saw how technology is being used to speed up the mortgage process.

Ispent time meeting the building society's staff, touring the branch and learning about new services on offer.

One of these is Nationwide Now, which allows customers to complete mortgage applications via video as soon as they get to the branch, rather than wait for appointments.

It was great to see Nationwide being innovative with digital services. Mortgage access is going to be key to building a better future for Dover and Deal.

I want to see more people owning their own homes and putting down roots in this wonderful area. That's why I was also pleased they have committed to keeping the Dover and Deal branches open, meaning people who want a more traditional service can get it.

0 comments

Post a comment


20 JAN 2017

Remembering victims and survivors of the Holocaust

I have signed a Book of Commitment to honour the millions murdered in the Holocaust and the thousands who survived.

The Holocaust Educational Trust's special tribute comes as Friday (January 27th) marks the anniversary of the liberation of Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz-Birkenau, the site of the largest mass murder in history.

Thousands of commemorative events will be arranged across the country as part of Holocaust Memorial Day.

It is an important opportunity for people from Dover and Deal and across the country to reflect on this tragic event. To think such evil slaughter took place within the last century is a truly solemn reality.

As it moves from living history to the deeper past, it becomes more important than ever we take the time to remember the victims, and also pay tribute to the survivors.

0 comments

Post a comment


20 JAN 2017

Brexit talks at a micropub in Dover

I am calling on people to help me make sure Brexit means Brexit – and that we get on with it.

Many residents concerned about the Supreme Court case have contacted me over the past few months. They told me they don't want the metropolitan elite to be allowed to thwart the will of the people.

They also asked if I would respect the European Union referendum result.

I will vote to trigger Article 50.

I organised a meeting at the Mash Tun micropub in Bench Street, Dover, on Friday to ask people to help deliver a clean Brexit as quickly as possible.

The sooner we get out of Europe the better. We must work together to deliver the mandate of the masses, take back control and build a Brexit Britain that puts places like Dover & Deal first.

Residents interested in working to make sure Brexit happens should email charlie.elphicke.mp@parliament.uk, call 01304 379669 or write to Dover and Deal Conservative Association, 54 The Strand, Walmer, Kent, CT14 7DU.

0 comments

Post a comment


19 JAN 2017

In Brexit Britain places like Dover & Deal must come first

For Brexit Britain to work we need the investment concentrated for so many years in the capital – London – to benefit the districts like Dover and Deal.

The capital has for too long acted as a selfish city, furthering its own aims at the expense of districts like ours. It's not right for things to carry on like this. After all, the Hunger Games is just a film – not a reality.

So I was glad last week when the Transport Secretary refused to let Sadiq Khan get his hands on our trains. We need railways where our local needs are put before those of wealthy Londoners.

Southeastern doesn't run a perfect service – but look across to neighbouring areas served by Southern Rail and you'll see things could be a lot worse.

When I was elected in 2010, I was passionate High Speed rail should be extended. Soon fast trains were running to and from Deal as a peak commuting service, cutting journey times to London by half an hour.

The next step was an all-day service. After my long campaign Transport Ministers announced we would get it from January 2015. This boosted our local economy and made commuting much easier.

This is so important. Brexit Britain must be a nation that works for the local towns and historic regions rather than just the big cities. A Britain that works for the coastal communities as well as the post-industrial heartlands.

That's why it was such good news last week that Dover Priory train station will have a brand new car park.

Things also look promising on the Western Heights. At a meeting with Prisons Minister Sam Gyimah and Dover District Council, we looked at future options for the former Immigration Removal Centre. It could be turned into a luxury hotel or a quality housing development.

The citadel fortress played an important part in keeping Dover and our nation safe and secure. Now it could be the engine to drive the renewal of the Western Heights.

For too long London has grown and grown – not just in size but in wealth and opportunities. The Leave vote was so much higher outside the capital because people seek to change a system they feel doesn't work for them.

That's why we must build a Brexit Britain where you can succeed in the districts without being forced to move to the capital.

As we leave the European Union, Dover and Deal must become Britain's leading trading hub. I'm doing everything I can to ensure we are prepared for the challenges and opportunities ahead.

And that means fighting to make Brexit Britain work for Dover, Deal and East Kent.

0 comments

Post a comment


16 JAN 2017

The return of police officers dedicated to Deal

I am absolutely delighted to announce the return of police officers dedicated to the Deal area. 

I held meetings with the district's new commander Chief Inspector Mitchell Fox, who took over from predecessor Steve Barlow in the autumn.

Chief Inspector Fox assured me the redeployment, which began at the end of last year, will raise police visibility in Deal and the surrounding areas.

A Deal Town Centre Constable now works a shift pattern incorporating up to six days a week. Officers from the Local Policing Team are also based in Deal, ready to respond to emergencies 24 hours a day.

The local force is fearless in its efforts to keep us all safe, and I was delighted to meet the new man at the helm.

Bringing back officers dedicated to Deal is something I have wanted for a long time, so I am delighted Chief Inspector Fox has made it happen. I know how much residents will welcome the greater police presence.

Chief Inspector Fox told me: "My dedicated team works tirelessly to deliver a quality service, place victims and witnesses at the heart of what we do, and in doing so ensure we do the right thing.

"I recognise the district is large and in order to best serve the people, my recent redeployment of officers has led to an improved service to the victims who require our support, and to greater visibility across Deal and the surrounding areas.

"Dover and its villages are typically Kentish – tranquil and safe – and it is my overriding aim to ensure they remain so."

0 comments

Post a comment


14 JAN 2017

Backing the campaign for more mental health support in Deal

I'm backing a campaign for improved mental health services in East Kent.

Tracy Carr's self-funded support group Talk It Out is calling for ring-fenced funding for mental health. She made the case in several TV and radio appearances this week. 

On Saturday I visited volunteers in Deal High Street to add my name to their petition, which has already gained more than a thousand signatures.

Tracy and Talk It Out work tirelessly to make a difference to local people suffering from mental health problems.

But they can't do it alone and I have real concerns about current provision, particularly from the Sussex Partnership. They simply aren't doing enough to help vulnerable people in a timely, meaningful way.

I want to see better mental health care in Dover and Deal and the surrounding areas – because support saves lives.

I organised roundtable discussions between Talk It Out, Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust and South Kent Coast Clinical Commissioning Group at Buckland Hospital at the end of last year.

I am also trying to help Talk It Out get a grant for a well-being café at the Landmark Centre in Deal.

0 comments

Post a comment


12 JAN 2017

Visa waiver system will fund stronger border

Leaving the European Union will mean a lot of change – nowhere more so than at the Dover and Deal frontline.

The end of unchecked EU immigration will require a beefing up of our border controls. The rising threats of organised crime, trafficking and terror all mean we must invest more in intelligence to keep us safe. Yet at the same time we want to maintain the free flow of trade at Dover – and have smooth journeys for legitimate travellers too.

How could we do it and be ready in two years' time? I have written to the Home Secretary, proposing we plan now to adopt a visa waiver system for EU visitors. If we charged every visitor £10, this should raise some £250m a year – enough to increase the UK's Borders Budget by 50%. With this extra money we can boost our efforts at Dover to combat traffickers, terrorists and criminal gangs.

There is a real challenge ahead for Dover. Post Brexit we will need to extend our full border control systems to travellers from the EU to Britain.

The number of visitors and the amount of trade coming through Dover continues to rise. It needs to stay that way. So it is in the interest of both the UK and European Nations that our borders remain open for business.

We must continue to work with our European neighbours to share intelligence and see that proper security checks are made at the borders as needed. This is because we all need to work together to combat organised crime, people trafficking, smuggling and terrorists. Meanwhile, passports must be properly checked on departure. Therefore, systems like the Le Touquet Treaty's juxtaposed controls at Dover and Calais should be maintained as they work in the interests of Britain and France.

Britain faces a number of serious threats at the border. As the Calais Jungle camp grew, the number of migrants being smuggled in the backs of lorries trebled. Add to this people traffickers and rising numbers of people turning up in small boats on the beaches and small ports of Southern England. They amount to a changing border security challenge that must be answered to prevent people breaking into Britain through the Port of Dover or the beaches of Deal – and to stop those who would seek to do us harm.

For faster checks at Dover, investment is needed in modern systems. We must make sure we have enough officers. By adopting a US style visa waiver system we can fund the investment we will need to make in our border controls.

By taking action now we can be ready to have strong borders immediately on Brexit. Borders where we still enable legitimate tourists and trade to flow freely. Yet borders that are strongly policed so we can crackdown on threats to our security.

0 comments

Post a comment


09 JAN 2017

It's all-go for train station car park

I was delighted to learn that a new car park at Dover Priory train station looks set to be built in 2017.

The 100-space surface-level car park was given planning permission by Dover District Council at the end of last year.

It follows a long campaign I led to get more parking provision at the site off Folkestone Road. Essex-based developers Churchgate Ltd will deliver it.

This looks set to be a real victory for commuters. It proves we were right to keep fighting for more parking at Dover Priory.

Network Rail dithered for months before letting us down, but we weren't there for long.

This car park will ensure local people can commute and travel conveniently – another crucial step in building a better future for Dover and Deal.

I will continue to make the case for more spaces, but there is room to expand and add decks when demand dictates it.

Churchgate has been working with Network Rail about using adjacent land which would increase the capacity to around 140 spaces.

The Network Rail-owned land was valued this week and Churchgate has confirmed an intention to buy it. Their managing director told me it will definitely be completed by the end of the year.

0 comments

Post a comment


05 JAN 2017

Let's make Brexit Britain work for Dover and Deal

Happy New Year! After a year of huge change, what lies ahead for Dover and Deal? The past 12 months brought us Brexit, a new Prime Minister and big questions about the future of Britain.

Brexit brings us great opportunities. 2017 will be about making Brexit Britain work for places like Dover and Deal – not just London. That's why I'll keep campaigning in Parliament on the things that matter to families and businesses in Dover and Deal.

Let's start by making sure Brexit works for the Port of Dover – with stronger border security and trade that continues to flow freely. Everyone knows that the best way to get growth without gridlock on our roads is to boost the Border Force budget. We need a new, state-of-the-art system in place to show the world that post-Brexit, Britain means business. Investment must start here at the Dover frontline.

We need a better deal for motorists too. I head the Fair Fuel campaign in Parliament and last year we managed to stop a rise in the tax you pay on petrol. Now we will be making the case for the Government to invest in more regional road projects like the long overdue dualling of the A2.

We need to build a Brexit Britain that works for everyone – and where everyone makes a fair contribution to pay for the public services we all rely on. That's why I am campaigning to make the super-rich and big corporations pay their fair share of tax. Too often it seems like it's one rule for them and another rule for everyone else. I am working to change that and get a better deal on taxes for the hard working classes of modern Britain too.

Meanwhile, the long-running battle to get beds at Buckland Hospital goes on. This has been a really tough struggle. But there is real hope now of success.

We are also working hard to get a new secondary school on the former Walmer Science College site. Too many children in Deal are forced to travel out of town. That's why we need a new school for Deal

I continue to press Highways England to hurry up and get rid of the hated 40mph limit on the A20. They have caved in to our campaign and said they would do it by March. They need to get on with it and deliver.

Brexit was about giving the boot to Brussels. Yet everyone wants to keep Britain open for business. That's why I am working with Calais' political chiefs to deepen our trading links with France. All this means exciting times for Dover and Deal – the gateway and guardian of our land.

There's lots to be getting on with. The hard work starts now. Here's to a fantastic 2017 where we make the most of all the opportunities that now surround us.

0 comments

Post a comment


21 DEC 2016

Meeting Xavier to discuss Brexit Britain

Just before Christmas I met with leading French politician Xavier Bertrand at Dover's Best Western Plus Marina Hotel.

Having worked together over the summer to get the Calais Jungle dismantled, we discussed boosting business, tourism and border security in a meeting with the President of the Hauts-des-France region.

Now the migrant camp is gone, we want boost business and tourism in Dover and Calais.

We also discussed the importance of making border security on both sides of the Channel water-tight – and increasing trade without gridlock on the roads.

The hotel's managing director Trevor Bond also raised potential business opportunities between the two regions.

It was fantastic to welcome Xavier Bertrand to Dover with an excellent lunch at the Dover Marina Hotel. We had a really good chat about the amazing opportunities there are to make Brexit work for Dover and Calais.

Mr Bertrand is very keen to work with us in making both Dover and Calais top tourist destinations. He also wants to boost business between the regions.

It just goes to show that Brexit was about giving the boot to Brussels, yet keeping Britain open for business.

This means exciting times for Dover and Deal.

0 comments

Post a comment


18 DEC 2016

Working hard to drive forward Dover & Deal's jobs revolution

Back in 2010, I pledged to do everything I could to bring more jobs to our area. And over the past six years we’ve had a jobs revolution. Unemployment in Dover and Deal has fallen 41% and youth unemployment has almost halved.

I'm passionate about getting people into work. For young people, apprenticeships are a fantastic way of getting on the jobs ladder. Not everyone has to go to university to do well in life.

But what about adults – either in or out of work – who are desperate to do something different? There are hundreds, if not thousands, of people in Dover and Deal who would love to learn new skills and get a trade for life.

That’s why I’m pressing the Government to give more funding to further education colleges throughout the land. Post-Brexit, we need to build a Britain which leads the world in science and technology. Where we train people to drive the digital economy forward.

And at East Kent College’s Dover campus, as well as in Sandwich, forward-thinking Principal Graham Razey is doing just that. He showed me round the amazing facilities they have at Discovery Park. Good teaching of subjects like science, technology, engineering and maths is vital for the future of the UK economy.

In Dover and Deal everyone knows that over the next decade we must upgrade our border technology. This means youngsters should have the choice at school to learn the skills needed to man state-of-the-art border controls. Yet adults excited by the idea of a new career must have these opportunities too. That’s why we must have lifelong learning.

My view is this. It doesn’t matter how old you are, or where you come from – if you want to learn new skills then you must be given the chance. There must be ladders throughout life for everyone.

The most important thing is choice. I back the Government's bid to build new grammar schools. But I believe Ministers should also look at having more faith schools and more skills education at every stage of life. Parents in Dover, Deal and Kent as a whole see grammar schools and faith-based schools like St Edmund’s as engines of opportunity and aspiration. Yet we need skills for late developers and people re-training too.

Dover has two brilliant grammar schools. In recent years pupils at Dover Grammar School for Girls have even got better results than students at Eton.

But exams are not the be all and end all. It is also vital students are given the best possible life chances by having the choice to learn skills like plumbing, carpentry and electronics at every stage of life.

So, to keep driving forward Dover and Deal’s jobs revolution through the digital age, we must keep finding new ways of training people to work in a fast-moving market. That means more choice at school – and more opportunities for adults to learn new skills throughout their lives.

0 comments

Post a comment


08 DEC 2016

Burlington House rubble helps build Destination Dover

Huge pyramids of rubble are looming over Dover docks. They grow every day as work forges ahead on the Western Docks Revival. But there is more here than meets the eye.

These heaps of brick and rock, which will be used to build the new cargo terminal, are the remains of Dover's most-hated building – Burlington House. At last the Townwall Street eyesore is being put to good use, for the first time ever.

For decades the ugly empty building towered over Dover. After years of failed bids to knock it down, most people thought they would never see it demolished. Yet last year the demolition diggers arrived – and we had a fantastic summer watching it being torn down, brick by brick.

Getting Burlington House down was a huge victory for Dover. It was a symbol of how things are changing. And now Burlington House will become the foundations of a new cargo terminal at the Western Docks.

But there is far more to the Western Docks Revival than just cargo. Port chief executive Tim Waggott has often stated his ambition for Dover to be the best port in the world. And it looks like strong plans are now in place for a world class new marina to transform the seafront. When finished, people will be able to enjoy a drink and a bite to eat while looking out at, for me, the best view in the world – Dover Castle and the White Cliffs.

I was treated to a tour of the project on Friday – and you can really feel the excitement fizzing down at the docks right now. New chairman Richard Everitt is a breath of fresh air. This is the first time in a long time the port will have a chairman who will work well with the community and be trusted by the community. With strong leadership the port is now driving Dover forward towards a brighter future.

And our docks are also vital to the national economy – accounting for a quarter of Britain's trade with the European Union. So in the Commons on Thursday, I pressed Brexit Minister David Jones to prioritise Dover for funding to keep trade booming post-Brexit. And on Monday I asked Immigration Minister Robert Goodwill to spend more on upgrading our border technology to keep traffic flowing and security tight.

I have also written to Brexit Secretary David Davis, arguing Dover needs investment to grow without gridlock. Our freight traffic has gone up 30% in just three years – with a further 40% rise expected by 2030.

It's clear that Dover is leading the way, handling more trade than any other port and pushing ahead with exciting projects like the Western Docks Revival.

That's why I keep making the case for more investment at the docks – to keep trade growing without gridlock, bolster border security and help build Destination Dover.

0 comments

Post a comment


08 DEC 2016

Ending the A20 40mph speed limit

The hated A20 40mph speed limit needs to be scrapped as soon as possible. Drivers are well and truly fed up of crawling along at 40mph – especially with foreign lorries dangerously tailgating and hurtling past.

That's why I got everyone around the table last week to make sure they work quickly to make the speed limit variable.

It was a really positive meeting. Natural England and the AONB said they would work closely with Highways England to get things moving. It's great that Highways England listened to our demands and agreed to scrap the 40mph limit. Now it's time to deliver. They must not let the timetable slip beyond March and need to keep a strong grip on this project.

I have also written to Kent Police, asking the force to step up their patrols and presence on the A20 to deter foreign lorry drivers from flouting the speed limit.

0 comments

Post a comment


08 DEC 2016

Dogs Trust

I am very pleased to support the Dogs Trust's campaign to protect our pooches from pet passport abuse and puppy farming.

The Dogs Trust has championed canine welfare for more than a century, most recently achieving success with the law requiring compulsory microchipping which came into force earlier this year.

Dog welfare is something I feel very strongly about, and I commend the incredible efforts Dogs Trust has gone to in a bid to improve the lives of dogs across the country over the past 125 years. I pledge to help do my bit to drive change for dogs over the next 12 months and beyond.

Over the years the Dogs Trust has opened shelters for dogs and campaigned against the widespread use of dogs for vivisection and the persecution of stray dogs following rabies scares.

0 comments

Post a comment


08 DEC 2016

Fairer Prices At The Pumps

As the cost of oil rises, too often we see prices rocketing at the pumps. Yet when oil goes down, forecourt prices fall like a feather.

This is why, along with fellow Conservative MPs Maria Caulfield and Peter Aldous, in my role as the chair of the FairFuelUK parliamentary group I have made the case to the Chancellor Philip Hammond that the Government look into the concerns people have about forecourt pricing. It is welcome that the Chancellor listened to the concerns of MP's and continued the fuel duty freeze in his Autumn Statement. We must ensure we get the best deal on fuel for hard working families and small businesses in Dover and Deal.

That's why a new independent watchdog like PumpWatch is needed - to crack down on predatory pricing at the pump.

We also argued for more money to be spent on fixing and improving roads in places like Dover and Deal – rather than all the cash being spent in London.

0 comments

Post a comment


02 DEC 2016

Sandwich Discovery Park

It was great to see the amazing facilities at Discovery Park in Sandwich, and to discuss the courses East Kent College offer there with their head Graham Razey.

Good teaching of subjects like science, technology, engineering and maths is vital for the future of the local and national economy.

It doesn't matter how old you are, or where you come from – if you want to learn new skills then you must be given the chance. That's why I've been pressing for more funding for further education. We must give people ladders throughout life.

0 comments

Post a comment


01 DEC 2016

Working hard to make our borders stronger and more secure

Last week more migrants arrived at Dover in a small craft. The seven men – all believed to be Iranian – were rescued after being spotted shivering in a dinghy off the coast.

This was yet another sign of the extreme lengths people will go to break into Britain. Crossing the English Channel in a small boat as winter sets in is about as dangerous as it gets. Earlier this month a man tried to do the same in a kayak. Amazingly he is thought to have made it all the way from Calais without any help. He survived, as did the seven men in the dinghy last week. But how many are not so lucky? It just goes to show the sheer desperation of so many people to reach our shores.

That's why I met with Immigration Minister Robert Goodwill last week, demanding a strong police presence is kept up in Calais. Of course, dismantling the Jungle camp was a huge step in restoring order at the border. The number of attacks on Dover-bound tourists and truckers at Calais has plummeted – as has the number of migrants smuggled across the Channel through our port. For the people of Calais, their town is at long last returning to normal.

Dismantling the Jungle was a hammer blow in our war against the people traffickers and their evil trade of modern slavery. Closing the camp means the hundreds of children and vulnerable people will now spend Christmas in a safer home, far from the traffickers, rather than freezing in the Jungle mud.

But seeing more migrants turn up at Dover in small craft reminds us that the war to secure our borders is far from over. It's clear that although the Jungle camp has gone – we now need to be more vigilant than ever. Last week's incident underlines the need to ensure we scan our seas for people traffickers, protect our borders and strengthen our intelligence effort with France.

Dover is both gateway and guardian of the kingdom. Making sure our border is strong and that trade flows through smoothly is vital. I wanted to see first-hand how this is working, so I recently visited the border controls at Dover. I was really impressed to see how Border Force officers were able to smoke out a smuggler who had stashed thousands of illegal cigarettes in a car. Our border officers do vital work stopping dodgy goods, drugs and guns from being brought into Britain.

This was a great spot by the officers. But it was also clear to me that, going forward, sharing information on crooks and working together with the intelligence services will become ever more important in keeping our border secure. The only way to truly win the war against the people traffickers is to make it impossible to break in to Britain. Keeping watch over our seas this Christmas will also save lives.

0 comments

Post a comment


01 DEC 2016

New Powers For Traffic Wardens

I have written to the Home Office and the Department for Transport, calling for traffic wardens to be given the powers to start fining lorry drivers for brazenly blocking roads.

Under current law, only the police can deal with vehicles parked dangerously or right in front of homes and businesses. However, officers busy dealing with serious crime treat reports of obstructive parking as low priority and fail to deal with them.

Shocking statistics show the number of fines has dropped by 97 per cent in the last 15 years, from more than a million across the UK in 2001 to just 42,800 last year.

It means in places like Poulton Close in Dover, lorry drivers block residential roads for several days at a time. They often leave litter lying around – and some residents come home to find they can not even get to their driveway.

Yet only a fraction of offences are ever dealt with, official crime figures show.

Rather than targeting people who have just nipped into the shops – surely traffic wardens would be much better off ridding our roads of poorly parked lorries, many of which are from overseas. It's common sense that traffic wardens should be doing this, while the police get on with making our streets safer by hunting down violent criminals.

It's time for traffic wardens to step up and rid our roads of these lorries.

0 comments

Post a comment


25 NOV 2016

Western Docks Revival

It is important that the Government invests in the Port of Dover – to keep trade growing without gridlock, bolster border security and help build Destination Dover. In the Commons on Thursday, I told Brexit Minister David Jones that Dover accounts for a huge chunk of Britain's trade with the EU and must be prioritised for funding.

During a recent visit to the port, I hopped on board a patrol boat to see the impressive work being done on the Western Docks Revival. It was an historic day for our town when the fight to demolish Burlington House was finally won, and now the rubble from the hated building is being used to form the foundations of the new cargo terminal at the port.

Investment in the port is not only important to help build Destination Dover, but also so it can grow without causing gridlock in the town. I have written to the Brexit Secretary David Davis to make the case, highlighting that since 2005, Dover has had the highest increase in traffic of all UK major ports.

Since 2010 Dover has seen a higher growth in units passing through the port than any other major UK port. Freight traffic volumes have risen 30% in just three years. This is expected to rise by a further 40% by 2030.

It's clear that Dover is leading the way, handling more trade than any other port and pushing ahead with exciting projects like the Western Docks Revival. That's why I keep making the case for investment at the docks – to keep trade growing without gridlock, bolster border security and help build Destination Dover.

0 comments

Post a comment


19 NOV 2016

White Cliffs Christmas

It was great to go along to the fabulous White Cliffs Christmas at the Old Marine Station. It was so good to see families having fun at the ice rink, and the Cockles & Co. bar was also a delight.

Well done to the Port of Dover and everyone else involved in putting on such an excellent event. The event also included a Christmas market, sweet shop, food and drink concessions, and a display of vintage vehicles from the Dover Transport Museum.

White Cliffs Christmas is open at Cruise Terminal One until 2 January, so be sure to go along for a great time to be had by all with friends and family.

0 comments

Post a comment


18 NOV 2016

Visiting UK Border Force at the Eastern Docks

It was great to visit UK Border Force at the Eastern Docks to see the fantastic work Border Force officers do catching smugglers.

I was really impressed to see how Border Force officers smoked out one smuggler who stashed dozens of dodgy packets of illegal cigarettes from the Ukraine inside the wheel of a car.

These guys do vital work stopping dodgy goods, drugs and guns from being brought into Britain. They are also on the frontline in the war against the evil trade of people trafficking.

I have since met with Immigration Minister Robert Goodwill, demanding a strong police presence is kept up in Calais now the Jungle is dismantled. It's great that the migrant camp has been cleared and the number of people breaking into Britain through Dover has dropped, but we must remain vigilant at our borders. The French need to stop any new camps from forming – before the first tent is pitched.

0 comments

Post a comment


18 NOV 2016

Miners Pensions

Gary Cox, an ex-miner from Deal, has met with me to raise concerns over the miner's pension scheme after former coal workers in Dover and Deal told me they are getting a rotten deal.

I really think this needs to be looked at. A lot has changed since the pensions deal was struck more than two decades ago. Miners worked incredibly hard in tough conditions and they deserve dignity in retirement.

Hundreds of ex-miners live in the Dover and Deal area which is home to Kent's coalfields in villages like Tilmanstone and Betteshanger. I am proud of our coal-producing heritage, as well as the work we have done to bring that to life with regeneration projects like in Betteshanger.

As a member of the Public Accounts Committee, I will be writing to the committee chairman to ask for an inquiry into this matter – and asking to lead it. I have also written to Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Damian Green MP, and invited Mr Cox and several other ex-miners to the House of Commons for further talks.

0 comments

Post a comment


18 NOV 2016

Tax Credits Problems

There have been some big issues with HMRC and the payment of tax credits in recent weeks which has been affecting people across Dover and Deal who have been left out of pocket by the blunders of private firm Concentrix.

Gavin Smith and Amy Jones, from Deal, were left with barely enough money to put food on the table for their five children when their payments were wrongly stopped.

They had wanted to add another child to their existing tax credits claim. But instead HMRC closed their claim down and told them it would take "three to four weeks" to process a new one.

Gavin and Amy came to me for help, and we managed to get their claim sorted over the phone, backdating it to include money missing from previous weeks.

I'm delighted for Gavin and Amy, who really were in a desperate situation. I want people in Dover and Deal to know that if they need my help, I will do everything in my power to fight their corner.

I'm very concerned by what's been going on with tax credits, particularly with Concentrix. I will be raising my concerns on the Public Accounts Committee.

0 comments

Post a comment


18 NOV 2016

Fundraising for Kelly Turner

Our community has come together in an incredible way to raise money for Kelly Turner. She is now getting close to an amount that would pay for potentially life-saving surgery – but her family say the deadline is "now".

Kelly, aged 16 and from Dover, was diagnosed with a desmoplastic small round cell tumour (DSRCT) in October 2015 and given two years to live. After the NHS refused to carry out a costly procedure, the St Edmund's pupil's family found a facility in New York willing to do it but at a cost of £1 million. So far around £289,000 has been raised.

I am contacting NHS chiefs asking them to match fund what has been raised.

But we might get to half a million just through local action. That is a testament to the hard work, compassion and loyalty of the people of Dover and Deal.

Please everyone, for the sake of this wonderful girl and her family, keep going with your efforts.

To donate to Kelly Turner, visit https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/kelly-turner or text 70070 with the code 'KPTF99 £' and the amount after the pound sign.

0 comments

Post a comment


17 NOV 2016

Fighting to get families and firms a fairer deal on fuel

A month ago the price of oil rose, sterling went down and forecourt pump prices rocketed. Drivers in Dover and Deal watched with increasing alarm as the dials whizzed round ever faster. Since then the price of oil has fallen and sterling has gone up. Yet pump prices stuck fast at 117p a litre. They have been even higher in some places – I receive many complaints about this from residents of Deal.

This is yet another example of how pump prices jump like a rocket yet fall like a feather. Only when tackled in the media over the weekend have prices started to fall with the supermarkets leading the way.

This is why I got more than 50 Conservative MPs together to make a joint call for action. There needs to be a fairer deal for drivers at the pumps. For too long, greedy big oil companies have been making the fuel market work for them. It needs to work for the hard working people of East Kent. We need a fair deal at the pumps, a transparent market and a crackdown on predatory pricing.

The Government has done a lot. Fuel duty has been frozen since 2011. The notorious fuel escalator of the previous times has been junked. It's now time for big oil companies do their bit too. They must act fairly to drivers, businesses and the hard working classes of modern Britain.

Since the EU referendum it's clear to see how drivers have been taken for a ride. Research by the FairFuel campaign shows that in August, following the referendum, wholesale fuel prices fell by 5% but pump prices didn't move. Then in late September and early October when wholesale prices rose by 5%, pump prices immediately jumped. Most recently, the wholesale price of fuel fell by 4p between October 10th and November 10th. Even with the 3p cut started by the supermarkets this week, pump prices still have further to fall for drivers to get a fair deal at current oil prices.

So it's clear to see why pricing transparency is such a grave concern to drivers. People feel deeply that prices rise like a rocket and fall like a feather as oil prices fluctuate – because that is exactly what happens. That's why we need the Government to set up PumpWatch – a powerful and independent watchdog.

The fuel duty freeze since 2011 has been of huge benefit to drivers in Dover and Deal, saving £126 a year. This makes such a difference as transport is the second largest cost for most families. The freeze has boosted the economy without losing revenue – as the total collected through income tax has risen.

Hard working people in Dover and Deal have a right to live in a country that works for everyone. Let's start driving that forward by giving every driver a fairer deal on the forecourt.

0 comments

Post a comment


17 NOV 2016

Latest Jobs Figures

I am really pleased that the latest jobs figures show a 41% fall in unemployment in Dover and Deal since 2010. There are now only 1,316 people claiming out of work benefits. Youth unemployment is also down 47% since 2010, with only 310 youth claimants.

These figures show that our plan is working to get more people back into work. We need to build a Britain that works for everyone with more investment in jobs in towns like Dover and Deal, and more apprenticeships and training for our young people to help them get on in the world of work.

0 comments

Post a comment


13 NOV 2016

Remembrance Sunday

I was honoured to attend the moving Remembrance service in Deal on Sunday, and to lay a wreath of poppies at the war memorial at Deal Hospital.

I'm proud so many people in this area are as grateful as I am for the sacrifices our servicemen and women have made. It is difficult to describe, or even comprehend, what these people have done for us. Homes, friends and loved ones were left behind for the sake of perilous missions in appalling circumstances. Millions paid with their blood for the freedom we enjoy today. The respects we pay in return are a mere fraction of what is due.

Cllr Lesley-Ann Burke laid a wreath on my behalf at the Remembrance Sunday service in Dover at the war memorial in Biggin Street.

0 comments

Post a comment


10 NOV 2016

Let's deliver Brexit - and make it work for Dover and Deal

Leaving the European Union will bring some challenges yet greater opportunities. We have the chance to create stronger borders, more jobs and money and better prospects for people in places like Dover and Deal.

It's quite wrong for the establishment and big business elite to try and stop us leaving the EU as they have been trying to do. They must listen to what the British people have decided. The people voted for Brexit. Theresa May has the mandate of the masses to get on with it.

In Dover and Deal and across Britain, the decision on June 23 was clear. I was concerned about the impact on our border at Calais. Yet the people decided by a clear majority. That's why I rolled up my sleeves and got straight to work to make a success of Brexit.

The French had threatened to scrap the Le Touquet Treaty if we left the EU. Some Presidential candidates across the Channel are still saying this. Yet they know just as well as we do that axing the treaty would be a disaster for both nations. So I've been holding talks with the French to build a new and stronger cross-Channel pact for the border security of both our nations. Doing my bit to get the upside without the downside.

The first step was to work together to dismantle the Calais Jungle. The camp has now been cleared. Now the police presence in Calais must stay strong to put an end to the migrant magnet once and for all.

The next step is to work closely with the French on building stronger cross-Channel intelligence. We need to know what the evil people traffickers are plotting long before they get to Calais. Then we can catch them, jail them and seize all their assets. Only with the right intelligence and the best technology can we make our border stronger than ever.

It's clear the British people will not accept any form of Brexit deal which fails to take back control of our borders. Yet the vote on June 23 was also about something bigger. It was a revolt against the status quo – against a Britain that for too long has worked for the big cities, big business and the moneyed metropolitan elite.

Brexit Britain must now be about places like Dover and Deal. We must grab this opportunity to revive the local towns and regions of modern Britain.

I am determined to make Brexit work for Dover and Deal. To get more jobs and money for the hard working classes. To support the small businesses who create the jobs. To fix our roads so the port can grow without gridlock.

The decision on June 23 was clear and final. We must get to work on delivering it.

0 comments

Post a comment


04 NOV 2016

Porchlight

I was really impressed by Porchlight's hard work supporting people who face the challenges of mental illness and homelessness. They showed me around supported accommodation in Douglas Road in Dover.

Porchlight are so forward-looking in working to get people back on their feet and helping them move on into permanent accommodation. The Porchlight team explained how almost half of the people they helped on the streets last year had a mental health need.

I'm asking the district council how they can do more to support Porchlight's efforts to move people on into permanent housing and independent living.

The charity provides a range of hostel options – from low support schemes to medium and high support versions, staffed up to 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The hostels they provide are made up of single rooms, self-contained bedsits and shared or self-contained flats.

0 comments

Post a comment


04 NOV 2016

Meeting Local Business Leaders

It was great to hold talks with local business leaders, at a lunch hosted by NatWest in Dover, about the massive projects coming to the area – and the potential impact of Brexit.

Local businesses know we are trying to build a better future for Dover and Deal. It was encouraging to hear how hard they work and how much they want us to succeed.

I was joined by Sue Robinson from CMS Employment Agency Ltd, Paula Elliott from Pitmans Training, Martin Husk from Coombe Valley Transport Ltd, Simon Crowley from Tersons Estate Agents, Ian Pascall from McCabe Ford Williams, Roland Parry from the Battle of Britain Memorial, and Steve Oxenham from Majestic Freight Forwarding.

We all hope the St James and Western Docks projects will put more money in people's pockets, and more footfall on our high streets. But these small business are the ones who have stuck at it through tough times. They kept the local economy ticking over, often with little or no outside help.

Small and medium-sized businesses have created 3.4 million new jobs in the private sector in the past 15 years. That's ten times more than big businesses. They are the lifeblood of our economy.

I promised to do keep doing everything I can to ensure small businesses get support and investment so our area has the best chance of a brighter future.

It was great Dover's NatWest Bank hosted this gathering. The local NatWest tell me they are deeply committed to backing local business and more local jobs. I want to thank them for getting everyone together.

0 comments

Post a comment


03 NOV 2016

Building the homes we need in Dover and Deal

All over Dover and Deal cranes tower in the skyline and diggers roll by as workmen are busy getting things built.

Since 2010, we've built a new state-of-the-art hospital, fixed our rail line in record time – and soon new shops and restaurants will spring up at the St James site.

Meanwhile, thousands of new homes have been built across the constituency. But still, young people are finding it too hard to get on the housing ladder.

It shouldn't just be an aspiration, it should be the norm. Homes are somewhere to settle in the community, raise a family, create personal and lasting memories, and lay the foundations for an even better future for our loved ones.

But for too long people haven't had the supply to meet demand. That's why it's vital we back brilliant projects like the Connaught Barracks development I visited on Friday.

Some 500 homes will go up at the former army barracks. Most of the old buildings have been torn down, with construction of new houses due to start next year. They will be affordable, good quality, have stunning views, and make sensible use of government land that is no longer needed. Many will be starter homes for first-time buyers.

We've made a good start on getting new homes built. The number of new builds started in Dover and Deal in 2015 was 394, almost double the UK average of 222. Another 167 new builds were started in the first two quarters of 2016.

We've also had a jobs revolution in Dover and Deal since 2010. Unemployment is down 46 per cent since 2010, while youth unemployment has fallen 60 per cent. These new workers need good homes to live in and decent places to shop.

That's why I was so disappointed when the Campaign to Protect Rural England again blocked plans for hundreds more homes in Farthingloe. This project would bring investment for what could be an outstanding tourist attraction at the Drop Redoubt and Western Heights. We must put the future of our young people ahead of such unelected, anti-democratic campaign groups.

This sort of nimby thinking has already caused problems at Connaught Barracks. Weeks of work and tens of thousands of pounds were lost, I was told, because of an EU Habitats Directive which meant workers had to accommodate a community of bats on site, including their very own "bat hotel".

Everyone knows I have always been an animal lover – but spending that sort of time and money is just absolutely batty. It's also another good reason to leave the EU, which for so long has put red tape in the way of getting things done.

But despite the best efforts of the EU, the CPRE and other out-of-touch cliques – with hard work we'll keep getting things done for Dover and Deal.

0 comments

Post a comment


28 OCT 2016

Connaught Barracks Development

It's great to see things really moving forward with the much-needed development at the Connaught Barracks. Huge progress has been made since I last visited, with now more than half of the old buildings demolished. Demolition of all buildings was due to completed by early spring 2017, but owners the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) say it could now be several weeks earlier.

Some 500 homes will be built at the former army barracks when DDS Demolition have finished clearing the site. It will provide hundreds of homes for local families for years to come, and bring in investment from elsewhere. It's another example of how we are working hard to build a better future for Dover.

I was also shown around the development's very own "bat hotel". The HCA has spent thousands of pounds making changes to an old squash court to look after the community of bats found on-site – because of an EU Habitats Directive.

It is just absolutely batty that months of work and tens of thousands of pounds have been lost thanks to this EU directive.

2 comments

Couldn't agree more, Charlie.
- Kenneth Read

Glad to see that finally the land is being used, before the old buildings became more and more of an eyesore. Quite agree with your comment that whilst we need to protect nature and our environment we cannot be continually impeded by crazy and unaffordable policies implemented on us by unelected groups including the Brussels. Let's just hope our government can proceed to adopt the decision of the people to break with the EU rapidly without the interference of our judiciary and the wasted time in interparty discussion in Westminster that will be more about reversing the Brexit decision than objective discussion.
- Elaine Barker

Post a comment


24 OCT 2016

Dualling the A2

Along with a delegation of Kent MPs, I met with the Chancellor Philip Hammond to make the case for dualling the A2 all the way to the Port of Dover.

For decades the people of Dover and Deal have wanted the road widened – but plans were axed by Labour in the late 1990s. I am determined to get the dualling of the A2 back on the table.

The Chancellor listened carefully to the case which was powerfully put on Monday by 10 Kent MPs in support of my campaign.

I've been working tirelessly to make this happen for the good of Dover, Deal and the nation. The upgrading of the A2 at Dover is long overdue. The Chancellor said he would take our case into account. I was delighted to have the support of all my county colleagues.

But we should be under no illusion of how tough this is. We were sold down the river by John Prescott and the Labour Party. To have real growth in the local economy without gridlock on our roads it's vital we look at dualling the A2.

The A2 needs to be dualled in order to bust the bottlenecks caused by the road narrowing to a single carriageway at Lydden and Whitfield. The Government predicts the amount of roll on - roll off traffic will increase by 101% by 2030. The number of vehicles travelling through the Port of Dover has already rocketed – from 1.6million cars and 730,000 lorries in 1985 to 2.3 million cars and 2.5 million HGVs in 2015.

At the meeting with the Chancellor, we also called for J7 Brenley Corner to be upgraded to deal with capacity issues, and we made the case for the Lower Thames Crossing joining to the M11 as a corridor to the North rather than to the M25 as presently proposed.

0 comments

Post a comment


20 OCT 2016

Building a brighter future for Betteshanger, Dover and Deal

Anyone who has turned on the news recently might think all that MP's care about is Brexit. Every day there are more headlines about the ups and downs of leaving the European Union. In my view everyone should accept the referendum result and we should just get on with it.

Yet what matters most to me is rolling up my sleeves and getting things done for Dover and Deal. That's why it was so great to take part in the "topping out" ceremony at Betteshanger Sustainable Parks on Friday. The frame of the £8 million visitor centre is now complete – and we are one step closer to its official opening next spring.

One of my election pledges when I ran to be your MP in 2010 was to get more jobs and money – seeing the £40 million Betteshanger project built is part of that. I was determined we got the 121-hectare site around the former colliery back to its best. That's why I have done all I can to support Hadlow College in its bid to turn the brownfield site into a sustainable energy park, with a focus on green technology and renewable energy. The plan is now to build a campus and small business hub on the old colliery site itself.

Once open, the park will create about 1,000 new jobs in the area. I am urging the Government to make the new park part of the Discovery Park Enterprise Zone.

Getting more jobs and money was not the only thing I campaigned for in 2010. I vowed to stop our Port of Dover from being sold off to the French or whoever. And we stopped privatisation. We fought for a new hospital in Dover. We got it built. We campaigned for more jobs for Dover and Deal. Since 2010, unemployment is down 46 per cent and youth unemployment has dropped by 60 per cent.

But we must not stop there. Dover and Deal are on the up – but it is a work in progress. That's why we're now battling to fix our roads by making sure Highways England stick to their promise to end the 40mph limit on the A20. We're doing all we can to get the A2 dualled all the way to Dover. Burlington House is down but Dover now needs to get Cineworld, Nando's and the other St James' shops built. The Port of Dover must finish its roadworks on time and start building a new marina. The rail line is fixed – but we must make sure Dover and Deal commuters get a good service.

We've done a lot and come a long way together in Dover and Deal. Yet there's no place for complacency when there's so much more to get done.

0 comments

Post a comment


20 OCT 2016

De Bradelei Wharf

It's great to hear De Bradelei will be opening its doors again, but we still need guarantees from the former owners that hard-working staff will be paid every penny they are owed.

They lost their jobs without warning or wages. They will have mortgages and rent to pay – and need to put food on the table. In the meantime, the new owners should give these people their jobs back.

0 comments

Post a comment


14 OCT 2016

Betteshanger Sustainable Parks

It's great to see Betteshanger Sustainable Parks, and their impressive visitor centre really taking shape. The building is going to be superb – a blend of heritage and innovation in an all-encompassing scheme. It is a real victory for the hard work of so many who have fought so hard to make this project happen.

As part of the "topping out' ceremony, held to mark the building of the centre's frame being completed, I hopped on a bike and used pedal power to help raise an "evergreen" wreath to the top of the building, recognising the centre's focus on green technology.

The official opening of the centre, part of a 121-hectare site which was once a coal colliery, is scheduled for spring 2017. It will house the Kent Mining Museum, the Green Energy Centre, a restaurant, cycle centre, shops, a conference suite and event facilities. The centre is part of a wider £40 million regeneration project.

Hadlow College deserve high praise for the future they are seeking to build. Now schools, residents, tourists and everyone else will be able to enjoy the state-of-the-art facility for years to come.

0 comments

Post a comment


14 OCT 2016

Goodwin Academy

It was fantastic to speak to students at the Goodwin Academy about Brexit, my job as an MP and what the Government is doing for people their age. I was really impressed by how much they already knew about politics – and the passion they have for the subject.

The students have been working on a project that looks at the impact the Government's policies have on public services. It's so important young people are engaged with politics. They must play a key part in building Brexit Britain.

They are clearly being taught well at the Goodwin Academy. Great strides have been made at the school in the past year.

0 comments

Post a comment


13 OCT 2016

Calais Jungle must be fully dismantled, never to return

At long last, it appears the Calais Jungle's days may be numbered. When I visited the camp last month, I was shocked. It's worse than I have ever seen it. It should have been dismantled years ago. Instead the numbers there have swollen to 10,000 people. Traffickers roam free, feasting on people's hopes of a better life – yet all they sell are broken dreams and a life of modern slavery should the migrants make it to Britain. This situation puts real pressure on our border at the Dover frontline.

We've heard empty promises from the French before. This time they must ensure the Jungle is fully dismantled – and never allowed to return.

What is needed is a clear plan where the British and French Governments work together to put an end to this shameful situation once and for all:

 

 

 

  1. The people traffickers must be caught and jailed. Make no mistake – these evil slave-masters are at the heart of the migrant crisis. Britain and France must work together to smash the trafficking gangs and disrupt their networks.
  2. Protect tourists, truckers and trade at Calais. The attacks we have seen by these chainsaw wielding, tree throwing, petrol bombing criminals on the road to Calais are totally unacceptable. The tragic case of an Eritrean migrant killed in Calais on Sunday by a British driver, who was swerving to avoid an attack by traffickers, shows how dangerous the situation has become. Urgent action is needed to catch these gangs and end their evil trade of modern slavery.
  3. Patrol our English Channel. We should increase the Border Force budget and have more than three boats to guard 7,000 miles of coastline. Last month, three Iranians arrived at Walmer beach in a dinghy and claimed asylum. Migrants are detected landing on the beaches of Kent in small craft on a monthly, if not weekly basis – who knows how many more arrive undetected? We need a bigger fleet of border boats patrolling the Channel and a squadron of Dover drones tracking traffickers from the sky. 
  4. The Jungle should be fully dismantled – now. That means properly dismantled and the people there should be moved to places of safety far from Calais. The French need to be sure people cannot simply sneak back to Calais. The Jungle must never return.
  5. The migrants should be helped back to their home nations. Any asylum claims should be processed and failed asylum seekers should be repatriated.

 

The situation at Calais is appalling. The conditions there are an affront to humanity. That's why it is vital Britain and France work together to help the vulnerable, bolster border security and wage war on the people traffickers. Only then can we properly protect tourists, truckers and trade – and end the evil of modern slavery.

0 comments

Post a comment


06 OCT 2016

Victory in our campaign to end A20 40mph speed limit

Dover and Deal are iconic, historic towns. I truly believe the Dover and Deal constituency is the best seat in the country – and one which I love to serve. The life of an MP is a very busy one, much of which must be spent up at the House of Commons in London. But what I really love about my job is getting to meet the people who matter most – the people of Dover and Deal.

That's why it was great to hold street stalls in Dover and Deal on Saturday. The rain may have started to pour, but people were still keen to come up, say hello and let me know about the local issues affecting them.

Everyone was delighted we had fixed the Dover to Folkestone rail line way ahead of schedule. This is such a vital route for people from Dover and Deal. That's why I worked relentlessly to get it fixed as quickly as possible.

People were pleased the French have heeded my call to dismantle the Calais migrant camp. We must keep up the pressure and make sure they actually do it this time. People were also supportive of my plan for a new Dover Patrol to shield our shores from people traffickers and tackle illegal immigration.

There was also much positive feedback on the huge fall in joblessness in Dover and Deal since 2010 – especially in youth unemployment. Getting people into work is one of my greatest passions. That's why it's so important the Government spends more money on places like Dover and Deal, creating good jobs for youngsters when they leave school.

But there was one issue for Dover and Deal which everyone I spoke to on Saturday agreed needs sorting urgently – the A20. People were delighted to hear Highways England have caved in to my campaign and are finally ending the 40mph limit on the dual carriageway to Dover.

But they also urged me to press the Port of Dover to hurry up with finishing their roadworks on the A20 along the seafront. Drivers said they were fed-up of being stuck in gridlock on the way to and from work – and were being forced to drive through Dover town instead.

My greatest fear is that these roadworks will drag on way past the scheduled completion date. This is why Highways England should step in and make sure the Port of Dover has a plan to see the works are completed as soon as possible.

Much has been done over the past few months. Highways England's vow to end the 40mph limit on the A20 is a great victory for people power. Yet we need to see it through, make sure it happens and get the Harbour Board's A20 roadworks finished too.

0 comments

Post a comment


06 OCT 2016

Support for New Dover Patrol

My plan for a new Dover Patrol has been backed by a top military general and a former Border Force boss.

Major General Julian Thompson, a former Royal Marine and a Falklands veteran, and Tony Smith, director general of Border Force until 2013, believe that a new patrol led by the Royal Marines would help tackle people traffickers and prevent migrants landing on our shores in small craft.

Just last month three Iranian migrants landed on Walmer beach in a dinghy – the latest of several such incidents on the Kent and Sussex coast.

Like the people of Dover and Deal, General Thompson and Mr Smith can clearly see how more must be done urgently to shield our shores from people traffickers and tackle illegal immigration. We must guard our English Channel and catch these criminal gangs of slave-masters on the high seas.

0 comments

Post a comment


01 OCT 2016

Dover & Deal Street Stalls

It was great to meet people in Dover and Deal at my street stalls on Saturday. I listened carefully to what they had to say about how they were being affected by local issues.

People were delighted we had fixed the Dover to Folkestone rail line way ahead of schedule – and that Highways England have caved in to my campaign and are finally ending the 40mph limit on the A20. But residents in both Dover and Deal also urged me to press the Port of Dover to hurry up with finishing their roadworks on the A20 along the seafront. Drivers said they are fed-up with being stuck in gridlock on the way to and from work – and are being forced to drive through Dover town instead.

My greatest fear is that if these roadworks are not finished by Good Friday, we could see a repeat of the traffic nightmare on July 23 where families were stuck in 14-hour queues without food, water or toilet facilities. This is why Highways England and the Port of Dover must work together and make sure the A20 is sorted by Easter at the latest.

0 comments

Post a comment


29 SEP 2016

We need new Dover Patrol to catch traffickers on high seas

Last weekend three migrants in a dinghy landed on the beach at Walmer. They were spotted by a man out walking his dog. Visiting the scene I was left deeply concerned that there will be a tragedy on the English Channel with rougher seas as winter approaches. The three men in a boat turned out to be Iranian and have claimed asylum.

So it is welcome that President Hollande this week said he will dismantle the Calais migrant camp. Yet we've heard it all before. Last time, the French Government made a half-hearted attempt and dismantled a small section. The numbers simply grew ever more quickly to the current 10,000. It is vital to the future of Dover and Calais that the Jungle is dismantled.

It is no good President Hollande seeking to play the blame game on this dreadful situation. He says Britain must "play its part" in managing the migrant crisis. Yet we have already made a strong financial contribution. British taxpayers have paid tens of millions of pounds for walls and fences in Calais.

It's now a greater priority to invest in border security at Dover – to find people who are being trafficked and contraband at our docks. The arrival of yet another dinghy from France highlights the need to invest in security on the English Channel too. Migrants are found landing on the beaches of Dover and Deal in small craft on a monthly, if not weekly basis – who knows how many more arrive undetected?

What is needed is a clear plan on which both the British and French Governments work together to put an end to this shameful situation for once and for all.

The Jungle should be properly dismantled and the people there moved to places of safety far from Calais. President Hollande says this will happen and it is welcome. Yet they need to be sure the people there won't simply sneak back to Calais.

The migrants should be helped back to their home nations. Any asylum claims should be processed and failed asylum seekers should be repatriated.

The people traffickers must be targeted. Make no mistake – these evil modern slavers are at the heart of this crisis. Britain and France must work together to target the trafficking gangs and smash their networks.

We should protect tourists, truckers and trade at Calais. The attacks we have seen with chainsaw wielding, tree throwing, petrol bombing traffickers are totally unacceptable. There is a real danger of a tragedy.

And we must set up a new Dover Patrol on our English Channel. We should increase the budget for the Border Force and ensure we have more than three ships to guard 7,000 miles of coastline.

With strong cooperation and a clear plan, Britain and France together can restore order at the border for good and beat the people traffickers. Ending the evil trade of modern slavery is the most important battle of our times.

0 comments

Post a comment


24 SEP 2016

New Defibrillator for Deal

It was great to meet with campaigners from HeartStart to celebrate the installation of a new defibrillator at Deal Town Hall.

More than £2,000 was raised by HeartStart for the vital piece of lifesaving equipment.

It's taken months of hard work fundraising and campaigning to get this defibrillator. So it's great to see all the effort has paid off and Deal now has this vital piece of lifesaving equipment.

I was glad to help Beverley-Jane Last, a Deal Community First Responder and HeartStart trainer, and her fellow campaigners get the defibrillator for Deal. Thanks to her hard work, and of all the local Community First Responders, more lives will be saved.

0 comments

Post a comment


23 SEP 2016

Dover Harbour Board need to give dates for the new marina build

I was pleased to meet with Richard Mahony, who runs White Cliffs Boat Tours at the North East Quay in the harbour, to hear about how he takes thousands of tourists on trips around the Dover coast every year.

But Richard told me he only has until January 1 to leave before his current dock is filled and replaced with a new cargo terminal. Dover Harbour Board has not offered Richard's business a location at the new marina.

The Western Docks Revival project must deliver for the people of Dover. That means boosting tourism in the town as well as trade through the docks.

Motorists have put up with months of roadworks as part of this project. It is only right that Dover Harbour Board gives a guarantee that the result will be worth the wait. That means setting out a clear timetable on when work on the new marina will start.

They must also guarantee the location of a new station for the Dover Lifeboat before the North East Quay is filled in, and confirm their commitment to connecting the seafront to the town by working with the district council to build a footbridge over the A20.

In order to build Destination Dover, people must be able to easily walk between the new marina, the cinema and restaurants at the St James development and shops in town.

0 comments

Post a comment


23 SEP 2016

Building a future for our young people

When I speak to young people in Dover and Deal, they tell me one of their biggest worries is being able to afford to buy their own home. It was much easier for their parents to get on the property ladder than it is for them. And now many younger people are finding it hard to save while paying rent – or are having to move back home with their mum and dad.

That's why it's so important we build more homes. And why I condemn outfits like the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England who work to stop homes being built in Dover town. Despite the best efforts of this organisation, the number of new builds started in Dover and Deal last year was still double the UK average. The trend continued this year, with 167 new homes started in the first two quarters of 2016.

But buying a home is not the only thing young people in Dover and Deal worry about. We have some of the brightest students in the country. Pupils at Dover Grammar School for Girls recently got better results than Eton. But too many look at their job prospects in Dover and Deal after university and decide they will have to move away – too often to London – in order to get on in life.

Young people in Dover and Deal who work hard should be able to get on and buy their own home in the place they grew up. I want Dover and Deal to be a place where our bright young people want to live, work and raise a family of their own.

But for too long Britain has worked for the jet-set elite of the capital, not the hard-working kids of districts like Dover and Deal. Piling more cash into London at the expense of the towns and regions will just make matters worse. It harms our community when our bright young people are swallowed up by the London vortex.

This cannot go on. We need to fix the way our economy works. And it can be done. I recently visited Euromotive, a brilliant small business in Dover which is looking to expand locally. I was hugely impressed by the highly-skilled metalwork being carried out by apprentices at their site in Poulton Close.

The way we help build more success stories like Euromotive across the country is by helping small businesses in the regions, not big business in London. By investing in places like Dover and Deal, creating good jobs so bright young people can get on. By having more skills education – like plumbing, carpentry and electronics – in schools. By building more homes for young people.

We need to build a Britain where towns like Dover and Deal are leading the way in building our nation's future.

0 comments

Post a comment


22 SEP 2016

New Housing Starts

Young people in Dover and Deal who work hard and get on should be able to buy their own home.

It is great news that the number of new builds started in Dover and Deal in 2015 was 394, almost double the UK average of 222.

The trend continued this year, with 167 new homes started in the first two quarters of 2016.

The growth in housebuilding in Dover and Deal gives young people a greater chance of buying their first home.

This is despite the best efforts of the out-of-touch CPRE to thwart the building of new homes at Farthingloe. The CPRE have worked hard to stop the homes our young people need getting built. Yet we will continue to do all we can to build a Britain that works for our young people.

I want Dover and Deal to be a place where our bright young people want to live, work and raise a family. In order to build a Britain that works for everyone, it is vital the Government invests in places like Dover and Deal. That means creating good jobs and building enough new houses for people to live in.

0 comments

Post a comment


22 SEP 2016

Latest Jobs Figures

There has been a jobs revolution in Dover since 2010. I'm delighted with the latest figures which show big drops in overall unemployment and youth unemployment.

The number of people out of work in Dover and Deal has fallen 43% since 2010 to 1,267. Meanwhile youth unemployment has plunged by a whopping 58% to 270.

I'm passionate about getting people back into work. That's why it's vital we keep creating apprenticeships for our young people and give them the best opportunities in life.

We need to build a Britain that works for the people of Dover and Deal. That means more investment in the towns and regions – not for the benefit of London's jet-set elite.

0 comments

Post a comment


20 SEP 2016

Southeastern Timetable

Several extremely worried parents contacted me over Southeastern's timetable, which showed that from October 1 the 7.42am Dover to Ramsgate service would be cancelled.

Schoolchildren from Dover, Martin Mill, Walmer and Deal rely on this service every day to get to Sir Roger Manwood's or Sandwich Technology School on time.

Parents said the effect of cancelling the service would be disastrous. They were rightly worried about how it could seriously disrupt their child's education. Axing the service would also increase congestion during the busy morning period.

I wrote to Southeastern chief executive David Statham, expressing my serious concern about why the service must be kept.

I later received assurances from Southeastern that the service would indeed be kept.

0 comments

Post a comment


15 SEP 2016

Post-Brexit Britain must work for Dover and Deal

Ask someone in Dover what they want the Government to do now we've voted to leave the EU and they will tell you straight. End uncontrolled EU immigration and stop paying billions to Brussels.

I have long felt that the EU is a toxic, out of touch clique. My only concern about leaving was the risk of the French returning British border controls from Calais to Dover. That's why I have been battling to ensure that we keep a positive relationship with France and make sure the border stays in Calais.

Brexit means Brexit and we need to get on with it. We must deliver on the decision of the British people to leave the European Union and start building a post-Brexit Britain. A Britain that works for towns and regions of our great nation – not just the jet-set elite.

It's clear that the people of Britain voted to leave the EU because people have had enough of uncontrolled EU immigration. They've been promised net migration will be reduced to the tens of thousands. Yet it remains at a sky-high 330,000. As a result of uncontrolled EU immigration, British workers are £450 worse off a year. That's why we must take back control of our borders and end uncontrolled EU immigration.

The British people are also fed up with being dictated to by Europe and seeing their hard-earned cash blown by Brussels bureaucrats. We will be able to invest that money in Britain – but we must not just waste it on big projects that will only benefit the privileged few. It should go on making broadband work properly in places like Lydden and Denton. On vital regional road projects like dualling the A2 to Dover. We should look at securing the future of Manston as well.

For too long Britain has worked for the Philip Greens of this world, not the working-class kids of Dover and Deal. It is the resurgence of the towns and districts which must be the foundation on which post-Brexit Britain is built. A nation where infrastructure investment works for the towns and regions rather than the big cities. A Britain of opportunity and aspiration – where you can succeed in the districts without being forced to move to the capital.

This Government was given the mandate of the masses on June 23 to leave the EU, take back control of our borders and build a Britain that works for everyone. This must start now to give us the security, stability and certainty we need.

Brexit means Brexit and we need to get on with it. The people of Britain voted for us to take back control of our borders and end uncontrolled EU immigration. They voted to end the billions for Brussels. The towns and the districts like Dover & Deal shouted the loudest – that is where the building of the new post-Brexit Britain must begin.

0 comments

Post a comment


15 SEP 2016

Grammar Schools

I am backing the Government's bid to build new grammar schools. Ministers should also look at having more faith schools and more skills education in schools. Parents in Dover, Deal and Kent as a whole see grammar schools and faith-based schools as engines of opportunity and aspiration.

Dover has two brilliant grammar schools. In recent years pupils at Dover Grammar School for Girls have even got better results than students at Eton!

Meanwhile St Edmund's is an excellent faith school. I believe the Government should make it possible for there to be more faith schools in Britain.

It is also vital students are given the best possible life chances by having the choice to learn valuable skills like plumbing, carpentry and electronics in school.

0 comments

Post a comment


15 SEP 2016

Latest Jobs Figures

The latest jobs figures show unemployment has dropped dramatically in the past six years. There has been a jobs revolution in Dover since 2010. I'm delighted with the latest figures which show big drops in overall unemployment and youth unemployment.

The number of people out of work in Dover and Deal has fallen 43% since 2010 to 1,267. Meanwhile youth unemployment has plunged by a whopping 58% to 270.

I'm passionate about getting people back into work. That's why it's vital we keep creating apprenticeships for our young people and give them the best opportunities in life.

We need to build a Britain that works for the people of Dover and Deal. That means more investment in the towns and regions – not for the benefit of London's jet-set elite.

0 comments

Post a comment


15 SEP 2016

Visiting the Calais Jungle

Last week I visited the Calais Jungle. The migrant camp is worse than I've ever seen it. I believe now more strongly than ever that it must be dismantled. I saw a journalist accosted by a migrant, and heard from a Danish woman how she was told to leave the camp because her skirt was too short.

More than 9,000 migrants are believed to be living in the camp, based next to the approach road to the Port of Calais.

One man, from Sudan, told me how he tried to break into Britain every night, only for the French police to return him to the Jungle to try again.

I later attended crunch talks at the Port of Calais alongside Xavier Bertrand, President of the Nor Pas De Calais region, and representatives from Dover Harbour Board, ferry companies and haulage firms. I was shocked to hear first-hand from representatives of haulage companies and the port authorities just how bad things are.

It's important we work with the French to deal with causes of this crisis – not just the symptoms. That means we should spend less time building walls and fences. We need to focus on dismantling the Jungle and helping the people there back to their home nations.

It is vital we protect tourists, truckers and trade from petrol bombing, chainsaw revving, machete wielding traffickers. We've got to target these people traffickers and end their evil trade of modern slavery.

0 comments

Post a comment


12 SEP 2016

Eastry WI Visits Parliament

I was delighted to welcome 28 members of the Eastry WI to Westminster. It was great to chat to them over tea and coffee after a tour of the House of Commons and House of Lords.

Some members were joined by their husbands – who did not want to miss out on seeing inside the historic building.

They told me we need to get on with Brexit and take back control of our borders. They certainly know their stuff!

0 comments

Post a comment


08 SEP 2016

Our trains are back on track. Now it’s time to fix our roads.

The rapid re-opening of the Dover to Folkestone rail line – completed in just nine months – is a remarkable feat of British engineering. It was a joy to once again step on board a London-bound train at Dover Priory on Monday. Commuters have had a tough time since the sea wall collapsed last Christmas. I'm delighted they no longer have the hassle of using rail replacement buses to get to work. Our fight to fix the sea wall just goes to show what can be achieved if people work together and get on with the job.

Dedicated workers from Network Rail and Costain grafted round the clock to get our rail line back on track as soon as possible. As chair of the Sea Wall Repair Task Force, my priority was to make sure there were no bureaucratic hold-ups. And the district council gave permission for 24/7 working. As a result of this teamwork, the repairs to the sea wall were completed three months ahead of schedule.

Highways England should take a close look at how we've restored the rail line – and get on with scrapping the hated 40mph limit on the A20. I have repeatedly called for the speed limit to be made variable, only being enforced when Dover TAP is in place. And last Friday I met with Highways England staff at the Western Heights roundabout to reiterate how frustrating the 40mph limit is for drivers.

Surely it's much harder to rebuild a sea wall than make a speed limit variable? But unlike the swift work of Network Rail, Highways England have spent months dawdling over the A20. Why haven't they got on with the job already and ended this misery for motorists? Drivers are sick and tired of crawling along the A20 while being tailgated by foreign lorries. Unsurprisingly, people are using alternative routes. This means more traffic on the Alkham Valley Road and driving through Capel, creating further gridlock.

I have also urged Highways England to find a way of moving the traffic lights at the Western Heights roundabout back along the A20 and away from Aycliffe. Residents should be able to enjoy a decent night's sleep free from noisy lorries blaring their horns.

The meeting with Highways England was positive, as they finally appear ready to start work. But this is way overdue. Sorting the A20 and the infuriating 40mph limit should be their number one priority.

But we can't stop there. The roads of East Kent have been starved of investment for too long. We must get on with building the M20 lorry park and we need to dual the A2. Meanwhile, Dover Harbour Board need to hurry up and complete their roadworks on Townwall Street and Snargate Street.

Thanks to great teamwork our trains are back on track. Now it's time to fix our roads.

0 comments

Post a comment


05 SEP 2016

Euromotive


It was great to meet with bosses of Dover business Euromotive last week to hear about their plans for expansion.

Euromotive, based in Poulton Close, are looking to bring an extra 40 jobs to Dover once they have secured a new location.

The firm, which builds tipper trucks and converts vans into accessible minibuses and front-line ambulances, takes on local welding and manufacturing apprentices every year.

Euromotive is a brilliant local small business. I was hugely impressed by the high standard of work being carried out. It's so good to hear that Euromotive have taken on local apprentices every year, giving these young people jobs for life.

There has been a jobs revolution in Dover since 2010, with unemployment down 46 per cent and youth unemployment plunging by an incredible 60 per cent.

0 comments

Post a comment


02 SEP 2016

Dover TAP & A20 40mph Speed Limit

We have waited far too long for Highways England to make the 40mph limit on the A20 variable.

I have again urged Highways England hurry up with scrapping the hated limit. It should only be enforced when Dover TAP is in place.

Drivers are sick and tired of crawling along the A20 while being tailgated by foreign lorries.

Unsurprisingly, people are using alternative routes. This means more traffic on the Alkham Valley Road and driving through Capel, creating further gridlock

When Dover TAP is enforced, lorries are stopped at traffic lights at the Western Heights roundabout. This prevents Snargate Street and Townwall Street from becoming gridlocked. These traffic lights should be moved further back along the A20 to stop parked-up lorries disrupting Aycliffe residents' sleep. Highways England must find a way of moving these traffic lights away from the Aycliffe estate.

1 comment

I heard on BBC Radio Kent a couple of weeks ago that the stupid 40mph limit was being replaced by a variable limit for times when congestion was bad. Yet the fixed signs still remain -what's going on??
- Neil Bailey

Post a comment


02 SEP 2016

Goodwin Sands SOS

It was good to meet with representatives from Goodwin Sands SOS to hear their concerns about the proposed dredging by Dover Harbour Board.

Joanna Thompson and Esme Chilton from campaign group Goodwin Sands SOS told me how they fear the dredging may have a negative effect on tidal patterns, endanger the local grey seal population and risk disturbing the final resting place of more than 2,000 known plane and ship wrecks.

It is of the utmost importance that the issues raised by local residents are properly listened to and that Dover Harbour Board engages with the local community.

I will be meeting with the Marine Management Organisation to press the case that local residents must be involved in the decision making process, and I will be presenting Goodwin Sands SOS' petition to Parliament.

0 comments

Post a comment


01 SEP 2016

Time to tackle causes of Calais crisis

For years the Calais migrant camp has grown. The number of people crammed into the so-called "Jungle" has now swelled to a shocking 9,000.

For years hard-working truckers have had their journeys to the Port of Calais disrupted by evil people traffickers. The lengths they will take to stop lorries so migrants can get on board become ever more extreme – from setting fire to trucks, to lobbing petrol bombs, to cutting down trees to block the route and threatening drivers with chainsaws and machetes. The current situation is shameful. Last week I met with truckers in Calais faced with these daily attacks. They agreed that Britain and France must work together to dismantle the Jungle camp.

For years the French and British Governments have tried in vain to tackle the ever-growing problem. They have built fences to keep migrants away from the docks – but the attacks on trucks now just occur further down the road. They have built containers for migrants to stay in – and thousands more have arrived. These attempts at ending the chaos have only targeted the symptoms. It is now time to tackle the cause of this crisis and build a better future for Calais and Dover.

Dismantling the camp will remove this magnet for migrants, conned into heading for Calais by evil people traffickers. These ruthless gangs take thousands of pounds from vulnerable people to get them to Calais. Some are smuggled into Britain to a future in brothels or fruit fields where they will work to pay off huge debts to the people traffickers. It is a form of modern day slavery. We need far greater and tougher action to tackle these traffickers. They must be caught and jailed – put behind bars for at least 20 years and have all of their assets seized. We urgently require a new Dover Patrol to guard the Channel and catch the people traffickers. Let's protect our truckers and the vital trade they carry between Britain and France.

Some French politicians have talked about scrapping the Le Touquet treaty, which establishes British border checks at Calais. But the French know just as well as we do that maintaining these juxtaposed border controls are as much in their interest as ours. Axing the treaty altogether would be a disaster for France and Britain. It would simply force the ferries and tunnel to become border guards - meaning higher ticket prices and longer queues.

And enabling people to apply for UK asylum from France would be a big mistake. It would just make Calais a greater magnet for migrants.


It's time to negotiate a new, stronger deal with France. Let's restore order at the border by dismantling the Calais Jungle camp, smashing the modern day slavery peddled by evil people smugglers and protecting our truckers.

Britain and France must work together to deal with the causes of this crisis once and for all.

0 comments

Post a comment


01 SEP 2016

Farm Smells

The Government needs to finally puts a stop to the foul stench plaguing the district every summer.

Some people were forced to stay inside during the sweltering heat last week because of the disgusting smell coming from some farmers' fields.

It's unacceptable that people are unable to open their windows during the sweltering summer heat because of this awful smell.

This problem could be solved by simply making sure farmers are required to plough their field within 24 hours.

I will be writing to the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs demanding they put this into law.

5 comments

This is something farmers have always done and it is rather unnecessary for you to take up this cause when there are so many other more important things to work on. I cannot support you on this at all and using inflammatory language as in 'demanding' is childish. The smell is awful when we have warm weather, but it lasts a very short amount of time. A law about this is ridiculous and you are wasting the Departments time and your own..
- Peter

People in Deal and Walmer also have suffer the stench for the past month, we would welcome anything to help get rid of the smell quickly and efficiently
- Michael

I live in Walmer and have been forced to stay indoors by the terrible smell. Windows and doors have had to stay closed. The smell was also bad in Deal Town centre. Not a good impression on visitors.
- Doreen

The smell is manure, a time honoured way of replacing nutrients in the soil depleted by growing crops. People have become so far removed from the source of their food sometimes they forget this. Yes it smells but personally I like my food so am prepared to put up with it.
- Pauline

the pong is back and contrary to the impression given in the above account i do not believe the offending smell is the result of farmyard manure but is caused by paper mill waste which if spread at the time it is delivered is not a problem but if left piled up in the field for months to fester will stink when then spread but also at the time of spreading should be masked by a covering material and worked into the soil within a specified time.
- trevor

Post a comment


26 AUG 2016

Great to have our railway line back on track

Christmas Eve was a dark day for our community. On that day the railway sea wall at Dover failed. The line has been closed ever since. We all hoped a running repair could be made. Sadly it turned out that a full rebuild would be necessary. Usually these projects take two years from start to finish. Network Rail and their civil engineers Costain worked out how they could do it in a year. Incredibly the line is planned to reopen on 5thSeptember. The rebuild will have taken just nine months.

The failure of the sea wall caused real problems for everyone. Our area has been seeing a sharp increase in commuting to work in recent years. This has been a real boost to our local economy. The break in the line caused made in hard for people to get to work and set back the great change we have been seeing. The beach by the Shakespeare Cliff was washed away in the big December storms. This meant that the foundations of the sea wall were exposed. They were undermined and that caused the failure of the sea wall.

It had been hoped that a running repair could be made. Unfortunately the Victorian timber viaduct the rails originally ran on had rotted away. An entirely new viaduct had to be built on massive piles driven deep into the chalk bedrock. The new viaduct will be protected by rock armour rather than a traditional sea wall. It has been a very big job and cost over £40 million.

Everyone thought the rebuild would take to the end of the year. Yet I quietly hoped it could be quicker than that. My first priority was to make sure there were no bureaucratic hold ups. The Sea Wall Repair Task Force I chaired worked hard to clear all obstacles. The District Council gave permission for 24/7 working. This teamwork made sure repairs were taken forward as quickly as possible and that any obstacles were overcome right away. I went through the project timetable in detail with Network Rail and Costain, looking to see what glitches might arise. Finally we were incredibly lucky with the weather and the last concrete for piling came to the site the week before the traffic chaos we suffered a month ago. All this meant that the rebuild has taken the shortest possible time.

I am incredibly proud of this achievement. I know how Commuters have suffered and the line reopening so quickly will make an incredible difference to their daily lives. We will always have challenges to overcome. Yet it's how we deal with the challenges and overcome them that matters most. More is happening in Dover & Deal now than for many decades. I am so optimistic about the change we can make together. There is a real sense of momentum – let's keep it up!

0 comments

Post a comment


18 AUG 2016

Stronger, safer borders will boost our economy and international trade

The problems we have suffered with gridlock in East Kent and Dover is damaging to the national economies of both Britain and France. Last year's Summer of disruption in Kent cost the UK economy £1 Billion. Yet the activities of people-traffickers and continued existence of the Jungle at Calais also takes a heavy toll on the economies of both nations. The regular problems at the border underline the need to see new action to promote international trade through borders that are safe and secure.

Recent events make it increasingly clear more needs to be done to counter people-trafficking, protect lorries travelling across the English Channel and the Calais Jungle needs to be cleared. The Government should seek a new agreement with France to tackle the problems, while boosting international trade across the English Channel.

Following a spate of attacks at Calais, it's urgent to ensure that lorries have greater protection at Calais. We need to stop people breaking into Britain, and fitting lorries with anti people-trafficking devices would help do that. The Driver Buddy detection device invented by local entrepreneurs is a great example of the sort of system that will detect people hiding in the backs of lorries. The Government should be doing more to incentivise the adoption of on board smuggling detection devices like the Driver Buddy.

There needs to be a greater focus on countering the people traffickers. Our border is in Calais. So our border officers can catch people being smuggled in lorries at the UK's Calais controls. This they do with much success. The people they catch are handed over to the French Police. Unfortunately the French Police simply release them to have another go. This has got to change. It's important we work with France to ensure people-traffickers and people being trafficked are detained in France rather than released to have another go.

The Calais Jungle is a magnet for people-traffickers who exploit the most vulnerable. The French Police are also concerned that it is a magnet for terrorists too. The time has come for the Jungle to be cleared. This needs to be a priority for Britain and France. This way we can counter the people-traffickers and better protect the most vulnerable people who are in the Jungle and similar camps in Northern France

It's a big worry that lorries bound for Britain have been subjected to attacks at Calais. There needs to be more protection for lorry drivers. Lorries and our international trade need to be able to pass safely through the border without let or hindrance.

We are leaving the EU. Yet our closest trading partner will always be France. It's in the interest of Calais and Dover, France and Britain that the Jungle is cleared and the people-traffickers are defeated. That's why there needs to be a strong agreement with France that will have stronger borders and the promotion of international trade at its heart.

0 comments

Post a comment


18 AUG 2016

Latest Employment Figures

I am delighted by the drop in unemployment and youth unemployment in our area.

The latest jobs figures that show there has been a 46% fall in unemployment in the Dover and Deal since 2010. There are now only 1,226 people claiming out of work benefits in our area. Youth unemployment is now down nearly 60% to 225.

These figures show a steady decline in unemployment in Dover and Deal, which is great news as we strive to build a Britain that works for everyone.

I will continue to fight for hard working people and do all I can to see unemployment continue to fall as we leave the EU and write the next chapter of our island story.

0 comments

Post a comment


11 AUG 2016

A New Dover Patrol will beef up our border security

Security in the English Channel is not strong enough and needs to improve. There is a rising threat from people-trafficking by yachts and small boats. Meanwhile there are concerns that cross Channel transport should have increased protection to counter the rising terrorist threat.

There is no doubt that the cross Channel people-trafficking situation is becoming increasingly serious. Just last week, five Iranians were trafficked to Winchelsea in Sussex. Last year a man was running a people trafficking operation from France to Kingsdown near Deal. It's increasingly clear that the case of the traffickers caught red handed transporting Albanians to Dymchurch is just the tip of a very large iceberg.

The National Crime Agency is warning of a growing small craft people-trafficking problem and has discovered an extensive people-trafficking trade being run via 200 social media sites. Last week the Home Affairs Select Committee reported that the increased security at the main Channel Ports has caused trafficking gangs to seek out alternative trafficking routes. Border Force's ability to counter this problem has been condemned in a damning report by their independent inspector. But then it's hard to protect the UK coastline when you have just three ships. We need urgently to beef up our defences.

A century ago the Dover Patrol kept the White Cliffs of Dover and the English Channel safe in time of war. Now we need to declare war on the cross Channel people traffickers with a New Dover Patrol. We need more ships on patrol in the English Channel. The Government should recall Royal Naval units patrolling the borders of Mediterranean nations - who have more border control vessels than we do - to keep the English Channel safe and secure.

France takes the threat of attacks on ferries and cross Channel shipping very seriously. So should we. It is now urgent for the Government to review its threat assessment and consider joining France in having armed guards accompany ferries – as well as review security arrangements in the Channel Tunnel.

Dover & Deal has a long and proud history of association with the Royal Marines. The New Dover Patrol should be led by the Marines as they have great expertise in countering people-trafficking and attacks on shipping around the World. The Marines have the unique set of skills required to do this job and we now need to see their skills deployed at home.

The strengthening of security between Dover and Calais has led to a rise in people-trafficking by small craft. We must now take control and stop the people-traffickers. We cannot be complacent about the threat from ISIL/Daesh and terrorism. We should join France in having armed guards accompany ferries as well as ensure the Channel Tunnel is as secure as we can make it. Finally we need to increase the Budget for Border Force and celebrate the incredible work our border officers do in working so hard to keep us all safe and secure.

0 comments

Post a comment


04 AUG 2016

Brexit Britain succeeds from Dover

Last week's traffic chaos highlighted the decades of under investment in the roads and transport infrastructure of East Kent. Yet it also highlighted that improvements are needed in how border controls are managed too.

It's clear we need more investment on our roads and port infrastructure. It would cost less than £500 million to have motorways to Dover, upgrade port infrastructure and dig a tunnel. Put this alongside the £1 Billion cost of last year's disruption and the case is clear. Add to that the gridlock Dover suffers all the time and the fiasco of families going on holiday suffering 14 hour plus tailbacks last week and it's obvious this is a priority. Take into account the likelihood that this will all keep happening as port traffic continues to have double digit annual growth and it's clear this is a necessity.

So what is the response on the Department for Transport? Their proposal is Operation Perch. This would institutionalise last week's fiasco with added toilet facilities. Dover would be cut off and local ambulances and emergency services would be hampered. It is a bad plan and risks lives. What the Department for Transport should be doing is to use Operation Stack on the M20 for lorries as that is tried and tested. The Dover TAP system is not suitable for a form of Operation Stack. The TAP system is intended to keep gridlock out of Dover and should continue to be used for that. The A20 is simply not fit for purpose for a permanent queuing system. Operation Perch is not the answer.

France's response to the terror atrocities she has suffered has been to declare a state of emergency. French Border checks have been stepped up. However there are simply not enough French border officers to go round. This left France's border officials overstretched. So booths went unmanned, long queues built up.

We already have close co-operation and information sharing with France. There is a strong case for Britain and France to deepen our joint border controls and security co-operation. So when French border officers are thin on the ground at Dover, British border officers should be able to help. Next week, when there is a rush back from Calais, French border officers should be able to help British border officers when queues build up. It is in the interest of everyone that tourists and truckers are sped through the ports to their destinations – particularly Calais and Dover.

Those lorries travelling through the port are the lifeblood of our international trade. Traffic fiascos at Dover don't just hurt the town – they hurt the national economy. This is why our roads, infrastructure and border security need greater investment to cope with the annual increases in port traffic.

1 comment

I would also like to see Dover/Folkestone/Deal/Sandwich also get a fair crack of the whip with regard to HS rail, but its all focused on Canterbury isnt it! And where is the station car park so long promised - I dont commute from Dover as I cannot guarantee that I can get to the station and park up, and even when I do get a train, I am on the 6 coach HS overcrowded stopper! (Ebbsfleet). Utter joke the transport infrastructure in SE Kent, the service we are given, and the lack of influence it seems our local representatives have compared to other parts of Kent - always has been; cant see it changing either, and that is why Dover is dying.
- Steve Coleman

Post a comment


28 JUL 2016

Latest Employment Figures

I am delighted to see unemployment and youth unemployment continue to fall. The latest jobs statistics that show the number claiming the main unemployment benefit has fallen 44% in Dover and Deal since 2010 to 1,177. Youth unemployment is now down 60% to 235.

Today's employment figures show that because of the economic decisions we have taken over the past six years, the fundamentals of our economy are strong and will continue to be strong as we negotiate our departure from the European Union.

There has been a steady decline in unemployment in Dover and Deal and I am doing all that I can to make sure this trend continues in our corner of Kent.

0 comments

Post a comment


28 JUL 2016

My plan for investment to restore order at the border

Once again Dover was plunged into traffic chaos over the weekend as 14-hour queues built up at the port. The delays were caused by French border officials. Our Government was warned this situation was developing. It should have been prepared. But the Government was caught sleeping at the wheel. This must change.

It's always the same story. Every year we have a nightmare on roads, whether it's caused by French workers striking, bad weather or even migrants storming the Port of Calais. Every year the people of Dover suffer and feel trapped. We can't carry on like this. It's wrong for people to be stuck for 14 hours in the sweltering heat. Nor can be stand by while the lifeblood is sucked out of Dover. We need a plan to restore order at the border.

We must start by ridding Dover of gridlock. We can no longer tolerate tailbacks in the town. Port traffic needs to be moved into a tunnel. This would mean the people of Dover would be able to move around. While the Dover town centre could once again be connected with its stunning seafront. Dover town would be transformed - the pride of the White Cliffs and a Jewel in the crown of the nation.

Road capacity has to increase. Dover is the busiest ferry port in the World. Incredibly the A2 into Dover from the North is just a single track road. Meanwhile the M20 peters out at Folkestone and turns into an A road. We need full motorways, able to handle port traffic at all times.

After last year's annual Kent traffic crisis, the Government finally agreed to build a car and lorry park. It's still on the drawing board. They need to stop dithering and get on with it. We need the park to get traffic off the roads when disaster strikes. That way the people of Kent will be able to go about their business while weary travellers can get food, water and go to the toilet.

Finally it's time we had major investment in the port and town of Dover. The British Government has handed over tens of millions of pounds to Calais to help bolster their borders. Now we need investment at home. The port must be able to hold more traffic and do security checks more efficiently. The Government must help connect our town to our harbour. Yet investment cannot stop at the seafront. It must be used to transform our town centre and give us the foundations upon which to build something great. To create Destination Dover. Our town has a proud history. Now it it's time to build its future.

To restore order at the border: Dig a tunnel. Fix our roads. Bust the gridlock. And make Dover the destination it deserves to be.

0 comments

Post a comment


24 JUL 2016

Dover Patrol Memorial

I was proud to lay a wreath on behalf of the people of Dover to acknowledge the great sacrifice members of the Dover Patrol made to keep Britain safe during the First World War at the Dover Patrol Memorial on Sunday.

Around 2,000 members of the Dover Patrol lost their lives during the First World War.

It is important that we remember everyone who died. We will never forget the sacrifices they made for our country.

0 comments

Post a comment


22 JUL 2016

Niftie's Social Supermarket

I am pleased to see such a great social enterprise like Nifties set up in Dover. Niftie's is a new social supermarket in Dover giving local people access to essential food items, with prices ranging from 10p to 75p.

The social supermarket, founded by local resident Nathaniel Richards is looking to tackle food poverty in the area by purchasing reduced products, such as short-dated or damaged food which is still perfectly edible and selling it on at a reduced price. Nathaniel is providing a great service to local people in need.

Almost 12 million tonnes of food is wasted in Britain each year, and a lot of this is perfectly good food supermarkets have thrown away. It is a fantastic idea to repurpose this food to help tackle food poverty.

0 comments

Post a comment


22 JUL 2016

Kent Miners Festival

It was really good to catch up with the new chairs of the Kent Miners Festival to take a look around their great heritage centre, and to hear about their plans for upcoming events.

They do really important work making sure that our rich local mining history is kept alive for future generations. The centre was opened in March 2013, and it is open on Tuesday's 10am to 2pm, so that everyone can go and learn about an important part of local history.

Do pop along the the centre this summer to check out the exhibition and show your support.

0 comments

Post a comment


22 JUL 2016

Having our border in Calais works for Britain AND France

Our community of Dover and Deal is on the front line. Our history is steeped in the safety and security of the nation. Once again the need for that security has been in the spotlight this week. In the House of Commons I voted to ensure we renew our nuclear deterrent. The Trident system will mean we maintain continuous deterrence at sea. This is a potent reminder to our enemies that there is still a Great in Britain and that we take our security very seriously. The vote for Trident was carried by a huge majority – it was only opposed by the Scots and a few hard left Labour MPs.

The terrorist attack in Nice shocked us all. Once again we stand with France in the face of a horrific atrocity. And stand with France we must. Whether we are inside or outside the European Union. We have a long history of working closely together. The Entente Cordial and deep bonds of amity have tied our two nations together for over a century. We work closely together to tackle terrorism and combat the evil of human trafficking. We have long worked together to keep our borders safe and secure too. The Le Touquet treaty is an important part of those bonds and our shared security. These are points I made to the Home Secretary in the House of Commons this week. The new Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, was swift to make the point that National Security is not the province of the EU and that we will continue to work bilaterally with France for our shared security.

During the EU Referendum campaign there was much concern that France might axe the Le Touquet Treaty. That our border might move back from Calais to Dover. Yet events have shown that this treaty and our close co-operation works for both our countries. This is the case I am making to our French counterparts. In addition I plan to visit the authorities of the Nord Pas de Calais Region to discuss the future and how our partnership with Northern France may be deepened.

The case I will make is that we should not simply keep our border in Calais. We should do more to deepen our trading links too. The economies of Kent and Northern France are closely linked. It's not just about borders and transport. We have much linked industry and commerce. As we leave the EU we should not give up on that. If anything we should have more of it

The future of our relationship with France should not simply be one where we search for security and to keep our border in Calais. We should also be on the front foot seeking out opportunities for more jobs and money where we can share more trade and greater prosperity.

0 comments

Post a comment


14 JUL 2016

Learning about cancer prevention from Cancer Research UK

It was incredible to hear how many cases of cancer could be prevented by better lifestyle choices from Cancer Research UK. We have a worrying level of obesity in the Dover area, and that, combined with people smoking and not taking regular exercise is contributing to more people developing the disease.

More than four in ten cancer cases in the UK could be prevented each year, with smoking and obesity being the biggest avoidable causes of the disease.

In the local area covered by the South Kent Coast CCG, around 1,320 people a year are diagnosed with cancer. Unfortunately, around 620 people a year die from the disease.

Local obesity is a big concern, with 60% of people in the South East currently overweight or obese. In the Dover area, 64% of adults and 32% of children in year 6 are overweight or obese. Obesity is the single biggest preventable cause of cancer.

Over a quarter of cancer deaths are caused by smoking, with smoking costing the Dover area an estimated £31.4 million a year.

While there are no guarantees with cancer, it is clear from the numbers that by encouraging people to live healthier lifestyles, we can help prevent cancer. Thinking about what we can all do to improve our lifestyles really matters.

0 comments

Post a comment


14 JUL 2016

The Prime Minister, Theresa May, has a bold vision of a Britain that works for everyone

The amazing thing about our democracy is how robust it is. It is just three weeks since the EU Referendum. Since then we have seen markets going into free fall threatening an economic crisis. That swiftly followed by a political crisis as the Prime Minister resigned. Next the Labour leader was effectively rejected by his party's MPs. Then at the height of the storm, a ray of sunlight shines through the clouds with a new Prime Minister to restore order.

Not just to restore order. Our new Prime Minister Theresa May has clear plan to implement the referendum and take us out of the EU. She has a powerful vision for a Britain that works for everyone. Most refreshing of all is that we will be able properly to control immigration and our borders. In the past decade or more there has been too much change, too fast. Too many people came to this country too quickly. There has been anger at how this has pushed wages down. People feel strongly that the balance was all wrong. We need to see more done to help people get off benefits and into work. To ensure there is greater access to skills so everyone can have the chance to aspire, work hard and get on in a level playing field. Not a playing field where big business can do what they like. A playing field where business is expected to invest in their staff and develop people's careers. I hope that we will now see more action to stop welfare tourism, health tourism and fairer housing lists in the years to come. I know how deeply it is felt that people who have contributed and paid into the system should be prioritised by our public services.

Theresa May has set out a bold vision of a country that works for everyone. For too long there has been too much emphasis on big business. Too much emphasis on the values of the metropolitan elite. And too much emphasis on the vortex that is London. The city that sucks everything in and from which little seems to emerge to benefit the rest of us. We now have an opportunity to build a Britain where towns like Dover and Deal can be more in focus. Our towns and villages reinvigorated and an emphasis on small business is a huge opportunity. Let's not forget that small businesses have been the job creation engines of Britain as big businesses have moved jobs abroad over the past decade.

We can have real change and a rebalancing of our nation. As we start to write the next chapter in our island story, building a country that works for everyone must be our key priority. It is an incredible opportunity for our area to be stronger and dynamic in the years to come.

0 comments

Post a comment


10 JUL 2016

HM Royal Marines Memorial Concert

I was proud to be on Walmer Green again to honour the lives of the Royal Marines who lost their lives in the IRA bomb at the Royal Marines School of Music in 1989 at their memorial concert.

We will never forget the 11 marine musicians who died, and the 11 who were injured on that terrible day in 1989. It is right that so many people gather on Walmer Green each summer in their memory.

The Corps of Drums of the Band of HM Royal Marines never disappoint. I really enjoyed their impressive performance.

0 comments

Post a comment


09 JUL 2016

Betteshanger Sustainable Parks at the Kent County Show

It was good to see Betteshanger Sustainable Parks at the Kent County Show. They were generating bike-electricity, promoting sustainable energy and the importance of riding and walking.

Betteshanger Sustainable Parks is a great place to ride and walk. The development there is well under way. They put on a great demonstration of how clean, sustainable electricity could be generated from bicycles. It was fantastic to see everyone getting stuck in and having a go.

0 comments

Post a comment


07 JUL 2016

Rajmahal Tandoori in the Tiffin Cup

I am delighted that the Rajmahal Tandoori was awarded a highly commended in the Tiffin Cup.

The Tiffin Cup is Parliament's award for the best South Asian restaurant in Britain. The competition raises money for charity every year; this year money is being raised for World Vision and WaterAid.

Raj and his team have been justly recognised for all of their hard work running a fantastic restaurant at the heart of our community

0 comments

Post a comment


07 JUL 2016

Rolling up my sleeves to stability, security and strong borders

The last week has seen upheaval in the future of Britain. The nation has voted to leave the European Union. The Prime Minister has resigned and the Conservative Party has started choosing a new leader. The Labour Party has entered into a leadership crisis so severe that it could split.

So these are interesting times. We need to make the most of the opportunities of leaving the European Union. This means we need to look at the European Laws that we want to throw overboard. We need to think how we can make our country leaner, more competitive, less highly regulated and more successful. Most of all we can now put a stop to free movement and control our borders. We alone will decide who may and may not enter Britain.

Yet there are also great risks. It's going to be important that we continue to attract investment into the UK. We must make sure there is no period of uncertainty. A clear direction is needed as quickly as possible so that businesses can plan ahead and we can all have confidence in our new journey and our economic future.

There are two ways we could leave the EU. One is with a deal on the single market. The other is we simply go it alone with a friendly wave. Already the nature of the discussion is taking shape. We cannot have free movement. The Europeans could agree to that if we join the single market for trade in goods only. Yet our national advantage is in services. So we would want a single market deal for goods and services without free movement. If no deal can be struck that we can leave and tariffs can be put in place which are set under a World Customs Treaty. Either way we need to be swift about it and settle the position so that businesses and investors can have certainty.

What does this mean for our community? The French may try to return the border to Dover. There are noises on this. However I will always fight to ensure we have a strong Channel Shield in place to keep our border strong. In my discussions with French counterparts, I always underline that the border in Calais is in their interests as much as our own.

The bigger change would be if we left the single market altogether. We would be back to having customs controls in Dover. It would be a challenge space wise to do this as so much trade comes through the port. Customs clearance and freight forwarding would reappear as enterprises although traffic through the port could reduce.

Great changes are taking place. In the next year or so it will come clear on what terms we will leave the European Union. A new chapter will be written in our nation's story.

1 comment

Food for thought here Charlie. An excellent discussion of our future outside the EU. Like you I favour us continuing to work with the EU, but also our commonwealth partners such as New Zealand and Australia. We need to maintain close trade links with the EU and there needs to be a discussion about borders; we need to support those migrants from war torn zones who genuinely want to be a part of our Nation, whilst weeding out those who are not genuine migrants/ refugees/ asylum seekers and are out to cause terror. We also need to look at how we support lone children coming into Britain as they have seen terrible sights in Syria and need to be housed with supportive foster parents and continue their Education so that they can rebuild their lives The work of the UK Borders Agency and Customs needs support and recognition.
- Tracy Jane Wilton

Post a comment


01 JUL 2016

Buckland Hospital's First Birthday

It was a very proud moment for me to be asked to cut the cake to celebrate Buckland Hospital's first birthday. It seems like just yesterday I was being shown around the new hospital when it opened to patients last June.

Everyone said that we'd never get a new Hospital in Dover, but we all pulled together and now we have a brand new, state of the art hospital in the heart of our community. The hospital now provides specialised, local services that save people thousands of journeys to Ashford and Margate.

There are now plans to build a new health and social care hub on the site of the old hospital, which will help provide even more much needed care in our community. I will continue to campaign for a fairer share of healthcare for Dover and Deal.

0 comments

Post a comment


01 JUL 2016

Gomez Ltd

I received a positive message on the future of Britain's food imports from Gomez Ltd, a local fruit and vegetable packing firm. By investing in innovative new technology and equipment to boost production, they are well prepared for the years ahead.

Touring the plant, I saw where local workers were packing fruits and vegetables such as mixed peppers and summer peaches for distribution. The investment

in new and innovative produce sorting and packaging equipment is now boosting production. Not only does careful investment help provide local jobs, it also helps feed our nation.

As well as food packaging, Gomez also recycle produce that is not suitable for packaging, for example if it is misshapen, into oven ready products to cut down on food waste. They also handle several products exclusively grown by their growers for Tesco stores up and down the country, including Samphire which is sourced from local growers when it is in season.

0 comments

Post a comment


01 JUL 2016

Dover Food Bank Tesco Community Food Drive

Many congratulations to the volunteers at Dover Food Bank for collecting food supplies for people in need at their most recent Tesco community food drive.

The generosity of people has been incredible. I was deeply impressed they managed to collect 672 kilos of food just in one day. Some shoppers even donated entire trollies full of dried and canned goods to be redistributed among the community.

Tesco have pledged to top up 20% of the total collected at each food drive with a cash donation.

0 comments

Post a comment


30 JUN 2016

Britain will prosper in the years to come

What a week it's been. On Thursday we voted to leave the European Union. On Friday the Prime Minister resigned. On Monday nearly 50 Labour Shadow Ministers resigned. We now need to regroup and move forward.

The referendum turnout was huge. The result was close, but clear. We are leaving the European Union. So I will roll up my sleeves and do my bit to make it work. There are three key priorities for our community: to protect jobs, secure trade and ensure our borders remain safe and secure.

Make no mistake, since 2010 we have come a long way together. Our community is the closest to mainland Europe. Dover is the gateway and the guardian of the Kingdom. We successfully fought to stop our port being sold off to the French or whoever. We have worked hard to secure over £100m of investment to our area. Unemployment has near halved. I will do all I can to see we continue to keep up the momentum.

Our area is currently undergoing great renewal and I am passionate that it should continue. The repair of the railway later this year will give us all a real boost. Especially is if it comes sooner than Christmas. As you can imagine I am doing everything possible to urge the quickening of these works so that Dover & Deal are able to get back on track as fast as possible.

Over £100 Billion of trade rumbles through Dover each year. Trade travelling through the port has been growing in double digit figures every year. This trade is the economic lifeblood of our nation. Dover is the largest passenger ferry port in in the World. This is not going to change. Europe will continue to be our major trading partner. It's important that we continue to have cordial relations with European nations and with France, just across the water. I will work tirelessly to promote trade and investment.

Border security is also important. The Mayor of Calais will continue to make noises, as she always has. Yet we have increased the number of border officers since 2010. We have stepped up our patrols at sea. A crack team of sniffer dogs finds people hiding in lorries. Drones are even now taking to the air to aid the strength of our borders. I will do all I can to ensure that our border remains safe and secure.

So it's been an incredible week. There has been nothing like it for over 70 years. Yet our path is clear. We must stick to our long term economic plan which has delivered jobs and money for our nation. We will continue to trade with Europe yet seek new markets across the rest of the World. We will maintain the protection of our borders. We will not only endure. We will prosper in the years to come.

0 comments

Post a comment


26 JUN 2016

Nonington Dolphins

The Nonington Dolphins have made such a great contribution to life in the village, so it was great to come together to celebrate their 20th birthday with a garden party at their hall in Nonington. It is such an impressive milestone.

The event was attended by both current and past members of the youth group and their families.

Thank you to Pauline Catterall and her team for putting together such a great afternoon for all the family.

0 comments

Post a comment


25 JUN 2016

Temple Ewell School Fete

At Temple Ewell School fete, students put on an Olympic-style opening ceremony flying the flag for different nations. There were plenty of stalls, a raffle, tombola, homemade cakes and a coconut shy.

Thank you to everyone who put so much time and effort into putting on a wonderful afternoon for all.

0 comments

Post a comment


23 JUN 2016

Employment Figures

The latest employment figures that show the number of jobseekers in Dover and Deal has fallen 45% since May 2010.

There are now 1,219 people claiming out of work benefits in the constituency, 37 less than in April 2016. Youth unemployment is also down 57% from May 2010 to 255 jobseekers.

This latest set of jobs figures make it clear that our long term economic plan is working.

It is important that we help more people into work. It is great to see that youth unemployment has more than halved since 2010. A steady job and a decent wage packet is important in making sure our young people get the best start in life.

0 comments

Post a comment


18 JUN 2016

Armed Forces Day

On Saturday I joined veterans in Pencester Gardens to celebrate Armed Forces Day. The day included exhibitions highlighting the work of the armed forces, displays of military vehicles, living history re-enactments, and music from the bandstand.

We should always celebrate the important work our armed forces do. It was a lovely afternoon out for all of the family. Thank you to the Hellfire Corner Association for putting on such a great event.

The new Dover branch of the Royal British Legion is such a success. They are already incredibly active, and growing quickly.

It is important that we give our armed forces and veterans past and present the support and acknowledgment that they are all heroes and deserve our thanks and respect for all of the sacrifices they have made to secure the future of our nation.

0 comments

Post a comment


17 JUN 2016

Visiting the Clarendon Hotel

There are some great businesses who have found a home at The Clarendon Hotel. The hotel offers a place to stay the night after a day by the sea, together with a choice of fine dining and an incredible bar chock full of craft beers. I am so proud of the business innovation we have in Deal and the Clarendon brings together so many great offerings that I left wondering if I'd walked onto the set of Master Chef!

I was shown around the hotel's newly refurbished rooms and suites, as well as their impressive sea view by Carolyn Barrow, the general manager, as well as the bars, cafes and restaurants that have taken up residence on the ground floor.

The Burger Brothers franchise, which also runs pop-ups in Dover and Canterbury are based at The Clarendon. Owner Karl Wozny and his team serve up all American classics in the restaurant and fine craft beers, including and local Time & Tide brews in The Tap Room bar.

Dine India is also located at the hotel. Proprietor Syed Hayder has brought tandoori fusion to the town, combining takeaway and restaurant favourites with ancient Moghul dishes.

I had a great pint of Time & Tide brewed just up the road in North Deal at The Tap Room. If you have not been yet, be sure to go along and enjoy a great evening out.

0 comments

Post a comment


17 JUN 2016

Dover Counseling Centre

The Dover Counselling Centre does amazing work supporting people in distress up and down the land. I was deeply concerned to hear that developers working on the St James' Development are causing problems.

Cracks are appearing in the walls and above the doors of the listed building they operate from. Counsellors report that pictures are falling from the walls and dust falls from ceilings as deep piling works rock the building.

The centre, which was set up in the wake of the Zeebruge ferry disaster now receives an average of 370 calls a week from all over the country and receives around 7,000 referrals a year.

It is important that people have a calm place to come and seek solace and refuge. Clearly that is not going to happen when the building is rocking and pictures are falling off the walls.

I have written to Legal and General, Kier Group and Dover District Council to press for a solution that will restore a tranquility where counselling can be carried out in a calm atmosphere.

0 comments

Post a comment


16 JUN 2016

Make sure you vote and have your say in next week's EU Referendum

The European Referendum will take place next week on June 23rd. It will be an historic event and currently looks set to be a very close result. The last time we had a vote was some four decades ago. Since then the EU has changed a lot. Back then we joined the Common Market - now we are members of the European Union. So it is right that we should all decide whether we want to Remain in the EU or Leave.

Ahead of the referendum I organised public meetings in Dover and Deal. There were speakers for the Remain and Leave sides. Hundreds of local people came and asked searching questions. In Deal people asked about the risks to jobs and investment. They raised their concerns about how the political instability would be managed if we voted to Leave. Immigration and border control worried many, as did human rights rulings. People were angry about tax dodging by large international businesses and whether people from Turkey might be allowed to come to Britain.

In Dover people were concerned about border security and small boats coming across. They wanted to see our border stay in Calais. There was a feeling that every party leader was for Remain which seemed at odds with the closeness of the likely result. Some asked what does Dover get from the EU while others highlighted the feeling that the EU is an elite grouping lacking democratic control. If we did Remain in the EU people thought that the EU had to reform - to become more democratic than it currently is.

Now, I have always been highly sceptical of the European Project. Yet I worry about the impact on jobs and money from the inevitable disruption of we vote to leave. It's also very important we see our border remain in Calais. The French on both the left and right sides have been pretty clear that if we vote to Leave they will return our border to Dover. Were that to happen it would be very bad for our area. We all remember how things were before the 2003 Treaty that brought in juxtaposed controls.

In this referendum I have the same vote as everyone else. Each of us must make our own decision. To decide what is best for us, our family and for Britain. We must think of the future we wish to make and the kind of country we want to hand over to our children and grandchildren.

I hope these debates have been be useful for everyone to get a better understanding of the issues and hear what both sides have to say. Above all do make sure you vote on June 23rd and have your say on our nation's future.

0 comments

Post a comment


12 JUN 2016

Dover & Walmer Lifeboats

I really enjoyed the opportunity to be able to see first had some of the truly great work the Dover & Walmer lifeboats do helping keep people safe along our coast.

I want to thank all of the volunteers who give their time to provide this vital service. Recently their crew rescued 30 children from the foot of the White Cliffs of Dover.

It is important that we are all diligent in the water and on our beaches. The RLNI do wonderful work, but in many of the rescues they carry out each year could be easily prevented.

0 comments

Post a comment


10 JUN 2016

Roads to success in Dover & Deal

Last Summer, Kent was in complete gridlock due to the chaos in France. Operation Stack stretched through the county. Goods on board lorries were lost. The UK economy lost £1 Billion. Kent MPs have been campaigning for a lasting solution to the Operation Stack problem. We collectively demanded action from Ministers. As a result, the Government agreed to invest £250 million in lorry parks to deal with this long standing problem.

These events do not seem to have been noticed by the House of Commons Transport Select Committee. Last week the Labour Chaired Committee published a report saying the whole thing has been rushed. After all, we've only been campaigning on this for a decade. Thankfully Ministers have not been deflected by this poor piece of work.

Kent's MPs have been working hard to deal with the long standing transport problems we suffer from. The Government looks set to take the M20 lorry parks forward and the park will hopefully move forward to the next stage soon. The next hurdle is to make sure the TAP system stays in place. The M20 lorry parks are intended to deal with the problem of traffic on the M20. The TAP system deals with the separate problem of gridlock in Dover. I am working hard with Dover District Council to ensure that the Department for Transport grasps this.

We also need to make the TAP system a variable speed limit system. At the moment it operates as a speed trap that is there more for revenue raising than traffic safety. Kent Police make lots of money, yet it does nothing to stop accidents as all the foreign lorries simply ignore the cameras. I am meeting the Roads Minster this week to press the case for the TAP system to be given a variable speed limit. The 40mph speed limit should only apply when the TAP system is operational.

The M20 with lorry parks and an A20 with an effective TAP system will make an incredible difference. Yet that is not the whole story. We still need to get the A2 dualled. This depends on the Lower Thames Crossing. More precisely what the Lower Thames Crossing is for. Some in the DfT see it as a form of M25 relief road. That would not be the most effective use of the proposed crossing. A better use would be for the crossing to be a major route from the Channel Ports to the East and North East of England. For that the A2 will need to be dualled and that is the case I am making.

In the next five years our long standing transport woes could be brought to an end. M20 lorry parks, a sensible TAP system, the Lower Thames Crossing and a dualled A2 would make an incredible difference to the quality of life and transport in Dover & Deal.

3 comments

The 40mph speed limit on the A20 frightens me so much that I have stopped using it. Lorries don't stick to the speed limit and I fear for the safety of my children in the back of my car. Please get rid of it.
- Gemma Forbes

The speed limit on the A20 is crazy. Foreign lorries ignore it which puts local people who stick to the limit at risk. Having a lorry zooming along at 70mph in the fog and hitting someone driving at 40mph is an accident waiting to happen.
- Sarah Mapps

I travel the A20 twice weekly doing 40mph and have had lorries flashing me as I am not going as fast as the driver wanted. They then go into the outside lane and proceed to break the speed limit. There should be a holding bay in Dover Port to cover the Ferries and Channel Tunnel, this is to catch all the foreign vehicles that have committed an offence by not paying tolls and fines through out the country. Once they reach the boarders then they should pay their dues like the rest of us. The British seem to be the ones paying the foreign fines as well as our own.
- Maggie Carter

Post a comment


06 JUN 2016

EU Referendum Debates

It was great to see such a big turn out for the EU referendum debates I held in Dover and Deal to help local people decide which way they are going to vote in the upcoming referendum.

Over 100 people attended the debates and took the opportunity to ask questions of both the campaign to leave and the campaign to remain.

I felt that it was important to make sure my constituents had the opportunity to ask questions of both campaigns and to hear both sides of the argument.

Everyone has one vote in referendum, and every vote counts.

0 comments

Post a comment


27 MAY 2016

Amy Temple Almshouses

I really enjoyed the opportunity to hear stories about how St Margaret's used to be from Mrs Wilcox, who will be 100 in November and is one of its oldest residents. She showed me around her lovely home on my visit to Amy Temple Almshouses.

Amy Temple Almshouses do a fantastic job providing save and secure homes, friendship and support to older women in the heart of our community. Some of the older houses need work, which will hopefully be carried out soon with the help of local people. Improvements to existing homes could really boost residents quality of life.

Thank you to the team at Amy Temple Almshouses for all the work they do in the village, and for the ladies for welcoming me into their homes.

0 comments

Post a comment


27 MAY 2016

Caesar Court

It was an honour to be invited to open Caesar Court, which is a great addition to our community. It is important that there are the facilities in place to support people so that they can continue to live a full and active life as they get older.

Caesar Court will offer 81 modern one and two bedroom apartments available through a mix of shared ownership and affordable rent, with 24/7 on site care facilities, as well as private gardens, a cafe, hair salon and restaurant.

It was also great to see how Caesar Court has integrated into the local community. I was really impressed with the artwork students from East Kent College have created for the building, including a special commemorative mosaic in the lobby.

0 comments

Post a comment


20 MAY 2016

Chalk It Up Inspiration=Dover

I was delighted to be invited to open Chalk it Up's Inspiration=Dover event. The evening really showcased the best of local talent, and put Dover on the map for the arts in Kent.

Over the past 10 years Dover Arts Development have engaged 126 artists in thirty projects in Dover, and have brought over £600,000 in finance to the district.

The event showcased 14 artists who have been working closely with Dover's museums and heritage sites in a programme of music and visual art. The event also included exhibits that are due to be installed around Dover for both visitors and local people to enjoy.

It is important that we work to promote the arts locally in any way we can. Not only does local talent deserve to be promoted, but the arts encourage tourism that is important to our local economy.

0 comments

Post a comment


17 MAY 2016

Deal EU Town Hall Debate

I will be chairing an EU Town Hall debate at the Astor Theatre in Deal on Thursday night. (May 19th).

The public meeting will start at 7pm. The speaker for Leave will be Gordon Henderson, Conservative MP for Sittingbourne and Sheppey. The Remain speaker will be Peter Kyle, Labour MP for Hove.

This public meeting is a chance for everyone to come along, listen to the case for Leave and the case for Remain. It is a chance to ask questions and for everyone to have their say.

This is a great opportunity if you still have not decided which way to vote. I am also chairing another EU debate on 2nd June in Dover, and it will be great to see people come along to either event.

0 comments

Post a comment


17 MAY 2016

The Great British Food Campaign

We are incredibly lucky in Dover and Deal to be home of some fantastic local food producers, such as Solley's Farm who provide delicious ice cream across the county, and Tilmanstone Salads, who pack all of the fresh salads for Marks and Spencer food halls up and down the country. Both companies also provide essential local jobs for local people.

These are just two of the producers we get to enjoy locally, not to mention all of the great farms, restaurants and pubs serving our area.

The Great British Food Campaign is a five year campaign, lead by Environment Secretary Elizabeth Truss. It is designed to give a boost to british chefs, entrepreneurs and producers working with local, British ingredients both at home and abroad.

Total British food and drink exports reached £19 billion in 2014. This helps support over 65,000 jobs in food and drink manufacturing.

It is important for our economic future that we do all we can to support our local farms, producers and food businesses and really embrace our rich local food heritage.

0 comments

Post a comment


12 MAY 2016

Why I condemn new planned protests in Dover

On the next bank holiday weekend fascists and anti fascists plan to assemble in Dover. They plan to have demonstrations and counter demonstrations on the Saturday and the Sunday of the Bank holiday weekend. This is unacceptable.

So far this year Dover has had to put up with demonstrations on a monthly basis. Fascists and anti fascists come to Dover to use the town as a battleground. They claim to be people of principle. Yet the truth is they are simply opposite sides of the same coin of hatred and extremism. They come form London and beyond and they seek a weekend of violence by the seaside.

Last week I met with the newly elected Police Commissioner Matthew Scott. I asked him to use all the powers at his disposal to limit these matches. The fascists want to march to the port. They seek to block up the entrance to the Port. This is not in our national interest. It would damage our local and national economy. For this reason I have made the case to the Police that they should use their powers to route any marches away from the A20. In addition it is clearly necessary once again to ensure there is effective, proportionate and appropriate policing. That may mean over 500 officers. The cost of that is astronomical. It is we the Kent taxpayer who have to foot the bill to ensure these extremists are kept at bay. That too is unnacceptable. The cost of these demonstrations should be paid for by the fascists and anti fascist groups that plan to descend on Dover.

These latest demonstrations highlight the need for a change in law. People want to see us keep our "right of protest". Yet there must be balance. The people of Dover and the businesses of Dover have a right to go about their daily lives. Without disruption and without being hampered by the selfish and uncaring actions of an extremist and violent minority. A peaceful demonstration every so often is one thing. A potentially violent demonstration every month harms our town, our local economy, damages our civic renewal and is wholly disproportionate. I am making the case for reform to the Home Secretary.

This right to demonstrate is, of course, all down to European human rights laws. You won't hear much sympathy for the people of Dover from human rights lawyers. European human rights seem too often to be a charter for criminals and the undeserving.

Yet human rights laws should be there to protect us. They should not continually be used as a weapon against the people. We need to see the reform of human rights laws with a British Bill of Rights. We need a human rights code we can have confidence in. A code that will protect the innocent law abiding people of Dover and enable all of us to go about our daily lives without let or hindrance.

2 comments

I would like to see a parliamentary petition Everyone entitled 1 demonstration a year 2 demonstration - sum required to monitor and evaluate cost of police, to the local economy etc 3 or more demonstrations - organisers meet all costs identified in the evaluation - taken on average cost of each demonstration.
- Mike McFarnell

Thank you for making the case for these events to be banned. But you're incorrect to say that these demonstrations are down to human rights law. English common law was for centuries based on principles including that rights exist unless they are specifically prohibited by law. Incidentally, the English Bill of Rights dates back to 1689. The Chief Constable does seem to be interpreting the law in a way which limits the right of Dovorians to go about their business this weekend. It's crazy to address that by making more legislation. Instead, we all need to mount a more effective argument for these marches to be banned next time.
- Stella Quentin

Post a comment


06 MAY 2016

Tiffin Cup 2016

I am delighted that The Rajmahal in Whitfield has been nominated to represent Dover and Deal in The Tiffin Cup. It is a testament to all of the hard work and dedication Raj and his team put into running this great restaurant in the heart of our community.

The Tiffin Cup is an annual competition to find the best South Asian restaurant in Britain. It is not only a great opportunity to highlight some of the great South Asian restaurants we have here in Britain, but the competition will also be raising money for World vision and WaterAid, which are two great charities.

Good luck to Raj and his team.

0 comments

Post a comment


06 MAY 2016

Capel-le-Ferne Primary School

It was great to have the chance to visit Capel-le-Ferne Primary to see all the great work they are doing to give their pupils a rounded education in such a wonderful setting.

I sat down with David Metcalf, the head teacher, and his deputy to discuss the work the school is doing to teach pupils about our nation's values and culture. I also went on a tour of the school, meeting children from every age group in their classes.

I was deeply impressed by the school's plans for an outdoor theatre area as part of their wider plans to expand their outdoor education facilities. The school has done great work raising money for this project so far.

It is important for our children to learn about their local environment and gain essential skills outside of the classroom.

0 comments

Post a comment


06 MAY 2016

Come to the public debates I'm hosting on the EU Referendum in Dover & Deal

The European Referendum on June 23rd will be an historic event. For much of the last Parliament I campaigned for an in/out referendum. The last time we had a vote was some four decades ago. Since then the EU has changed greatly. What was a Common Market has become a much expanded affair. So I believed it was right that we should have a national debate and a national vote on whether we want to Remain as part of the EU or to Leave.

Ahead of the referendum I have organised public meetings in Dover and Deal. There will be speakers for Remain and for Leave. I will chair each meeting. The public meeting in Deal will be held on 19th May at the Astor Theatre, starting at 7pm. The speaker for Leave will be Gordon Henderson, Conservative MP for Sittingbourne and Sheppey. The Remain speaker will be Peter Kyle, Labour MP for Hove. The public meeting in Dover will be held on 1st June at Dover Town Hall, starting at 7pm. The speaker for Leave will be Chris Heaton Harris, Conservative MP for Daventry. The Remain speaker will again be Peter Kyle MP. This is a chance for everyone to come along, listen to the case for Leave and the case for Remain. It is a chance to ask questions and for everyone to have their say.

Now, I have always been highly sceptical of the European Project. Yet it is my belief that the deal David Cameron did won significant protections for jobs and our finance expertise. We got rid of ever closer union and we will never have to join the Euro. It's also very important we see our border remain in Calais. The French on both the left and right sides have been pretty clear that if we vote to Leave they will return our border to Dover. We're that to happen it would be a disaster. We all remember how things were before the 2003 Treaty that brought in juxtaposed controls. It would be an ill wind that returned us to those dark days.

That is my thinking. In this referendum my vote counts the same as yours. Each of us will need to make our decision. To decide what is best for us, our family and our great nation. We must think of the future we wish to build and the kind of country we want to hand over to our children and grandchildren.

I hope these debates will be useful for everyone to get a better understanding of the issues and hear what both sides have to say. These should be interesting evenings in Deal and Dover. Do come to these debates, ask questions and have your say. Above all make sure you vote on June 23rd and have your say on the future of Great Britain.

1 comment

Unfortunately I will not be able to attend but would be interested to know if the out campaign are aware of the price increase it would put on UK imports to the EU, (our biggest market) because of all the extra documentation required ie additional transit forms, cert of origin etc and all the other items required prior to Eu membership. I spent all my working life in shipping and forwarding and believe you me it was not easy to transport in those days. If exports cost more jobs are lost and the economy suffers. Also has anyone thought of the possiblity of 3 Million retired ex pats returning because no health care will be available to them in Spain etc. I think our health service just could not cope with more of us pensioners or a lighter side we would probable have to change 20 million cars with rear EU number plates.
- Mike Whitehead

Post a comment


02 MAY 2016

River Parish Community Day

I really enjoyed the opportunity to stop by River Village Hall to find out more about some of the local groups and organisations in the village at the River Parish Community Day.

Arranged by the parish council, the event was an opportunity for residents to see how they can get involved in their community. Over 20 local groups and organisations such as the local tennis, bowls and gardening clubs were in attendance. The day also included a series of performances and demonstrations through the day, such as showcases from the local karate club and a troup of belly dancers.

The event was also a chance for the Parish council to promote their plans for a new local play area and new equipment for the River Recreation Ground.

It is always great to see so many people looking to get involved in the area where they live, or to join in with local sports groups. Thank you to the Parish council for arranging the community day.

0 comments

Post a comment


01 MAY 2016

Friends of Kingsdown Play Park May Day Fete

I was really pleased to see so many local people to turn out to support the Friends of Kingsdown Play Park in their efforts to raise money for new community play facilities at their May Day Fete. It was an honour to open the event.

The fete was organised to help raise money for a new play area in the village. The group are working with the Parish council to help raise money for the new facilities.

Plans for the new childrens play area were on display. Over a quarter of the money needed has already been raised, and all of the proceeds from the fete went towards the fund. Previous fundraising events have included a sponsored walk, quiz night and scarecrow trail.

The fete featured a range of traditional stalls including pony rides, cream teas and a coconut shy.

It was a fantastic afternoon of fun for all the family. Congratulations to the organisers. And thank you to everyone - from individuals to community groups and local businesses - who put some much time and effort into arranging the event.

0 comments

Post a comment


01 MAY 2016

Dover Rotary Beer Festival

It was great to see so many people turn out to support the Dover Rotary Beer Festival at The Fox in Temple Ewell to help raise money to fight polio.

The festival ran over the Bank Holiday weekend, and featured a range of local and guest beers and ales, fantastic pub food and live music, all for a good cause.

Thank you to everyone involved in such a great event, and for The Fox for allowing their great pub to play host to the festival.

0 comments

Post a comment


29 APR 2016

Campaigning to secure a fairer share of healthcare for Dover & Deal

Getting the highest quality healthcare matters to us all. This is why I am proud that the Government has been increasing spending on the NHS in real terms since 2010. Powers have also been shifted from NHS officials to GPs on the front line. This has had a real impact on making sure we have got a fairer share of healthcare for our community.

For before 2010, Dover's much loved Buckland Hospital had been decimated for a decade. Wards had been axed one by one. Services had been removed. Meanwhile there was a secret plan to withdraw services from Deal Hospital, leaving Deal Hospital teetering on the edge. Our community campaigned to get a new Dover Hospital built. I was proud to march with the late, great, Reg Hansell who fought so hard for the new hospital. In Deal thousands of people took part in a survey to demand more services for Deal Hospital and packed out St George's Church to the rafters. The result? We got the new Buckland Hospital project back on track. We saved Deal Hospital and we're getting more services.

Yet an important part of this is that we had the support of our local GPs who now hold the NHS Cheque book and insisted that we received a fairer share of healthcare.

Now it's our turn to support the GPs. GPs here who want to expand and modernise their practices do not get the support they should. I am working to change that. GPs here do not get a fair share of funding. Bizarrely GPs in well heeled and healthy West Kent get more funding that ours do. This is despite a far higher healthcare need here in Dover and Deal. The funding gap will be £1.5m by 2020. That's not right and I am taking this up with the Health Secretary so we have the resources we need.

We also need more GPs. There are lots of GP vacancies locally. This is bizarre as £100,000 a year goes so much further here than it does in London or Surrey. Plus we have the sea, the White Cliffs, amazing countryside and far less congestion. Yet the GP trainers at the Kent, Surrey and Sussex deanery keep sending new doctors to places like Surrey which already has too many GPs. I am pressing for things to change to help our local doctor practices get the GPs they need.

The NHS has had real increases in funding every year since 2010. This has only been possible because we have a strong economy. We have benefitted with the New Buckland Hospital and more services in Deal. Now I am doing all I can to ensure we get a fairer share of funding for our local doctors and that our local doctors' practises are able to recruit the GPs they need to care for us all.

0 comments

Post a comment


23 APR 2016

Why our asylum policy must be driven by compassion

Recent attempts by migrants to break into Britain by lorry and dinghy have caused renewed concern. Thousands of attempts are made every year. Thanks to our border controls being in Calais, the overwhelming majority do not succeed. They are caught by vigilant ships that patrol the English Channel. By eagle eyed border officers. And by highly trained dogs who sniff out people hiding in the fruit and veg.

Yet the problem of the Calais Jungle remains. There are some who say that we should simply take everyone from the Jungle into Britain. This is the view of Jeremy Corbyn, the Leader of the Labour Party. Others say we should take in unaccompanied children who are in Europe. This is the argument made by Save the Children.

This would not be the right approach. First because it would let European countries off the hook for their responsibilities. Especially France. If you are in Europe, you should surely be seen as being safe. Yet mainly because if we take in more people from Europe we will encourage more to come. That's more people who will make dangerous journeys that too often end in disaster. We all remember little Aylan Kurdi, whose lifeless body lay limp, face down on the beach. Yet loss of life like this is frequent. Too frequent. Just the other day another overloaded boat sank with more lives lost. It's heartrending. We have to do all we can to stop people making these dangerous journeys. Especially vulnerable children who are at risk.

This is why I am pressing Ministers to focus on helping children at risk who are in North Africa and the Middle East. Not in Europe. That would mean we can care for vulnerable children who are at risk and in need while discouraging the making of these dangerous journeys. We should press European nations to adopt a similar approach. So we collectively seek to put an end to these treacherous journeys and defeat the people traffickers, while focussing our care on those most in need.

It's important we do all we can to keep our border in Calais. Yet it is also vital to make sure we co-operate with our European partners to catch people traffickers, stamp out cross border crime and protect the vulnerable - especially women and children - from being exploited. This is why the close co-operation by the UK and French Governments matters so much. Moreover this is why I am so passionate that it must continue.

The migration crisis is not something that will just sort itself out. We know deep down that we cannot sort it out alone. We need to take action in co-operation with our fellow European nations. To help the people who are most in need in conflict zones while ensuring our border is maintained in Calais and is as safe and secure as it can be.

0 comments

Post a comment


22 APR 2016

The Alkham Valley Community Project

It was great to visit the Alkham Valley Community Project to see the wonderful new stable yard they have built with support from the Wooden Spoon Charity.

The Alkham Valley Community Project provide equestrian facilities for the disabled and disadvantaged. The project recently opened a new stable yard funded by the Wooden Spoon Charity. It will be used for educational and therapeutic activities for children and young people.

The charity is now working to raise money to install a roof on the sand school to allow the facility's most vulnerable visitors to access it all year round.

It was lovely to see examples of how many people will be about to benefit from the new yard, who otherwise may not have been able to have access to equestrian facilities at all.

The project is always looking for more volunteers to help out around the stables and in some of their activities, so if you would like to get involved do get in touch with them.

0 comments

Post a comment


22 APR 2016

GP Recruitment

East Kent is a great place to live and work for GPs starting out. £100,000 a year here goes so much further than it does in Surrey and London. The GP training Chiefs push new GPs to London rather than here which is not right.

Recently, I sat down with the NHS South Kent Coast Clinical Commissioning Group to discuss GP recruitment, how our CCG are leading the fight to secure a fair share of funding for our local GP's from NHS England, and how they are working to improve provision for local mental health services.

It is important that we fight for a fair share of health care funding for Dover and Deal primary care. So I'm taking this up with the Health Secretary.

0 comments

Post a comment


22 APR 2016

Tara Surgery

It is always great to catch up with our local GP's. I found it really useful to hear from Dr Bahadur when I visited Tara Surgery in St Margaret's Bay about how the service they offer could be improved by moving into larger premises.

Tara Surgery hopes to move to a larger site in the heart of the village, making them more accessible for patients, and providing them with more space to offer a wider range of services.

Local GP's provide essential, frontline healthcare for our local communities so it is important that we give them the help and support they need to deliver the best possible care and services.

0 comments

Post a comment


13 APR 2016

Repairing Potholes

It is great news that Kent has received such a generous allocation from the Pothole Action Fund to fix our local roads. £1,473,000 of dedicated funding will be given to fix some 27,000 in Kent before the end of 2017.

Nearly £50 million of funding will be made available to local councils across the country over the next 12 months to fix nearly 1 million potholes across the nation's roads.

This funding comes from the Government's £250 million fund which was included in last months budget. The fund will see over 4 million potholes fixed by 2021.

As the gateway to Europe, Kent's roads bear the brunt of the nation's freight traffic placing extra strain on our local roads and motorways.

I have constantly been lobbying the local council and the Department for Transport for action on the state of our roads, so I am very pleased money has been made available to make the repairs that we desperately need.

What we need now is for Kent County Council to stop blocking the TAP 40mph speed limit being made variable.

0 comments

Post a comment


13 APR 2016

New State Pension

The new state pension that was introduced on 6 April helps ensure that hardworking people can look forward to dignity and security in retirement.

Everyone eligible who reaches retirement age in Dover and Deal will now benefit from the new pension. The full rate for the new pension is set at £155.65 a week, which amounts to over £8,000 a year.

The new state pension will particularly benefit women, with over 75% of women and over 70% of men gaining in the first 15 years of the new pension. By 2030 over 3 million women stand to gain an average of over £550 extra every year.

It will also provide clarity and confidence for people across our area about what money they will receive in retirement. The new state pension also goes a long way towards helping those who have historically lost out under the old system.

0 comments

Post a comment


13 APR 2016

Tax Changes To Help Businesses

It is great news for businesses in Dover and Deal that the tax system has been reformed to encourage growth, and make it easier for them to create local jobs for local people. Government reforms will help businesses to invest more of their money into growth, and make it easier for them to take on more staff.

Businesses will now find it easier to take on new apprentices, as employer National Insurance contributions for apprentices under the age of 25 have been abolished. This will save businesses employment an apprentice on the National Minimum Wage over £500 a year.

Businesses will also benefit from a rise in the employment allowance, which has risen from £2,000 to £3,000. This means that a business can employ up to four people full time on the National Living Wage without paying any employer National Insurance contributions.

The Conservative Government is committed to supporting local businesses. Local businesses are at the heart of our local economy, creating more jobs, and providing apprenticeships to train people with the skills they need to feel the benefit and security of a regular pay packet.

Labour say they want to increase business taxation and I am concerned they will once again seek to increase the Jobs Tax.

0 comments

Post a comment


08 APR 2016

These protests are too high a price to pay

At the weekend fascists and anti fascists again assembled in Dover. Last time ended in clashes and violence. This time the Police planned for every eventuality. Over 600 Police Officers were present. They were fully equipped with helmets, body armour and batons. They brought dogs and horses to ensure they had all necessary back up and support. They kept the peace. Last time I was very critical of the Police planning. This time I think they did a great job. The policing was appropriate, proportionate and effective.

Yet at what cost? Policing on this scale is massively expensive. The bill is picked up by the Kent taxpayer for policing people who are from London and beyond who have come seeking a day of violence by the seaside. This is before you get to the disruption to the town and the local economy. The national economy is also harmed as so much freight is delayed when the roads are closed off for these demonstrations. By the end of April there will have been three demonstrations this year. That's almost one every month. The last one was violent. The one late last year was violent. Last weekend was only not violent because the roads were flooded with Police. There will be another on April 23rd - which may again be violent. And so it goes on. The far right and far left come here to use our town as a battleground. Each claims a moral superiority over the other. Yet the truth is they are both as bad as each other. They are simply opposite sides of the same coin of hatred and extremism. These demonstrators' lust for violence knows no bounds and was only checked at the weekend by the powerful Police presence.

The balance is all wrong. People are rightly concerned about our "democratic right to protest". Yet we don't hear about our "democratic right to go about our daily lives." We should. For when we look at the right to protest it ought to be balanced against the disruption people suffer. I do not think people in Dover would mind a demonstration every so often. Yet to go at the clip of a demonstration nearly every month is too much. Particularly given the violence that so often comes with it. To have the town disrupted so often is disproportionate and too high a price to pay.

It's time for reform to enable Dovorians to go about their daily lives without being harassed by extremists. Without the high street having to lose another busy shopping day. Without ferries standing idle at the port and lorries at a standstill chuffing up pollution and dumping yet more rubbish on our already littered roads. This is why the law needs to be reformed and the right to protest must be balanced against the right of people to go about their daily lives.

0 comments

Post a comment


05 APR 2016

Help To Buy

It is great news that over 200 people in Dover and Deal have been helped onto the housing ladder with the support of the Government's Help to Buy scheme.

Help to Buy is a Government scheme to help people access an affordable mortgage with a small deposit.

Across the country, Help to Buy has helped nearly 150,000 families to own their own home. Around 80% of the people who have benefited are first time buyers.

Enabling people to own their own home is a key priority. It's great news that the Conservative's Help to Buy Scheme has supported 200 local people to own their own home. It's making a real difference to people in their daily lives.

0 comments

Post a comment


05 APR 2016

National Living Wage

The new National Living Wage which was introduced on 1 April. Workers over 25 across the country will now receive a minimum of £7.20 an hour. The National Living Wage is forecast to reach £9 an hour by 2020.

Research by the Resolution Foundation shows that nearly one in five workers in Dover and Deal will benefit from the new, higher living wage. Thanks to the new wage, 1.3 million lower-paid workers across the country will receive a direct pay rise.

The new National Living Wage means that more families in our area will have the security of a decent pay packet. This shows the commitment of the One Nation Conservatives to social justice and caring for the least well off.

0 comments

Post a comment


04 APR 2016

Why we must take the battle to the terrorists

Following the Brussels bombings, Europe is on a heightened state of alert. This has had a direct impact on our community. The gridlock on our roads over Easter was not simply down to weight of traffic, weather or the restricted traffic lanes foolishly left in place at Dover. It was mainly down to the French border officers making detailed checks before people and traffic departed for France.

Inevitably people ask if we could see such atrocities here in Britain. My answer is yes. We know that because it did happen. The IRA atrocities at Deal, the Harrods nail bomb and so many others we remember all too well. Likewise the same ISIS style terror as has struck Paris and Brussels attacked London on 7/7.

For us 7/7 marked a turning point. We rightly treated it as a wake up call and acted accordingly. Muslim communities in Britain are better integrated than elsewhere in Europe. The effort put into countering radicalisation by the Home Secretary working closely with our Muslim communities provides less shelter for those who would seek to murder and kill. Countering radicalisation in our schools is also essential to keeping us all safer.

Our intelligence services also upped their game after 7/7. They have become more adept at tracking people and finding information on the Internet. Civil liberties campaigners are against this. Yet their work has prevented many successful terrorist attacks on our streets.

Despite the effort being put into attacking us by ISIS, we have so far been successful. Yet we have to be successful every time. The terrorists only need to succeed once. This is why we can never be complacent or over confident. We all need to be vigilant. Our Police, border officers and security services must have the powers and weapons they need to find terrorists and put a stop to their plans. The Investigatory Powers Bill should be passed into law as soon as possible and Police ought to have the back up arms they may need. We must continue to take the battle to ISIS. I do not often agree with Tony Blair but he's right when he says ISIS is a threat to us all and must be destroyed.

The ultimate lesson of what we are seeing across Europe is that you cannot protect people with political correctness, civil liberties and hand wringing. You protect people by finding and destroying terrorist cells here in Britain. You protect people by finding, degrading and destroying ISIS in their fastnesses and their own territory. Freedom is never free. Our White Cliffs and Dover Hellfire Corner are a constant reminder that there is always a heavy price to pay to maintain our way of life. Yet to keep our people safe and our World at peace this is a price we always have to pay

0 comments

Post a comment


01 APR 2016

Roadside Rubbish

I have met with representatives from Highways England and Dover District Council to demand action to clear rubbish from our local roads. Representatives of Kent County Council and the Harbour Board were invited but did not turn up.

Our roads are filthy and disgusting. Everyone has an important role to play. It's clear that the District Council and Highways England are committed to making the difference.

The amount of rubbish, litter and human waste lining our local roads is disgusting. 1.6 tonnes of rubbish has recently been removed from the A20, and that is not considering other major routes like the A2 and around our rural villages.

It was disappointing but unsurprising that the Dover Harbour Board and Kent County Council were as remote and shirking of responsibility as ever. We needed the Harbour Board to help advise lorry drivers not to dump rubbish on our roads. And we needed Kent County Council to explain why they are blocking making the TAP's 40mph speed speed limit variable. Yet again we see why we need port reform and an East Kent Unitary Authority that is in touch with our area.

We need to clear our roads, but we also need to encourage motorists and foreign HGV drivers to keep our roads clear by properly disposing of their rubbish. Let's Keep Britain Tidy.

3 comments

I completely agree with Charlie, Our Parish Council brought this matter to the Kent County Councillor last month, We are so fed up with the rubbish I feel that the good people of Dover should protest and block the roads, by having a mass litter clearance day with lorries flashing signs which say Sorry for the delay we are picking up YOUR rubbish. Perhaps this would be a really sound reason for protest.
- Brenda Paul

I agree with every word you have written. Thank you for the action you have taken. Very disappointing that Dover Harbour Board and KCC did not attend. How about involving some of the stores/supermarkets/eating places becoming involved to remove some of the litter which has been sourced from their premises and around their premises?
- Valerie Measey

The A2 and the surrounding villages are swamped by litter which is unattractive, unhealthy and smelly. DDC have been very responsive in providing local residents with equipment to clear our local lanes. However, I think there is more to this issue. Our neighbours in France provides suitable stopping places with facilities, and this offers dignity to the drivers who must find it frustrating not to find this same consideration in our country.. Lay-bys and bins have disappeared. We need a strategy that covers all aspects of the problem.
- Vi Cobb

Post a comment


01 APR 2016

Kennedy Scott

It was great to visit Kennedy Scott, not only to hear from jobseekers how they can best be helped into work, but to hear about some of their success stories, too. It is good to see more and more people in our area feeling the benefits of being in work.

I met Paul Whitnall who has successfully been supported back into the world of work. Paul has launched his own business helping people make healthier life choices.

Unemployment in Dover and Deal has near halved since 2010. Agencies like Kennedy Scott are an essential part in helping jobseekers find work and taking us one step forward to our goal of 100% employment.

0 comments

Post a comment


01 APR 2016

Martha Trust

It was a fantastic to visit the Martha Trust's home in Deal. They care for people with profound and multiple disabilities. The dedication of the 100 strong team of local carers towards supporting the residents to get the best out of life was clear to see.

Martha Trust runs three homes in Deal and Hastings, caring for 33 young people and adults. They also offer day services and respite care.

I was taken on a tour of the home and facilities - including a state-of-the-art hydrotherapy pool and multi sensory rooms - and chatted to staff and residents. I was particularly impressed with the way all of the residents' rooms were personalised to suit their individual tastes and needs.

The Martha Trust does great work. They are always looking for local people to help with and support their work and fundraising efforts - so do get in touch with them to see if there is a way you may be able to help out.

0 comments

Post a comment


28 MAR 2016

My campaign for better transport and to clean up our filthy roads

Transport has always been important to our community, with much of Britain's international trade shifted through our port. The ferry companies are major employers for people living in our community. We have major roads in the A20 and A2 and rail connections to London that get us about and to work.

Transport is our strength as well as a major source of employment. Yet it also presents real challenges, particularly at the moment. We are seeing through port reform with the appointment of community directors. Increasing port traffic is placing greater pressure than ever on our roads. We had problems with the A20/M20 being at a standstill last summer during the Sea France strike. We frequently suffer gridlock in Dover. Our roads are filthy and disgusting. On top of this, the Dover sea wall failed, taking our major rail line out of service.

This week I met with the Transport Secretary to press the importance of making improvements. The port and ferry companies, along with the Highways Agency, need to take more responsibility for the rubbish on our roads. They need to understand that routing port traffic via the A2 causes tailbacks on the Jubilee Way and cuts Dover off. This makes it hard for people to go about their business and get to work. Port traffic should go only via the A20/M20.

The Operation Stack lorry parks on the M20 will make a real difference. Yet they will take two years to build. So we need to make sure the TAP system works properly to stop Dover suffering gridlock and ensure the TAP speed limit is made variable.

The situation is made worse by the port undertaking major works to change the roundabouts in Dover to traffic light junctions. The Department for Transport and Highways officers have asked the port to have a plan to avoid gridlock in Dover at peak times like over Easter. This matters as the Easter period will be a real problem if not properly managed. This will be a major test for the port management.

Finally the sea wall railway line repair is a big project. It will cost a very serious amount of money. It seems likely that the railway line will take until the end of this year to repair and bring back into service. Network Rail should be in a position to say clearly exactly how long very soon. This has been very hard for rail passengers.

At the moment we have big transport challenges. Yet the railway line will be repaired and the lorry parks will be built. This will be a collective investment of up to £350 million to improve transport in our community. Once these works are complete we should have a secure rail line and see the back of Operation Stack. With port reform and better collaborative working to clean up our roads, this should mean we will have stronger and more reliable transport networks for Dover and Deal over the longer term.

0 comments

Post a comment


26 MAR 2016

Big Lottery Fund

It is fantastic news that Chequers Community Kitchen has been granted funding from the Big Lottery Fund. They do incredibly work teaching cooking skills to those who benefit from them the most. I was really impressed when I joined one of their cookery classes recently.

£172,160 of funding from the Big Lottery Fund that has been awarded to the Chequers Community Kitchen through their reaching communities programme. Money is granted through the Big Lottery Fund's reaching communities programme to organisations that help enrich communities and seek improve the lives of local people.

It is really important that we encourage everyone to maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle. It is great to see organisations like this that contribute to the wellbeing of local people supported with additional funding.

0 comments

Post a comment


18 MAR 2016

Age UK Riverside Centre

It was great to visit Age UK's Riverside Centre to chat with visitors about the issues that matter to them.

Age UK's Dover Riverside Centre is open 6 days a week for elderly people to visit for lunch, activities and company. Age UK also offers staffed care services such as bathing, hairdressing, toenail care and foot massages.

I particularly enjoyed the chance to talk about the importance of ensuring we care properly for older people with Arthur Plummer, who is 103 and has lived in Dover most of his life.

Thank you to Age UK for all the great work they do providing a great community environment for their guests at the Riverside Centre. Many of their services are run by volunteers - so if you would like to help out, please do get in touch with them.

0 comments

Post a comment


18 MAR 2016

Astor School

It was encouraging to visit Astor School and hear about all the improvements they have been making. I was pleased that Ofsted have recognised the efforts of the staff and pupils to raise standards. Ofsted noted that there had been 'significant improvement' at Astor School seen during their most recent inspection.

Thank you to the 6th form students who took time out from their day to show me around the school. The quality of the artwork on display was fantastic. It is really great we have a school in Dover that is focused on nurturing artistic and creative talent.

0 comments

Post a comment


18 MAR 2016

Jobs and Apprenticeships Fair

It was fantastic to be able to hold my fourth annual Jobs and Apprenticeships Fair in Dover Town Hall. This year I wanted to expand the fair to cover further opportunities for apprenticeships and training to reflect the ever increasing skill of our local workforce.

I had the opportunity to catch up with a lot of local businesses such as Tilmanstone Salads who are creating 70 new jobs in the area, and to talk to local jobseekers about what can be done to help them into work.

Over 30 local employers, charities and training providers were in attendance. The day also included presentations by DFDS on careers and apprenticeships in the maritime industry. A series of work groups were run by CXK (part of the National Careers Service) on how to use social media for a jobs search, and on how to write a good CV. Mock interviews also ran throughout the day.

The Jobs and Apprenticeships Fair was really well attended by local people, who were pleased to have the chance to explore all of their employment and training options in one place. A large group from Dover College also attended so the students could get to know their options.

Thank you to everyone who helped make the Jobs and Apprenticeships Fair such a success, including DFDS for agreeing to be our key sponsor. A big thank you also needs to go to Discovery Park for also sponsoring the event.

0 comments

Post a comment


17 MAR 2016

Apprenticeships are the focus of my Jobs Fair at Dover Town Hall tomorrow

This week is National Apprenticeship Week. On Friday I am holding my annual jobs and apprentices fair in Dover Town Hall. Apprentices matter and make a huge difference to people's lives. Good quality training and apprenticeships help our young people to do better in the world of work. They are able to build essential skills and gain the vital experience that leads to promotion and a bigger pay packet.

Over 2.6 million apprenticeships have been started across Britain since May 2010. In Dover and Deal alone, 4,300 of our young people have started new apprenticeships. These apprenticeships are providing people with experience and training them in the skills they need to enter an increasingly specialised workforce.

A good job brings the security and stability of a regular pay packet. It also allows people to plan ahead, save for the future and to buy their own home.

It is not just jobseekers who benefit from apprenticeships. Local businesses have the chance to train young people in the valuable skills they need to fill highly skilled jobs. This creates more opportunities for work and boosts our local economy. Apprentices also help to raise the productivity of the businesses they join.

The Government is committed to creating 3 million more apprenticeships by 2020. It is important that employers and job seekers alike are able to benefit from skills based apprenticeships and specialist training schemes. It will soon become even easier for businesses to hire apprentices, as employers' National Insurance contributions for apprentices under the age of 25 will be abolished from this April.

We need to focus on driving up the quality of apprenticeships. To make sure that funding for apprenticeships only goes towards schemes that are valued by employers.

I am looking forward to holding my Jobs & Apprenticeships Fair in Dover Town Hall this Friday 10am-3pm. Over 20 different employers will be gathered together to help local jobseekers find apprenticeships and jobs. It's also great for people looking for a change of job or a job in a new area. I am incredibly grateful to all employers for coming - particularly DFDS and Discovery Park for their sponsorship of the event.

This year my jobs fair is focusing on training and apprenticeships. The companies involved will be showing people who come along how enrolling in specialised training and quality apprenticeships can greatly improve their prospects of finding work. Do come along if you are looking for work, or if you might be interested in entering into training or starting an apprenticeship.

Good quality apprenticeships increase our young people's prospects of finding a good job and enjoying a more secure future. This is a key part of our long term economic plan. The rising number of people starting apprenticeships in our area is good news. These apprenticeships bring us a step closer to our goal of full employment in Dover and Deal. So do come to the Dover Jobs and Apprenticeships Fair and see if their is an opportunity for you.

0 comments

Post a comment


17 MAR 2016

New Homes For Local People

It is fantastic news that more and more new homes are being built in our area. New developments such as the garden village in Aylesham are helping to provide homes for local people. We are getting on with building the homes we need and bringing the opportunity of a new starter home to our young people.

Figures released by the National House-Building Council that show 395 new homes were started to be built in the Dover area in 2015, up from only 208 new home starts in 2014. These figures come as part of a 7% year-on-year-increase with new home registrations across the country, and 75% more new homes being registered in 2015 than in 2009, nationwide.

Government schemes such as Help To Buy are helping buyers to be able to afford their own home. Home ownership offers families security and stability, so the more people we help to buy their own home the better.

0 comments

Post a comment


14 MAR 2016

Building the new homes our community needs

Civic renewal never comes easily. Yet the hard work of so many years is beginning to pay off in Dover & Deal. Burlington House has come down and urgently needed homes are springing up across the area.

The renewal of Dover has been a long standing campaign. The fall of Burlington House is not simply the firing of the starting gun on the regeneration we have so long needed. It is incredible how long hidden views have opened up across Dover. The sight lines from the castle to the Drop Redoubt are now breathtaking. Think how Dover will be even better once the development is built. No more visits to Ashford or Westwood Cross to see the latest film. People will be able to do that as well as shopping and so much more in Dover town centre. It will have a dramatic impact on Dover's local economy.

So too should the Western Docks revival. The port area will look even better when the potential of the area around the marine station is realised. There is so much happening in our area and there is an increasing sense of momentum.

Yet renewal is not simply about town centres. It's also about building the homes we need. Bringing opportunity and starter homes to our young people really matters. This is why we fought to see Connaught Barracks brought forward for development. The current progress is really promising and why so many have worked hard to see the potential of the Western Heights realised. Homes we need and the restoration of the Drop Redoubt matters to us.

Yet it's not all about Dover. The development I visited in Aylesham last week is transforming that village. It's incredible to see. A good development that is working well. We need to see sensible development in Deal and the other villages too. Critical to this is ensuring that the road infrastructure is up to it. In this regard Kent Highways is an abject failure. They allow any old dangerous overloaded road to be used for large developments. Small wonder everyone is saying we need an East Kent Unitary authority that is more in touch with the things we need.

The water companies are also dreadful. They are slow on connections and fail to put in the required infrastructure, as we have seen from the problems at Albert Road in Deal. Developments are going ahead, but the utilities and transport links must improve.

These are exciting times for our community, with a lot happening. But we need to see a lot more happen. There is increasing momentum with the town centre development in Dover, the garden village at Aylesham and the proposals to build more of the homes we need. The future is looking brighter for our corner of Kent, but we need to keep going and get the best for our area.

1 comment

Nutter!
- WTF

Post a comment


14 MAR 2016

New Aylesham Development

It was great to have the opportunity to have a look around some of the beautiful new family homes that are being built in Aylesham. The houses are selling like hot cakes, and it was wonderful to hear how much interest there has been in the development from local people.

Barratt Homes and Persimmon Homes are building 1,210 new homes, together with community facilities and improved transport links for the area. This is part of overall plans for an Aylesham Garden Village.

I met with the developers before being taken on a tour of the developments. It was good to get the chance to look around show homes, and to meet potential buyers.

Most of the homes in the first phase of the development have been sold off plan, highlighting how high demand is in the area. Around half of the homes are being sold as part of the Government's Help To Buy scheme. It was good to hear from potential buyers how Help To Buy has been instrumental in helping them get on the housing ladder.

More and more people in our area are feeling the benefit of owning their own home. The 1,210 new homes that are being built on these two sites alone are just one example of how Dover and Deal is again a community on the rise.

0 comments

Post a comment


04 MAR 2016

Whole School Meals

Recently I visited Sandown School in Deal to try one of their school lunches, provided by healthy school meal company, Whole School Meals.

Whole School Meals provide £2.30 a head, 2 course school meals in 25 schools in the Dover, Deal and Folkestone area. They also run cookery clubs at some of the schools. They are able to give back profits to schools to help fund new equipment and facilities. Sandown School have invested in a climbing frame and an artificial grass area from the profits they have had returned.

The Whole School Meals network is made up of over 100 in school staff, including mobile staff to cover staff sickness, and facilities for bigger schools to cook for the schools that don't have kitchens.

This is seriously good food. The children ate it all up. It provides a balanced diet. No excessive sugar, mountains of salt or turkey twizzlers here. The children at our schools are getting the very best.

I am so proud of the great work Whole School Meals do and the way they return their profits to the schools meaning even better facilities for our children as well as top food.

0 comments

Post a comment


04 MAR 2016

Chequers Cookery School

I had a wonderful morning at Chequers Cookery School learning how cooking easy meals from scratch can help maintain a healthy heart.

The Chequers Cookery School runs free cookery courses for parents, the unemployed and people suffering from medical conditions who benefit from being taught basic cookery skills. This course was aimed at diabetics as well. I learnt a lot, the food was amazing and these classes are clearly really helpful for local people with diabetes or heart conditions.

The cookery course is being funded by Heart Research UK in partnership with Subway. Everyone attending the 8 week course will be asked to pass on what they learn each week by teaching someone else the skills they have gained, such as a friend, neighbour of family member.

It is really important that we encourage people of all ages to maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle, not just the groups that are usually targeted like school children.

If you think you might be able to benefit from a course at Chequers, do get in touch with them to find out how you can get involved.

0 comments

Post a comment


04 MAR 2016

A community led port is rising at the docks

It's great news that we have received confirmation that the first community directors will now be appointed to the Dover Harbour Board. The decision by the Marine Management Organisation shows how far we have come in five short years. Five years ago the port was set to be sold off to the French or whoever by the previous Government. All that was required was a flick of the Minister's pen and centuries of history would all have been over.

After our powerful community campaign, we didn't just stop the port sell off plan. We won important reforms. The port would have the powers it needed to raise money for investment in the future. Looking at the waterside we can see how badly that investment is needed. We can also see the progress being made on the Western Docks Revival as decades of neglect start to be rolled back. The port also agreed to set up a community fund for the benefit of the community. Already it has been active and I hope it will gain greater funds in due course. This is important as a complaint of many was that the port did too little to benefit the town. Now it does more.

Yet the most important plank of port reform was that the community should be represented in the boardroom. It is essential we should have community directors we can have trust and confidence in. Because we need to ensure there is an ever closer partnership between the port, port businesses and the community. The two community directors that are being appointed, Neil Wiggins and Samantha Parker, are well qualified and the best people for the job.

For decades there has been tension in the port-community relationship. This needs to change and the only way to change it will be by bringing together the port, ferry companies and the people. This is what the People's Port was all about. If the port was to be sold then we wanted to buy it to drive that partnership. The end of the privatisation threat did not make the need for a true partnership go away.

Only if we all work together will we see the kind of Dover we want to build. Only then will we get the investment, have the sense of common purpose and the community led port that is required to change Dover.

We have before us a great opportunity. A chance for the unity and common purpose that is required to change Dover forever. To make our town again a jewel in the crown of the nation. A place people want to visit. The first sight of England that makes us proud and impresses visitors from the lands overseas. The challenge lies with us all to grasp this opportunity and forge the partnership that will change Dover forever.

0 comments

Post a comment


29 FEB 2016

Further Reform at the Port of Dover

It is fantastic news that the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) has confirmed that Neil Wiggins and Samantha Parker can now join the Dover Harbour Board as Community Directors. The long awaited Order will allow for key reforms at the Port of Dover to take place.

With the powers to invest in the future and the port community fund, Dover is fast moving to become a community led port. The Community directors were appointed in 2014 but have not been able to take up their posts due to delays. Today witnesses a powerful step forward for our community.

0 comments

Post a comment


27 FEB 2016

P&O Maloja

It was an honour to attend a memorial to honour the crew who were lost on board the P&O ship Maloja when it was sunk by enemy action off the coast of Dover. The service marked 100 years since the ship was lost. 122 people died on board the vessel, including many Lascars, who were sailors from India.

Local resident Leah Baker noticed the memorial in St Mary's Cemetery and lead a successful campaign for the restoration of the monument, as well as for a remembrance to be held for the centenary. Work to restore the memorial is still ongoing, with the Urdu section of script still to be restored.

I think the work Leah and P&O have done to restore the memorial to the Maloja and to raise awareness for the many lives lost is wonderful.

Dover has such a rich, sometimes tragic navel history, and it is important that not a single life is forgotten. It is especially important that we remember those from around the world who may not have anyone to remember them in the local area.

I look forward to visiting the memorial again once it has been fully restored, and to learn more about the history of the Maloja.

1 comment

I too would like to know more. the town of deal was also once a major port, and we should not forget the tragic events that took place around our local coast.
- robert

Post a comment


23 FEB 2016

Our borders will be safer and more secure in the European Union

Whether we should remain in Europe or leave has cast a shadow over our politics for more than three decades. It has long been the case that the European question needed to be settled one way or the other. This is why I have always supported having an in or out referendum. I am glad this referendum is now going to take place on June 23rd.

I have always felt there are practical concerns with the European project. Yet I have always taken a pragmatic and hard headed view about what is best for Dover & Deal - and for Britain. I have read through every word of the agreement struck at the European Council by the Prime Minister. I listened carefully to the Prime Minister's statement to the House of Commons. And I met with Home Secretary this week to discuss what this means for Dover & Deal. I have considered deeply the implications for our community as regards jobs and prosperity, border security and national security.

Jobs and Prosperity

There is no doubt that economic management of the Eurozone has been poor. There, unemployment has risen in many nations. Young people have paid the highest price for this economic failure.

Yet we are not in the Eurozone. So we have been able to grow. We've had the strongest growth of all major advanced economies - and a jobs revolution. Here in Dover & Deal youth unemployment has fallen over 50% since 2010. This is because we have an economic plan that is delivering security and opportunity for Britain.

Therefore it is essential that the Eurozone cannot subject us to their economic policies. It had been feared they might try - in particular to make us pay for Eurozone bail outs or seek to attack the City of London and our banking system. The Prime Minister's agreement has secured a binding commitment that the Eurozone will not do those things.

The European Union is a huge customs union. If we left we would be subject to tariffs. As we import more goods than we export we would arguably be net beneficiaries. Yet any trade barriers will have the effect of reducing trade. The nature of the single market is that it would be easy to make it harder for us to export to Europe.

If we were to leave there are two important questions to consider. First would the Eurozone renew their attempts to discriminate against the City of London and our banking system. Second would Europe make it harder for us to trade in the single market and would we be able to increase trade with the rest of the World to offset any problems we might have with the single market.

Border security

A key concern for our community is border security. Just over a decade ago, Dover suffered hugely as migrants were able to get to Britain before they encountered effective border controls. This situation caused much concern in our community as there were so many migrants in Dover. Things changed when an agreement was made with France that the UK border should move to Calais. This was the Le Touquet Treaty of 2003. Juxtaposed controls were set up so that UK and French border posts were maintained at both Dover and Calais. This means that UK border officers are able to stop migrants at Calais and hand them over to the French authorities.

As a result the overwhelming majority of migrants seeking to get to the UK are stuck in France. There they scheme with people traffickers to break into Britain. In almost every case their designs are thwarted by eagle eyed border officers, vigilant ships that patrol the English Channel and a crack squad of highly trained dogs that sniff out people hiding in the fruit and veg.

Moving the border back to Dover would be a disaster. That is why I have always been a passionate defender of the juxtaposed controls. Having our border at Calais ensures that we do not have the problems in Dover we had over a decade ago.

Meanwhile the people of the Calais region are appalled by The Jungle at Calais. Daily they demand of the French government that the treaty should be torn up. If we were to leave Europe, what incentive would there be for the French to maintain our border in Calais. And could they cancel the treaty even were we to remain.

National security

Our community served as the front line in the First and Second World Wars. It was from here that our beleaguered army was rescued from Dunkirk. Under these very skies was the Battle of Britain fought. Those conflicts taught us that only if we stood with our allies could we maintain peace.

This matters as Russia has invaded Ukraine and now threatens Turkey. Syria is in civil war and the wider instability in the Middle East has bred Islamic Terror. If we were to vote to leave Europe, a key question is whether global peace and stability would be affected and how Russia would react and whether they would see our leaving as a lack of commitment to security in Europe.

Conclusion

The European Union is far from perfect. Yet within it we are still able to grow strongly and benefit from the customs union, as our economic record shows. We benefit from greater certainty as regards border security. For sure the French could cancel the treaty at any time. Yet the risk they would do so is far greater were we to leave Europe. Finally within Europe, no-one doubts our commitment to the security of the European continent.

Were we to to leave, we may very well continue to enjoy economic success. We might persuade the French that they would prefer to keep our border at Calais. We could even persuade President Putin of our continued commitment to the security of Europe. Yet there is great risk and uncertainty in all these matters. It is for these reasons that I currently intend to vote to stay in the European Union.

A copy of my letter to electors regarding my decision can be found here.

1 comment

Dear Charlie, Thank you for your balanced view I fully endorse to stay in the EU it is not perfect but what is in this world. I keep asking the people that I know politely that wish to leave if your best friend said he or she did not want to be your friend any more but still wanted your help support and all the benefits they had being your friend what would you do? Everyone has answered if they do not want to be my friend I would not help them or give them my support! Then they start about immigration and I say you just answered your own question and I have just spent over £10,000 just trying to get permission to get my partner to visit our country. I then say do not believe it is simple to get into this country even with right on my side and a good job here. Yes we have a problem with illegal immigration by economic migrants and criminals that stop our trains and lorries but they should claim asylum in France or the first country they have landed in. As per your statement once we have no friendship or partnership via the EU with France they will push the boarder back to the UK and we will have 10's thousands of these economic migrants to look after here in the UK we just do not have room for and we do not want. I pray we stay in the EU and can start the fight for real reforms such as an elected President, Commissionaires and Judges? Then we can fight at the heart of the EU for better farming, fishers, energy and security issues. PS I am still a Royalist and I love my Queen and country with its great Parliament and History! I leave everyone with one final thought why Europe should be one so we never have a new European war like WW! and WW2 so no country can ever rise again! Kind regards, Adrian
- Adrian Briggs

Post a comment


20 FEB 2016

Demolition of Burlington House - a key milestone for Dover's renewal

Seeing Burlington House finally come down shows how far we've come together in recent years. Before 2010 the idea that Burlington House would come down seemed a distant dream. Back then unemployment had rocketed, our port was about to be sold off to the French or whoever and plans for a new Dover hospital had stalled.

Fast forward to the present and unemployment has halved, the new Buckland Hospital has opened its doors and we stopped the port sell off. The fall of Burlington House takes us on to the next stage. It is the firing of the starting gun for the renewal of Dover. There are exciting plans for a new cinema, great shops and improvements to the sea front.

It's all change at the port too. There are new plans for investment. Community engagement has improved. Reform will take another step forward once the community directors are appointed. The community director appointments are being held up by the Town Council. Hopefully they will end their political games soon so we can get on with the serious business of next stage port reform.

Renewal for our community is not without bumps in the road - or the rail. The failure of the railway sea wall at Dover has caused real problems. Our area has been seeing a sharp increase in commuting to work in recent years. This has been a real boost to our local economy. So the break in the line has been a serious concern. The beach by the Shakespeare Cliff was washed away following storms. This meant that the foundations of the sea wall were exposed. They were undermined and that caused the failure of the sea wall.

It had been hoped that a running repair could be made. Unfortunately the old Victorian timber viaduct the rails originally ran on has rotted away. This means a new modern viaduct will have to be built. It will stand on piles driven deep into the chalk. It will be protected by rock armour rather than a traditional sea wall. This is a very big job. It will take a long time to build.

I have asked Network Rail to give everyone a time estimate as soon as possible. Meanwhile the Task Force I am chairing is working hard to make sure repairs are taken forward as quickly as possible and that any obstacles are overcome as fast as may be.

Much has been achieved in our community in recent years. Yet there is much more to do. We will always have new challenges to overcome - like the sea wall failure. Yet it's how we deal with the challenges and overcome them that matters. More is happening in Dover now than for many decades. I am increasingly optimistic about the change we can make. There is a real sense we can make the town once again as jewel in the crown of the nation.

1 comment

Thanks for the update. Please do keep us updated re the trains as someone who works in London and Europe. I find it quicker and easier to arrive at work in Paris than I do to travel to my office in London from my home in Deal - crazy!
- Suzanne

Post a comment


12 FEB 2016

Could our border move back from Calais to Dover?

Could France ditch the Le Touquet treaty? In other words could they move our border back to Dover from Calais?This question has been raised this week by the Prime Minister and matters greatly to the future of our community.

A decade ago our border was at Dover. This was a very difficult time for the town because migrants were able to get into Britain before they encountered effective border controls. Many migrants were housed in temporary accommodation in Dover.

This situation caused an incredible level of anger and frustration in the town. Across Britain concern rose - especially as there was a belief many migrants were making false asylum claims. The level of concern rose to such a pitch that the then Prime Minister Tony Blair was forced to take action.

First, migrants were provided with accommodation elsewhere in Britain. Secondly, an agreement was stuck with France that the UK border should move to Calais. Juxtaposed controls were set up so that UK and French border posts were maintained at both Dover and Calais. This means that UK border officers are able to stop migrants at Calais and hand them over to the French authorities.

As a result most of the migrants seeking to get to the UK are struck in France. There they consort with people traffickers and scheme ways to break into Britain. In almost every case their designs are thwarted by eagle eyed border officers, vigilant ships that patrol the English Channel and a crack squad of highly trained dogs that sniff out people hiding in the fruit and veg.

France does not have the same approach as us for accommodating migrants. So the migrants live outside in whatever shelter they can obtain. Generally this means tents and bivouacs. The area they live in Calais is wooded and for this reason is known as "The Jungle".

I have always been a passionate defender of the juxtaposed controls. Having our border at Calais ensures that we do not have the problems in Dover we had over a decade ago. So I have been highly critical of those who seek to axe this treaty - particularly the Mayor of Calais and UKIP, who have been campaigning to bring our border back to Dover.

The Prime Minister this week said that if we left the EU the French may end the juxtaposed controls and move our border back to Dover. Now I have always been highly sceptical of the European project, but I have to say he has a point. If we left the EU what incentive would there then be for France to help us with border security? And wouldn't it be an easy way to rid Calais of The Jungle if the migrants were able to get into the UK?

Whatever happens I will always do my best to ensure that our border remains in Calais. The Le Touquet treaty has been really very positive for Dover. We need to keep the juxtaposed controls to maintain our border security and avoid going back to the bad old days of a decade ago.

1 comment

To prevent the border moving back from Calais to Dover will you support the Prime Minister and campaign for Britain to remain a member of the European Union?
- Beata Brooks

Post a comment


05 FEB 2016

Brandon Hire

It is fantastic to see Brandon Hire step in to help out a Dover charity in need. Vandals stole tools, and equipment from the Western Heights Preservation Society and caused considerable damage estimated at around £3,000 in a recent break in.

Brandon Hire donated replacements of essential equipment such as drills, electrical equipment and Health and Safety gear to the society.

I was disgusted that vandals had done so much damage to where the Western Heights Preservation Society had been working at the Drop Redoubt. They do fantastic work preserving and sharing Dover's rich history.

Thank you to the Branch Manager at Brandon Hire Graham Taylor, Key Account Manager Milford Lingard, and all the team at Brandon Hire for stepping up to offer assistance to such a great cause.

0 comments

Post a comment


05 FEB 2016

Burlington House Demolished

On Friday I visited the site of Burlington House to see the final piece of the building demolished to make way for exciting new development. The demolition is a defining moment in the renewal of Dover.

For too long Burlington House overshadowed our town, and it will be fantastic to see the space where it once stood transformed into shops and restaurants that our community can enjoy.

1 comment

Couldn"t agree more Charlie. Burlington house was an eyesore.Looking forward to Cineworld. Can't wait for the new cinema in Deal too.
- Tracy Jane Wilton

Post a comment


05 FEB 2016

Never again should violent mobs be allowed to roam the streets of Dover

Last September fascists and anti fascists were allowed to march in Dover with disastrous results. Last weekend, these militant groups were again allowed to march at the same time. It was inevitable that the Police line would break, that control of the situation would be lost and that people would get hurt. For this reason allowing these demonstrations to go ahead was irresponsible, reckless and wrong. The demonstrations should have been held on different days following last Autumn's experience.

What happened was a total shambles and the Chief Constable and Police Commissioner have serious questions to answer. Many people have complained to me about what happened and I will be taking those complaints to the Independent Police Complaints Authority.

The Police deny they lost control. They also say they had a "duty to facilitate" the rival demonstrations.

I do not agree. We all saw the bloody scenes on TV. We saw the moment the Police line broke and the rival demonstrations were allowed to meet with terrible consequences. Control was clearly lost. Kent Police should apologise to the people of Dover.

What about this "duty to facilitate" demonstrations? It's true. There is a duty to facilitate a peaceful protest under Article 11(1) of the Human Rights code. What the Police don't say is that the protest must be peaceful. After last September it was clear it would not be peaceful. Moreover Article 11(2) says the right to protest can be restricted in the interests of public safety, the prevention of disorder and the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.

My view is that a decision was made to put the right to protest ahead of the rights and freedoms of the people of Dover. The Police did not use their extensive powers to uphold public safety and prevent disorder. That was wrong. It was wrong for elderly people out doing their shopping to be left in fear. It was wrong for families to have to hide in shops while a baying mob roamed the streets outside. It was wrong that businesses, the port and our local economy were disrupted. The first call of the Police should have been to keep the people of Dover safe and secure. They had the powers to do so. They did not use them. That was wrong. This is why I have met with the Police Minister about what happened and why I am asking him to investigate.

We strive in Dover for civic renewal. What we saw was civil disorder. We encourage visitors to come and enjoy the town. We do not want outsiders to use Dover as a battleground. Never again should we see scenes like those we saw last weekend. Never again should the Police allow such scenes to happen. Never again should rival groups of militant extremists be allowed to demonstrate and clash in Dover.

2 comments

I agree with you wholeheartrdly that we don't want fascists roaming the streets of Diver and Deal with their warped ideology. I remember at the 2010 General Elecfion T Dover Town Hall the BNP fascists clicking their heels like Nazi stormtroopers. This unedifying display made me feel phycally nauseous. There was a repeat performance in Hawkinge. Myself and a Conservative Councillor distanced ourselves from two BNP supporting Elderly gentlemen , who should have known better after witnessing Hitler's rise to power and the atrocities committed in Nazi concentration camps! I DO NOT blame the Police on the ground for the lack of control over the thuggish fiasco and blood shed on the streets of Dover. I blame the Police Commisioner Anne Barnes for this fiasco and the terror wrought on the children and elders of thr Black Fish drama academy who enabled these brainless idiots to break in on their performance. I believe in the right to free speech and protest ; but not to the detriment of others who have the right to safety. Anne Barnes and whoever else enabled this violent fiasco to go a go ahead should resign forthwith and be replaced by someone with real Police exexperience on the ground.
- Tracy Jane Wilton

Absolutely agree. Thank you for taking this up with the appropriate authorities. It's great to know we have an MP who actually represents the best interest of the community. Keep up the great work.
- Ken Green

Post a comment


29 JAN 2016

Keeping our borders safe and secure

The situation at Calais is of grave concern to us all. Migrants have tried to rush the port and some got onto a ferry before the boarders were repelled by the ship's crew. Migrants daily seek to stow away onto lorries and the haulage industry is calling for the army to be sent in. The conditions at the camps in Calais and Dunkirk are dreadful. Hard left militant anarchists from Britain are agitating in the camps and seeking to inflame an already bad situation.

This is an even bigger problem because the Dover to Calais route is critical for our international trade. Every time a stowaway gets on a lorry the load has to be thrown away. Lorry drivers who pick up a stowaway get heavily fined, so the haulage industry is forced to invest in expensive detection equipment and park up in secure lorry parks.

What then is to be done? Some will say the easy answer is simply to leave the EU. There are many good reasons to make that case. Yet our border security is not one of them. If we left, the border would surely move from Calais to Dover. The migrants at Calais would no longer be in Calais and this would take Dover back to the dreadful situation of some years ago.

Others say we should simply open our borders and allow everyone in. The same people also argue that we should take the nuclear defence out of our nuclear submarines and hand the Falkland Islands over to Argentina. These are all very bad ideas - they would undermine our national security, our border security and the safety of us all. The return to the bad old days of the open door to Britain that used to exist before 2010 would be a danger for migrants too, for once you allow anyone to wander in, more will seek to follow.

Attracted by the magnet of an open border people will make ever greater and more dangerous efforts to enter Britain. As we have seen before, this all too often ends in tragedy. This is why the Prime Minister is right in saying that we should take vulnerable people in need from close to the nations they have been forced to flee in order to discourage the making of long, treacherous and dangerous journeys.

The situation at Calais is serious. We need better security for hauliers in Northern France. We need to ensure our border remains in Calais and is not brought back to Dover. We need to keep working closely with the French Government to increase security. It would be a wrong turn to go back to the days of open borders where anyone could just wander into Britain. We need to be particularly wary not to encourage people to make dangerous journeys across Europe.

0 comments

Post a comment


28 JAN 2016

Local Apprentiships

It is fantastic news that even more young people in Dover and Deal have started apprenticeships. It is important that we create the opportunities that will mean more young people gain the skills they need to get on in life.

Latest figures show that 4,300 young people have started new apprenticeships in our area since May 2010. 270 young people have started apprenticeships locally over the past two months.

In the South East, 348,350 young people have started a apprenticeships, with 2.6 million new apprenticeship starts across the country.

High quality apprenticeships increase our young people's prospects of finding a good job and enjoying a more secure future. These figures bring us one step closer to full employment in Dover and Deal.

0 comments

Post a comment


28 JAN 2016

Poor Broadband in Dover & Deal

Figures from the House of Commons Library show that Dover and Deal is ranked at 509 out of 650 parliamentary constituencies for Superfast Broadband availability. Dover and Deal also only ranks at 436 for average download speed, with an average download speed of 24.1. Only 6% of connections in the constituency run at more than 2 Mbps.

Our broadband service in Dover and Deal is pitiful. BT's service is terrible. It's shocking that BT spent more on sports rights last year than investment in the exchange network. Businesses and individuals are increasingly reliant on a good internet connection to go about their day to day lives, so things need to change.

These figures underline the case that the exchanges should be separated from BT. The problem of course is that OFCOM is not very strong and the Competition authorities are too often a paper tiger. We need strong regulators who will do the right thing to promote competition, faster broadband roll out and swifter economic growth.

1 comment

It would be useful to know the geographically indicated areas of 'poor' 'average', 'good' broadband speed ? The same applies to certain mobile main providers too ? There was a time (still is ?) where television coverage was limited from the Dover mast while Belgian/French signals became the norm ! Have the days of unknowing mobile phone users connecting from near St Margaret's cliffs and being billed for a 'continental' call, been solved ? Is only the new build housing being upgraded to fibre broadband. Could the man made higher ground of Fowlmead contain at least one digital signal tower ? How can I quickly mobilize a digitally summoned police and ambulance as I watch an immigrant laden small boat approaching Deal prom under darkness as I sit on the bench, watch the clear stars and a passing Space Station ? Should I share my coffee flask and cooling chips ? !
- Laurence Burns

Post a comment


27 JAN 2016

Holocaust Memorial Day

Holocaust Memorial Day is an important opportunity to remember the victims and survivors of the Holocaust, and make sure they are not forgotten. This is why I signed the Holocaust Educational Trust Book of Commitment in Parliament to mark the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the site of the largest mass murder in history.

It is essential that we do not forget those who suffered and died, and that we also join together to fight against prejudice and intolerance in our community today in their memory.

1 comment

Well done! As always you are a compsssionate Member of Parliament with your finger on the pulse of Public Opinion and being a supporter of excellent causes both in the constituency and Parliament. HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL DAY is essential to educating us and future generations on the evils of Nazism and ethnic cleansing. On Holocaust memorial day we mourn the loss of people and their potential We mourn the loss of Jewish people, Romany Gypsies, people with Special needs, gay people and anyone who opposed Hitler and his evil tyranny. I once had the honour of Nursing a lovely gentleman who was incarcerated in Auschwitz. His crine? He was a Polish Law student opposing Hitler's Nazi regime. Makes you think. Also the Nazi Doctors experimented on pregnant Jewish and Gypsy women and those with Special needs or mental health issues.
- Tracy Wilton

Post a comment


21 JAN 2016

Unemployment continues to fall in Dover and Deal

It is great to see unemployment and youth unemployment continuing to fall in Dover and Deal.

Figures released by the ONS show that the number of people claiming Jobseeker's Allowance now stands at 1,157. This demonstrates a fall of 45% since May 2010 and 19% since this time last year.

Youth unemployment paints a similar picture, with the number of young claimants down to 275 – a 54% drop since Labour were in office.

More people in Dover and Deal are reaping the benefits of a regular pay packet and it is great to see hardworking families enjoy this security.

As the Labour Party hurtles from chaos to calamity, becoming ever more extreme, the Conservatives remain resolutely focused on sound management of our economy and achieving full employment and opportunity for all.

0 comments

Post a comment


15 JAN 2016

Services at Deal Hospital

It was fantastic to meet with Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust's Head of Clinical Services Nicola Osborne and Ward Manager Lesley Sloan, as well as local GP, Dr Sally Russell at Deal Hospital.

So many new services are being offered and there is now a fantastic range of specialised clinics operating out of the hospital. Deal Hospital now offers a Pain Clinic, Ear Nose Throat service, mental healthcare along with cardiac and diabetes care, along with a wide range of other clinics and services. The hospital also has a 26-bed ward and three palliative care beds.

As the hospital expands, new clinics are opening. These include a ground breaking consultant nurse lead Rheumatology Clinic which opened on 8 January. They also hope to open a Wound Clinic, while glaucoma services are provided by Biggs Opticians.

We discussed how the expanding services mean more staff are needed. So I hope nurses who live locally in Deal will think of working at Deal Hospital.

Congratulations are also due to Deal Hospital and its staff on its "good" Care Quality Commission rating. It is great to see so many clinics and services available in the heart of our community, right where they are needed.

0 comments

Post a comment


15 JAN 2016

Consultation Response to Highways England Managing Freight Vehicles through Kent: Future of TAP System

Further to my consultation response to Highways England: Managing Freight Vehicles through Kent, I set out in this separate response, my views on the future of the TAP system ("TAP") on the A20 at Dover.

TAP has been a real success in Dover. Since it was introduced in April 2015, TAP has gone a long way to reducing gridlock and congestion in the town centre. The system should become a permanent part of the management of freight vehicles through Kent.

 

TAP background

TAP was introduced as a temporary measure in April 2015 to ease gridlock in Dover.

TAP filters traffic into 2 lanes of the A20 outside Dover. When the Port is busy, freight traffic is held until Port entry can be made, while non-Port traffic is free to pass. There is a 40mph speed limit for some 6 miles on the Port-bound approach to Dover along the A20.

The Government's aim is to use this temporary period to collect and analyse traffic data to "achieve better traffic flows" for the area. Since its installation, TAP has been implemented some 137 times.

 

TAP future

TAP has proved successful in reducing freight congestion in Dover and has improved traffic flows. For this reason TAP should become a permanent feature of Dover's traffic management. That said, the system isn't perfect. There are improvements that need to be made. These are as follows:

 

  1. The 40mph speed restriction zone is too long. It should not be six miles, it should be no more than three miles at most and should start no further West than the Courtwood Junction.
  2. The 40mph speed restriction zone should be variable. It should only apply when TAP is implemented.
  3. The location of the TAP traffic control lights impacts adversely on the residents of the Aycliffe area of Dover. The lights should be moved some 200 yards to the West to a flat stretch of the A20 that will have less of an impact on residents.
  4. TAP is not implemented during Operation Stack. This should change as Dover suffers as a consequence when Operation Stack is implemented.
  5. TAP should have an ANPR system that should be used to make travel to the Port of Dover by the M20 mandatory. The use of the A2 for Port traffic has recently caused gridlock on the A2 Jubilee Way and caused Dover to be effectively cut off. This must change as it is very damaging to the local economy of Dover. A "No M20, No Port Entry" policy would free up the A2 and also stop lorries trying to sneak into the Port via the town.

 

Conclusion

TAP system has improved traffic flows through Dover. TAP should be made permanent and remain permanent even after the M20 Lorry Parks are built. Changes are needed to make improvements as detailed in this letter.

4 comments

FWIW sent this letter to local papers last week:- Readers fed up with the present speed limit on the A20 might be interested to hear that I spoke about this very matter to representatives of the Highways Agency only last week. I suggested that the imposition of the 40MPH limit on the A20 into Dover - supposedly as a safety measure to stop speeding drivers running into the back of the lorry queue the few times that we have Operation TAP - was causing much resentment locally. Motorists were being fined for exceeding the limit on days when the carriageways were completely clear, whilst others, keeping to this rather arbitrary speed limit, were being tail-gated by foreign registered lorries who knew they could flout the limits with impunity. Meanwhile many local drivers, myself included, were using the old A20 into Dover where we could keep up a much higher speed before clogging up the Folkestone Road with extra traffic. I suggested that the obvious solution was a variable speed limit which would only come into play when necessary i.e. when lorries were backed up onto the M20. He attempted to explain that the Highways Agency had not had the necessary technology (sic) and they also had to be mindful of what signage was put in so as not to ruin an Area Of Outstanding Natural Beauty (I kid you not). I told him that it was absolutely pathetic to think that in 2015 such 'advanced' technology was not available even if it involved a man in a van just going down the A20 and switching the signs 'on' when needed and that his organisation was an absolute joke. He assured me that Highways Agency are now on top of the matter and a variable speed limit should be in force by Easter. I can only presume that highly skilled technicians are installing on/off switches on the signs as I write. I am not holding my breath! Bob Frost (Cllr)
- Bob Frost

In principal, I'm in agreement with the TAP Future points raised - particularly item #2. The point I'd like to add, and what anyone's me most - also, is the impact and management of road side litter these lorry//freight drives... there is no, or insufficient - well planned clear up policy?
- StefanL - Deal

It also needs to have some method of enforcement of both the speed limit (with fines collected from foreign drivers at the port) and the lanes. Currently, there has to be a police officer on duty at the traffic lights to stop lorries from using the right-hand lane and divert them back to the end of the queue. I watched several vehicles being turned round yesterday and also saw several more merging into the front of the line when the lights changed to green, thus jumping a queue of a couple of miles. It would also make more sense for the port traffic to use the right-hand lane, freeing up the left-hand lane for local traffic joining and leaving the A20 at the Courtwood Interchange and the Aycliffe roundabout. Currently, the system requires local traffic to cross between trucks at Courtwood, where they often leave only a small gap. It would also mean that the coast-bound on-ramp would not need to be closed to cars. A more reliable method of stopping trucks from using the Folkestone Road to access the port through the town centre would be helpful - many of them do not heed the notices.
- Bill Beer

It will only work properly if all the traffic uses the M20. Even when TAP was active the A2 and Jubilee way were gridlocked. Also major problems in the town with freight wagons trying to avoid the M20 coming down Whitfield hill and Castle Hill. Some people and vehicles were stuck on Jubilee way fo mor than an hour
- Richard

Post a comment


15 JAN 2016

Working to repair rail line and cut delays

The failure of the sea wall at Dover has caused real challenges for our community. Rail journeys are longer. Travellers either have to go by bus to Folkestone or take a shuttle to Ramsgate.

Last week I met again with Network Rail and Southeastern Trains to hear about their plans to repair the railway and make sure people can get to work on time. It's clear that repairing the sea wall will be a big job and will take months to restore.

Network Rail are working on repairs and should be able to provide an estimate on how long the repairs will take in the next couple of weeks. Significantly they have successfully put in place "rock armour" to protect the existing sea wall. This will hopefully avoid the delay that would have been seen with a complete failure.

While the sea wall is being repaired, it is important to ensure that rail users can get to their destinations. It is particularly important that commuters can get to to their work places on time. So, from the outset, I have pressed Network Rail and Southeastern Trains to ensure that services are re-routed. Rail replacement buses now go direct from Dover, Deal and Walmer to Folkestone. At Folkestone the service joins with the fast train. There is also a shuttle service between Dover and Ramsgate via Deal. At Ramsgate the service joins with the fast train. Car parking at Folkestone West has also been made free.

There have however been challenges in the first week. First, communications with passengers have been poor. Secondly, the timing of replacement bus services, and indeed the actual arrival of some buses, was problematic. Thirdly, there were problems with the connection of the shuttle service to the fast train at Ramsgate.

I raised these problems with Southeastern when I met with them. They have been working to improve communications - especially on board communications where trains are late running. The problems with the bus service have also seen improvements. Buses now show up and they are making great effort to ensure that connections are maintained. Finally, delays on the shuttle service are being addressed and they are working to ensure the connection at Ramsgate is held.

Many rail users have asked if the Minster Loop can be used so services can go direct from Deal to Canterbury West. I have pressed Southeastern on this option and I know they are looking at what is possible.

I am seeking to hold a public meeting with Southeastern, Network Rail and commuters so travellers will be able to quiz rail chiefs directly. It is important everyone can share ideas on how services can be improved to make travelling easier while the sea wall is being repaired. I am doing all I can to ensure the sea wall at Dover is repaired as soon as possible and that the rerouted services are as fast as possible.

0 comments

Post a comment


12 JAN 2016

Consultation Response to Highways England: Managing Freight Vehicles through Kent

This is a response to Highways England's Managing Freight Vehicles through Kent consultation paper. I have studied the consultation document and set out my response and recommendations.

The problem

For too long congestion problems surrounding the Channel crossing at Dover have adversely affected residents and businesses.

The high volume of freight traffic crossing to and from Dover and the Channel Tunnel results in a high volume of rubbish and human waste being dumped into roadside verges and causes visual pollution.

This is exacerbated by the lack of cleaning and waste facilities. Congestion - whether due to weather, operational problems, security problems or industrial action – frequently leaves Dover in gridlock and stretches of the M20 out of action for days on end due to Operation Stack.

This has a negative impact on residents and the local economy. During the migrant crisis last summer, it was estimated that the Kent economy lost £1.5m for each day Operation Stack was in action. The UK economy as a whole was said to have lost £1 billion.

This problem is set to worsen. 2015 saw Operation Stack invoked for a record breaking 35 days. The volume of freight vehicles crossing the English Channel is increasing and the migrant crisis continues to put pressure on The UK's borders. Forecasts predict that the number of lorries will continue to climb.

Traffic volumes

Currently, 10,800 freight vehicles cross the Dover Straights every day. This figure is rising rapidly, with a 6% increase in volume recorded from Q3 2014-Q3 2015. Forecasts predict that freight volume in the area could double over the next decade. That would mean over 20,000 freight vehicles a day and the local infrastructure will struggle as it is not adequate for this volume of traffic.

Increased traffic already overwhelms lay-bys and other local resting areas for vehicles. This will inevitably see a rise in waste, inconvenience and damaged infrastructure where lorries are parked inappropriately. Such activity further demonstrates the need for a permanent area to house these freight vehicles.

Spending

In the 2015 Autumn Statement, the Chancellor announced £250 million funding to address the problems caused by Operation Stack.

The funding is intended for a lorry park to provide a permanent alternative to Operation Stack, seeing an end to the sporadic closure of the M20.

The Solution

Basic Needs

From the problems seen this summer to the forecasts set out, it is clear that a wide ranging solution is needed to address the problem of freight vehicles crossing the English Channel.

The Highways England consultation sets out four possible solutions to this problem at two possible locations.

These solutions seek to tackle the problem of Operation Stack on the M20, providing a permanent holding station and basic facilities for lorry drivers whilst they are stationed there. The proposed area could host lorries affected by Operation Stack, TAP congestion or general disruption whilst providing chargeable overnight parking and Truckstop services.

Suggested Proposals

Option 1: Emergency only

As its name suggests, Option 1 would see the new development in use solely during times when Operation Stack would be deployed. Lorries would not incur any upfront charges to use the area, but may be fined if they did not move on at the agreed time.

Basic welfare facilities (toilets, handwashing, water and waste disposal) would be complimentary and on site.

This should see infrequent (if rising) use of the area, but it should free up the entirety of the M20, unless under exceptional circumstances.

Option 2: General Disruption

Option 2 would accommodate vehicles in a variety of circumstances that would remove or reduce the need for the area's main disruptive traffic management systems: Operation Stack, TAP and/or any Eurotunnel queue management system.

This proposal includes all measures laid out in Option 1 and should see the freeing up of the M20 and other key local roads. Again, the lorries would incur no upfront costs.

Option 3: General Disruption and overnight Parking

The proposal of overnight parking is the first of two revenue generating ideas. Option 3 includes all measures laid out in Option 2, but also provides overnight space (outside times of emergency/disruption) for c.500 lorries.

Overnight parking seeks to address the growing problem of lorries parking inappropriately or 'fly-parking' in the surrounding area. However making it chargeable will mean that few will use it due to the cut-throat cost nature of the lorry freight drivers.

Option 4: General disruption and Truckstop

Option 4 encompasses all measures laid out in Options 1-3, but also includes a motorway service station, aimed at lorry drivers.

The service station, or "Truckstop", would function 24/7, 365 days a year and include basic welfare facilities alongside:

shower and washing facilities for lorry drivers;

hot drinks and food available for purchase and on-site consumption

Fuel would be provided on the (proposed) Stanford West site and possibly on the Junction 11 North site

Parking would be free for the first two hours and chargeable thereafter. This option should relieve pressure on the M20, cut the growing problem of ill-parked lorries and provide a useful service branch for lorry drivers.

Option 4 Plus: Mandatory parking

Option 4 is my preferred option. However, I believe it would be better if all lorries were required to stop at the park for advance check-in and sorting for travel by the Tunnel or the Port. The Tunnel/Port would then pay for the facility maintenance costs of the lorry park. This would ensure that vehicles could be sorted to avoid congestion at the M20/A20.

Proposed locations

In their consultation, Highways England have suggested two locations on either side of Junction 11 on the M20: Stanford West and Junction 11 North.

My preference is for the Stanford West site. Its location minimises the use and therefore disruption of local roads. It would have less of an environmental and visual impact on the local surroundings and it is equipped to deliver any/all of the functions proposed in Options 1–4.

Conclusion

It is my belief that Option 4 provides the highest value to lorry drivers and local residents, whilst combatting the issues caused by Operation Stack. I would add that Option 4 Plus should be considered.

Whilst consideration must be given to the impact this construction could have on neighbouring parks or service stations, I believe that getting the most for money is a good use of public funds. It is clear that Option 4 (and ideally 4 Plus) is the proposal that best offers this.

For the reasons stated above, should conclusions on economic and environmental sustainability come back positive, I support construction of Option 4's development on the Stanford West site, but believe Option 4 Plus should be considered as the most efficient method of cross-channel traffic management.

2 comments

very interested in your views, I to think option 4, and 4 plus are the only way forward, as some return has to to sought, I also believe that with the expected increase in freight crossing the channel, TAP has to become a perminent fixture, otherwise we would be back to square one. totally support your recommendations.
- ray williams

Its not only the operation stack that causes lorry problems we get them parking in Coombe valley Rd Dover every night and weekends causing us problems with rubbish and human waste , parking on pavements and being a nuisance with the speed they travel and the noise and times they pass our houses . I thought it was illegal to park overnight in residential streets ?????
- smurphy

Post a comment


10 JAN 2016

Deal Festival New Year Party

It was great to catch up with the team who organise the Deal Festival for their New Year party. The events they have planned so far for this year sound really exciting.

The Deal Festival is one of the highlights of Deal's social calendar. It showcases the best of our town and local talent. I urge anyone who might be interested to find out more about getting involved in this years festival.

0 comments

Post a comment


08 JAN 2016

Dover Christ Church Academy

It was great to be able to visit Dover Christ Church Academy again now all of their new buildings have opened. I enjoyed hearing from students what impact the new facilities have had on their learning. They described the new rooms as a much better environment to work in, full of natural light. Thank you to Head Boy Daniel Holness and Head Girl Dianna Banks for giving me a tour.

The school's new art department was particularly impressive. The quality of the students work on display is a credit to the school.

It was also great to talk to 6th form students about their future career plans. We also discussed recent changes in Dover such as the new Buckland Hospital and the demolition of Burlington House.

0 comments

Post a comment


08 JAN 2016

Making the case for commuters

I have met again with Southeastern to see the replacement bus service from Folkestone West to Dover Priory. I listened to travellers tell me about their travel experiences using the service. Replacement buses are running from Deal, Walmer and Dover so passengers can join the High Speed line at Folkestone. Around 1,000 journeys are being made by local people from Folkestone West every day.

The High Speed service is vital to our community. It was important to meet again with Southeastern and Network Rail, not only for an update on repairing the line, but to press the importance of making passengers disrupted journeys as smooth as possible. The services need to connect effectively and they need to see if the Minster Loop can be used.

I have been receiving lots of feedback every day from constituents whose journeys have been affected on what could be done better to help them reach their destinations. I communicated to Southeastern the importance of keeping passengers informed of up to the minute changes.

0 comments

Post a comment


08 JAN 2016

Deal Hospital League of Friends

I enjoyed the chance to catch up with Maureen and Doris at Deal Hospital to discuss the work they do with the League of Friends. They do incredible fundraising work to support the Hospital.

The League of Friends run the hospital tea shop, as well as holding fund raising events such as the annual Deal Hospital Summer Fete to fund extra items and facilities the hospital needs. The League of Friends has also raised the money to fund 3 hospice beds at the hospital.

The League of Friends need more volunteers to get involved. They play a key part in providing five star healthcare for our community. Getting involved is a great opportunity to support our hospital. So do get in touch with them and get involved as a volunteer.

0 comments

Post a comment


02 JAN 2016

Working hard to get our railway back on track

The failure of the sea wall by the Dover to Folkestone railway line on Christmas Eve will cause months of disruption for rail users. I am doing all I can to ensure the repairs are carried out as quickly as possible.

Ensuring the stability of the sea wall is essential. So it's hard to understand how this could have happened. There should be regular inspection and maintenance on an exposed section like this. Nearby residents have told me that the level of shingle has been falling all year and the footings have been exposed for some time. So I am pressing Network Rail on the inspection and maintenance record - especially after what happened at Dawlish.

The bigger question is how long the repairs will take. This is not a small sea wall failure. It looks like some 200m of sea wall has failed and will need repair. This is a very big project. So already I am making the case to Network Rail and the Rail Minister that the repairs need to be carried up as quickly as possible.

The sea wall failure does not just affect Dover. It also has a serious impact on Deal and the Dover villages. Deal has benefitted from the fast train we fought so hard to get. It is a town with many commuters and fast train visitors who have boosted the local economy and helped Deal to enjoy more success. The sea wall failure will mean that services from Deal will be slower.

I am very conscious how difficult this will make life for rail users. I am doing all I can to hurry the repairs. Yet I am also discussing with Southeastern Trains and Network Rail whether fast services can go from Deal using the Manston Loop. This would reduce lost time but will be a real timetable challenge to make work.

A number of people have been in contact with their ideas on what can be done. Do please email me with your ideas too. I would particularly like to hear from season ticket holders to explore what particular measures can be done to help them from train rerouting to ride sharing.

I know how important it is to ensure these problems are worked on swiftly as most rail users will go back to work next week and I want to ensure a clear plan is in place by then. Not withstanding that we are trying to put a plan together over the Christmas period when many people in the rail industry are also away.

The failure of the sea wall on the Dover to Folkestone stretch of railway is a real worry. Yet I am doing all I can to get to fixed as soon as possible. I am doing all I can to see rail services rerouted and working hard to minimise the impact on rail travellers. The next few months will be very testing. Yet with good planning ahead I hope that it will be as quick as possible and that travellers will suffer the least possible disruption.

3 comments

Keep on top of it Charlie. You & the diligent Nigel Collor are pushing hard. Pity South Eastern can't get their Dover-Ramsgate shuttle to marry up with Ramsgate -St Pancras timetable.
- Maggie Kennedy

Whilst it goes without saying that the Manston Loop should be used where possible (and they really ought to marry up their timetables) please bear in mind that that route is pretty much zero use to people in Dover and highly sub-optimal, to say the least, for people in Deal. The overriding priority must be to get the line fixed as early as possible. As far as I can tell the Dawlish line took less than 2 months to fix. Can we expect to see a similar degree of urgency with our line?
- James Gee

I'm not sure whether you can bring any influence but 3 days into our return to work 3 of my 5 train journeys (Dover to/from Stratford Int) have been disrupted over and above the need to catch buses. This morning and yesterday the early morning trains were held up due to another train occupying the platform at Folkestone Central which left 20 minutes late yesterday and nearly 15 minutes late today. We were told this train was being delayed, but with no reason given. There is very little shelter at Folkestone Central and the platform was packed with people (getting soaked yesterday). Also the timing of bus services to Folkestone to connect with a service has resulted in several trains full of people using a single service, with passengers standing at Folkestone, The delays in the morning were compounded with a horrendous journey home last night, which entailed catching a train from Stratford which then sat at Ashford for sometime, having been told they were waiting for a driver from another service to arrive. We were then told as there was no available driver the train was being cancelled. As they had already cancelled the following high speed train we had a 40 minute delay at Ashford to get to Folkestone, at which point onward travelers still needed to get buses. A train was due to arrive with a driver, and I suspect that had the train then left it would have been late going back out the other way affecting performance percentages, but given the current situation surely the impact on customers should be taken into account? The delay was compounded by the fact that buses are running to some sort of timetable, but aren't necessarily meeting trains, which I do not understand at all (if it is a rail replacement service shouldn't a bus be there ready to meet trains?) If you are able to raise these issues with Southeastern it would be greatly appreciated, as, apart from the bus issue the information being given to customers and service continuity is very poor - there should be buses to take you to the station, and you should then be able to board a train immediately. All these issues are within their control. Thanks in advance for any influence you might be able to bring to bear.
- Jackie Childs

Post a comment


21 DEC 2015

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

As we approach Christmas I'd like to wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. The Christmas break is a great time to take stock of the year that has passed. So much has happened in our community: Burlington House is coming down, the new Dover Buckland Hospital has opened its doors and the A20 TAP system has done much to spare Dover gridlock. Most recently, the Chancellor has announced £250m of funding for the M20 lorry parks we have needed and wanted for so long.

This time last year all these improvements looked very distant prospects. It did not look like Burlington House would be demolished any time soon. We had waited for a decade and we looked set to wait longer still. Yet now the building is coming down and it is noticeable how the Dover skyline has changed.

The Buckland Hospital was still being built this time last year. Now it is open and providing a modern, purpose built healthcare environment. It has made a great difference already and is saving unnecessary journeys to Ashford and Margate. I am making the case for a health village around the hospital so that we can provide care in our community for those in need close to home.

Last Winter and into the Spring, Dover suffered from gridlock as port traffic increased while the road infrastructure could not cope. I held debates in the House of Commons to press Ministers to find a solution to this problem, which resulted in the TAP system being installed. This has made a great improvement to the town. However, there is a strong case for the traffic lights to be moved West away from Aycliffe so residents there can get a good night's sleep. And the 40 mph limit should be made variable.

Another great development is the funding of the much needed M20 lorry parks by the Chancellor in the Autumn Statement. The consultation on this has already started. It is really important that everyone in Dover & Deal takes part in the consultation and makes the case for the TAP system to continue and a lorry park with all year round parking and a truckstop. We need to put an end to lay-bys being full of lorries, our verges being churned up and the quite disgusting roadside mess many lorry drivers leave behind. This is a real opportunity to make our roads cleaner, nicer and tidier places. It will also protect our economy and provide a permanent alternative to Operation Stack.

It has been a year when much has been achieved, but we cannot rest on our laurels. 2016 will bring further challenges, but great satisfaction when we face these together as a community and succeed.

Have a really great Christmas and I wish you all a Happy and Healthy New Year.

0 comments

Post a comment


18 DEC 2015

Deal Royal Mail Delivery Office

I really enjoyed the chance to meet some of our local postal workers at Royal Mail's Deal Delivery Office to hear about the work they do. They work so incredibly hard at this time of year to make sure we can all enjoy the festive period.

I was taken around the delivery office by Delivery Office Manager Patricia Moore. We discussed the different challenges of delivering to rural and built up areas.

We all rely on our local Royal Mail teams not just at Christmas, but all year around to get us our letters and parcels on time. I would like to thank all of our local postmen and women for everything they do all year.

0 comments

Post a comment


18 DEC 2015

Dover Lifeboat

It was fantastic to catch up with the team of staff and volunteers at the Dover Lifeboat. They do such incredible work saving lives at sea. It is inspiring to hear how most of the crew is staffed by volunteers.

I was taken on a tour of the boathouse and the Dover Lifeboat by Lifeboat Captain Simon Moore and Coxwain and mechanic James Clapham. They told me about the types of rescue challenges faced covering the English Channel, and about how the RLNI are increasing their focus on educating the public to help prevent marine incidents.

Thank you to everyone at Dover Lifeboat and the RLNI for being there to rescue lives at sea. I hope everyone will do all they can to support the RNLI and the Dover Lifeboat in their critical work. They rely on donations from the public to operate. Public support is essential to cover the cost of their operations each year.

0 comments

Post a comment


11 DEC 2015

Small businesses drive our economy

Last weekend's Small Business Saturday was a great opportunity to celebrate our local businesses. Small local businesses matter as they provide 6 out of 10 jobs.

Last year I visited businesses in Dover to hear how they were finding the trading environment. Back then things were still just picking up. This year I visited businesses in Deal High Street. It's clear our recovery is now being really felt by businesses. They told me that the inflation busting wage rises and higher numbers of people in work are now making a real difference.

Last years Small Business Saturday saw over 16 million people go out to support small businesses and over £500 million was spent with small businesses. Hundreds of businesses up and down the land took part. It was great news that Dover District Council also supported the day with free parking across the district.

This campaign has also taken hold among Parliamentarians. Over 200 MPs support the campaign, including the Prime Minister, the Business Secretary and the Chancellor of the Exchequer. This is welcome as big business has more lobbying resources and Small Business Saturday is a powerful reminder that small businesses are the job creators. Over 1 million new jobs were created by small business over the past decade. While big businesses did not create many at all. What's more today's small businesses are tomorrow's big businesses. Backing the small business entrepreneurs means more jobs, more innovation and more world class businesses in the future.

In Deal I visited the Black Douglas which provides great food and super coffee. Dalziel Douglas runs the most delightful establishment which is packed with regulars and tourists alike. Blind Illusions run up curtains, blinds and brilliant plantation shutters. They may be based on Deal yet they do work all over the country. While the furniture, candles and Christmas gifts at Beach Furniture in the High Street is well worth a visit. The array of candles there is quite breathtaking while they provide everything from Christmas baubles to very comfortable sofas you can sink right into.

Deal High Street is just such a gem. It is rightly celebrated as the best in the land. The fast train now sweeps into Deal every hour of every day and this has clearly made a huge difference to the vitality and energy seen in the High Street. Yet so too have the small businesses. It is the energy and sense of purpose of our local businesses that has led to the transformation of Deal. Deal is a town on the rise. It is no wonder the town is increasingly hailed as the new Whitstable.

It's impressive to see how well small businesses are doing in Dover and Deal. They are the innovators and the job creators. They are the major local employers and I will continue to do all I can to support them in Parliament.

0 comments

Post a comment


05 DEC 2015

Damage To Public Byways

Along with members of the White Cliffs Ramblers, I went to see the damage that has been done to public byways near Guston by off-road drivers.

The deep ruts in the mud created by 4x4's and other vehicles have filled with water. In some places, this has caused the path to become unpassable for dog walkers, ramblers and cyclists.

I will be raising this issue with the Environment Secretary Elizabeth Truss. It seems to me that rules of access for public byways open to all traffic need to change.

1 comment

These are footpaths and bridleways and motorised vehicles should not have access to them.
- Edmond Rube

Post a comment


05 DEC 2015

St. Margaret's Christmas Lights

It was incredible to see so many people turn out to switch on the Christmas lights in St. Margaret's this year. There was a real feeling of community spirit. It was a festive afternoon out for the whole family. Curry tasting was on offer along with mince pies and mulled wine. The face painting, Minion and Frozen characters delighted the children.

Thank you to Mr and Mrs Surean at the village corner shop for all of their hard work putting together such a wonderful event.

0 comments

Post a comment


04 DEC 2015

Gomez Fruit Facility

It was fascinating to visit Gomez's facility just off the A2. With the highest technology, they store, naturally ripen, pack, process and distribute an impressive range of fruit and vegetables, ready for sale across the country.

Operating since 1955, Gomez is independently owned, 86% by its fruit and vegetable growers in Southern Spain. Gomez currently employs over 500 permanent staff, and has plans to expand operations onto additional land it has recently purchased for development.

I was impressed to hear how the business has steadily been growing year on year, and I look forward to visiting again soon to hear more about their expansion plans.

Gomez do so much to support the local community, from sponsoring Dover Athletic FC to visiting local schools to talk to the children about field to fork food production and to help promote a healthy diet of fruit and vegetables.

0 comments

Post a comment


04 DEC 2015

Dover Royal Mail Delivery Office

It's impressive to see the effort and dedication the team at Royal Mail's Dover delivery office put in to make sure everyone receives their Christmas post each year.

I was given a tour of the office by Delivery Office Manager Elly Scott. It was great to chat with the postmen and women who look after our local delivery routes.

Postal workers do such an important job. Not just during this busy period, but all year around ensuring we get our post in good time. I would like to thank the Dover team for their hard work throughout the year.

0 comments

Post a comment


04 DEC 2015

Dover Food Bank

It was great to have the opportunity to meet with the Dover Food Bank volunteers to hear about all the wonderful work they and their volunteers have been doing this year.

The Tesco Neighbourhood Food Collection, in conjunction with The Trussell Trust and FareShare is a great initiative. It helps to support families in need so that they can get back on their feet.

Across the country, customers in Tesco stores helped provide 3.6 million meals to people in need over the Summer. The supermarket has pledged a 30% top up donation to the items donated by customers.

I urge everyone to just pick a few items from the list of things the food bank really need when you're doing your shopping. Supporting the work of the Dover Food Bank makes a real difference to people in need.

0 comments

Post a comment


04 DEC 2015

St. Margaret's-at-Cliffe Primary School Christmas Fair

Discussing life in Parliament at St. Margaret's-at-Cliffe Primary School was a highlight of my week. They asked me about Parliamentary debates and why I became an MP. They also asked how I felt about the vote for Britain to take part in Syria last Wednesday.

After talking with the children about life in Parliament, I was delighted to open the school Christmas fair. The fair well attended by staff, pupils and parents, giving everyone at the school the opportunity to celebrate the school's recent achievements, including an 'outstanding' rating in their most recent Ofsted inspection.

0 comments

Post a comment


04 DEC 2015

Constituency Christmas Card

I asked children from local primary schools to enter a competition to design my local Christmas card. Eight local schools entered the competition, and the entries were judged by Dover's Mayor Chris Precious, Deal's Mayor Adrian Friend along with the Chairman of Dover District Council Sue Chandler. All local state primary schools were asked if they wanted to participate.

Sophia Moses, 6, from Eastry Church of England Primary School had her card chosen as the winning design. The three runners up; Kiki Dempsey, 9, from Priory Fields School, Eleanor Williams, 10, from Vale View Primary School and Alfie Holloway, 5, from The Downs Church of England Primary School have their designs printed on the back of my card.

There were so many brilliant designs entered into the competition this year, the judges really had their work cut out. However, Sophia, Kiki, Eleanor and Alfie's cards really stood out. I'm looking forward to sending out Sophia's design locally with my Christmas message this year.

I want to thank everyone who put such hard work in entering such wonderful designs into the competition, and to our Deal and Dover Mayors, along with the Chairman of Dover District Council for taking the time to act as judges.

0 comments

Post a comment


04 DEC 2015

£250m investment to end Operation Stack

It is fantastic news that the Chancellor announced in the Autumn Statement £250m to be invested in building lorry parks on the M20 so that Operation Stack will no longer be needed, and gridlock in our town can be eased.

These lorry parks need to work in tandem with the Dover TAP system, and have an advance check-in system to manage lorry traffic so that instead of ploughing into Dover whether the Port is ready to receive them or not, lorries would have to check-in and only travel on towards our town when there is space for them.

A lot of constituents have been contacting me not only about the traffic problems on Dover roads, but about illegally parked HGV's obstructing our main roads and rural villages. Designated lorry parks will also help tackle the problem of lorries parking where they shouldn't.

2 comments

The use of lorry parks must be mandatory otherwise foreign HGVs will still use inappropriate and dangerous verges and slip roads. Once again I suggest the price for a redeemable voucher for lorry parking be added to ferry ticket . There must also be more than one so that HGVs approaching the Port have access to a lorry park whichever rout they choose to use.
- Cllr Mog Ovenden

Foreign lorry drivers park where they want because they know the Police will not fine them or move them on. Why not use the same system as France. You park up you pay the fine there and then, Police take you to a cash point or you use a credit card. It stopped it there. We have ANPR cameras at the ports. Use them. If a ticket is issued the registration is logged immediately if it is not paid prior to departure the fine is double, Dover Port Police act taking half the fine. Self funding.
- Tony

Post a comment


27 NOV 2015

Take extra care on Winter's roads

As we enter winter and temperatures drop we need to take more care on the roads. The days are shorter and freezing weather will make the roads increasingly treacherous.

We need to ensure our local roads are safer. Figures released recently by the Department for Transport are deeply concerning. They show there was a 12% rise in traffic accidents in Dover and Deal between 2009 and 2014. There was a steady rise in serious and fatal accidents over the five year period. Progress towards casualty reduction is 20% lower than the national average.

This is not good enough. It is very disappointing there is such a poor safety record on our roads. Particularly as the Government has provided Kent with £6.3 million in special grants to resurface roads and repair potholes. People feel that East Kent is the poor relation - they believe money goes to West Kent, while we don't seem to get the same investment in our area. These road safety figures make it clear that things have to change. Kent highways' record on road safety is not good enough and urgent action is needed to improve the situation.

Christmas means bad weather. Trees will fall over - as happened on the A258 last weekend. This closed the road and led to massive delays with every small country lane nearby being choked up with traffic. Kent Highways need to be on top of that. We will also see more ice on the roads. I am also deeply concerned by how many complaints I get about roads with poor drainage. This is dangerous and contributes to the lack of safety on our roads. Many constituents tell me they are worried about how poor the drainage is local roads.

Urgent action is now needed from Kent Highways not only to improve our roads and cut down vegetation, but to improve road drainage too. Effective action will help save lives.

Finally we need to encourage safer driving. Prosecutors don't always throw the book at drivers who kill people on our roads. They agree plea bargains for the lower careless driving offence. I am in discussion with MPs about those who kill on the roads who are pleading guilty to careless driving. It matters because the maximum sentence is 5 years - which is then reduced by 30% for a guilty plea. Thereafter only half the sentence is served so guilty drivers can serve just two years. This leaves the families of those tragically killed often feeling cheated of justice. The Sentencing Council is looking at this and I will be monitoring developments closely.

We need to ensure drivers who kill face tough sentences and that our roads get the investment they need. Yet the greatest change to our accident figures will come from all of us taking extra care to drive as safely as we can over Christmas and the winter months.

0 comments

Post a comment


26 NOV 2015

Local Apprenticeships

It's encouraging to see more and more young people taking advantage of apprenticeships to get the skills and experience they need. Figures released by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills that show 900 local young people have started apprenticeships in the last year. A total of 4,030 young people have started apprenticeships in Dover and Deal since 2010.

Across the South East there has been an 8% rise in new apprenticeship starts, with 65,000 young people starting apprenticeships in 2014/15. Over 2.4 million apprenticeships were started across the country in the last Parliament.

Apprenticeships help people succeed in the workplace in jobs that will provide financial stability and security for their futures.

Youth unemployment in Dover and Deal has fallen dramatically, and it's clear that the new apprenticeships that have been created over the past few years have helped train young people to fill more of the skilled jobs in our area.

0 comments

Post a comment


20 NOV 2015

Dover Soup Kitchen

I joined volunteers from the Dover Soup Kitchen and St. Paul's Catholic Church to help serve hot meals and drinks to people in need from Pencester Road car park so that I could see the fantastic work they do first hand. Dover Soup Kitchen matters to our community. It is important that we offer the help the most vulnerable in our society and support people to make positive changes in their lives.

Dover Soup Kitchen was founded in 1991 to provide free meals, hot drinks, clothes and bedding in Dover Town Centre at 6pm every evening to the homeless, vulnerable and those otherwise in need. Over 150 volunteers work on rotation to staff each session, as well as to buy and prepare all of the food they serve up.

It is wonderful to see such a committed group of volunteers come together to give to the community. Thank you to everyone who gives their time to support such a worthy cause.

0 comments

Post a comment


20 NOV 2015

Time to take on the terrorists

We all sat in shock as we watched the terrible news from Paris unfold on our TV screens last Friday. It became increasingly clear that this not just a monstrous attack on our civilisation. It was carefully planned with at least three separate teams of terrorists striking at the same time.

These indiscriminate murderous attacks took place when people were enjoying a normal Friday night out. Watching football, attending a concert and going for a meal out. These are the targets of ISIL - innocent civilians out enjoying leisure time.

Dover is our closest town to France. We see Calais across the waves from the white cliffs. The French are our neighbours, friends and trading partners. Today, as never before, we stand shoulder to shoulder with France and everyone who lost loved ones in this horrific atrocity.

Talk has quickly turned to how we should respond and the threat here in Britain. We need to work ever more closely with France to ensure that our borders are kept safe and secure.

French anti terrorist police raided a hotel at Calais after the attacks in Paris. This is not some far away event. It is close by. Security has been tightened at all of our borders, including at the Port of Dover. We too must do our bit - to be vigilant and to support our border officers in all they do to protect us and to keep us safe.

These attacks have also turned the spotlight on EU open borders. Events have shown how important it is that Britain's border controls stay in Calais so terrorists and criminals can't just wander into Britain.

There are calls for the UK to join France in air strikes against ISIL. We have to defeat ISIL and the terrorists. I believe it would be right for us to take whatever action is necessary to achieve this. Our safety and security depends on degrading and destroying ISIL.

New funding will be provided for an additional 1,900 officers at MI5, MI6 and GCHQ. We are making air travel more secure too.

We must remember that it is not all Muslims who seek to attack us. It is a small group who use Islam to justify their evil aims. We must stand united against them and seek to unite all the communities of our nation against those who preach hate and seek to murder.

Our intelligence services are working day and night to make sure that we are kept safe and secure. Protecting the British people is our top priority. We must be resolute and determined in the face of those who seek to kill us and destroy the values we hold dear. Yet most of all we now need to act to confront ISIL - and to defeat them and their evil terrorist state.

0 comments

Post a comment


20 NOV 2015

Long-term unemployment falls in Dover & Deal

It is fantastic to hear that long-term unemployment has fallen in Dover and Deal.

The latest jobs figures released last week show that over the last 12 month period, the number of people claiming unemployment benefit in Dover and Deal has fallen by 28%, with almost 400 fewer people requiring out of work support. There is also good news for 16-24 year olds, where youth unemployment is down by over a third.

Unemployment in Dover & Deal is now down 55% since 2010 to 1,021. Youth unemployment is now down 66% since 2010 to 2014.

National employment is at a record-breaking 73.7% and with wages increasing by 3 per cent, we are helping more people than ever rise out of Labour's unemployment trap.

With every month the country gets closer to reaching our goal of full employment. More jobs and people with the security of a regular pay packet and less welfare is my priority. I'm committed to seeing more people in Dover & Deal able to build a brighter future for themselves and their families.

0 comments

Post a comment


14 NOV 2015

Local Christmas Markets

I had such a great morning visiting some of the great Christmas markets that have been popping up in the run up to the Festive Season. I visited Deal and Capel-Le-Ferne to chat to sellers and buy some Christmas cards.

Cards for Good Causes and other festive items were being sold at the Landmark Centre in aid of Cancer Care, and villagers in Capel-Le-Ferne opened up their village hall for a Kent Craft Christmas Market, selling handmade gifts from local crafters, as well as providing refreshments and a tombola to raise funds for the village hall.

We have so many talented producers and crafters in our area. It is important that we support small, local businesses - especially when they are supporting great causes - when we're out doing our Christmas shopping. Thank you to everyone who put their hard work and energy into putting together such fantastic events events this weekend.

0 comments

Post a comment


13 NOV 2015

Temple Ewell Primary School

Temple Ewell Primary School is a great example of an outstanding local school. It is deeply impressive that they have achieved 100% literacy. This is a goal that all schools in our area should strive for.

It was also welcome to hear that their hard work and dedication have been recognised by The Schools Guide, who have ranked them as the top school in the district. I was incredibly impressed by the work I saw pupils doing when I visited their classes on a tour of the school.

During my tour, I also discussed with Executive Headteacher Jo Hygate and Head of School Angela Matthews the future of the school's temporary buildings and mobile classrooms, and how newer, better classrooms would really help the children in their learning and development in what already is a great school environment.

0 comments

Post a comment


13 NOV 2015

Cherished Gowns

I found it incredibly moving to hear about the wonderful work Cherished Gowns have been doing to support parents who have suffered such a terrible loss.

Cherished Gowns for Angel Babies UK, is a Dover based group of volunteers up and down the country who make gowns out of donated wedding dresses for stillborn babies. It is really amazing how quickly their group has grown with volunteers giving up their time, and how much thought and care that is put into every single pack that is sent out to grieving parents. Cherished Gowns have around 500 volunteers sewing gowns and knitting booties, hats and blankets.

Cherished Gowns was started in October 2014 to help support bereaved parents by offering them clothing to dress their stillborn babies in for burial, as most stillborns are too small for regular baby clothing. Packs of their gowns are now available to parents in 70 hospitals across Britain.

Around 17 babies are stillborn or die shortly after birth in Britain every day, and around 1,000 unfortunately did not make it in Kent alone last year.

I am going to do everything I can to support Cherished Gowns in their effort to get hospital space and to support and improve provisions for bereaved and grieving parents during such a difficult time. They are running their first community volunteer day on November 22, so if you have a moment to head over to help them iron gowns, match booties and pack boxes, your help would be greatly appreciated.

0 comments

Post a comment


06 NOV 2015

Tilmanstone Salads

I found the opportunity to tour Tilmanstone Salads who create 750 of our local jobs to hear about all of the in house opportunities they provide for their staff really encouraging.

It is incredibly impressive that they provide all of the packed salads for Marks & Spencer up and down the country from their factory. In addition, there is an on-site food development team dedicated to new Marks & Spencer products. The 22 acre site, which the company has been based at since 2001, is operational 24 hours a day, 363 days a year. The site produces up to 70 different fresh products a day, totalling up to 1,650,000 packs of fresh produce a week.

As well as touring the production site, I heard about the support provided for workers at the factory including a staff training centre, weekly visits from an in-house physio and a range of company backed initiatives including family fun days and staff charity fundraising efforts.

I'm looking forward to seeing how the business and local job opportunities grow with the £3.1 million they have invested in their factory this year.

0 comments

Post a comment


06 NOV 2015

Canterbury Christ Church University Careers

I found it really interesting to discuss future career plans with Canterbury Christ Church University students. I took part in two careers sessions; a group discussion with disabled students, and a session as part of the universities final year Politics and International Relations Employability Day.

I was particularly interested to hear about how adjustments can be made to help disabled students in the workplace. It is important that we support our future graduates with the advice, guidance and shared expertise they need to successfully find their footing in the world of work.

0 comments

Post a comment


06 NOV 2015

Tackling childhood obesity and seeking ambulances we can trust

Over the last five years we have come a long way to securing a fairer share of healthcare in Dover & Deal. The next stage is to ensure we have five star healthcare. This is not just about hospitals and care beds. It's also about better public health, mental healthcare and ambulances we can trust.

Back in 2010 Dover's Buckland Hospital had been decimated for a decade. Wards had been axed axed one by one. Deal Hospital was left teetering on the edge. Fast forward to 2015 and a new state of the art Buckland Hospital has opened. Deal Hospital has been saved from closure. We now have a one stop shop for outpatient care.

Yet we also need great public health and reliable emergency services. So news this week that South East Coast Ambulance Trust had decided to put all 111 calls to the bottom of the pile as an automatic policy was deeply concerning. It is claimed that some 25 people may have died unnecessarily as a result of this policy.

The health regulator Monitor has condemned the Trust. It is clear to me it is shocking and unacceptable. When we call for an ambulance, we expect help to arrive straightaway when we need it. This is not good enough.

Public health is also a worry. Statistics released this week show that schoolchildren in Town and Pier ward have been found to be the most obese in the country. 56% are overweight or obese. There are concerns elsewhere in the district too. I have written to all primary schools in Dover to ask them why they think Dover children are more likely to be overweight and what might be done about it. I have also asked health chiefs for their observations as these figures are a real concern.

Good health for life begins in childhood. It's critical we educate children and parents on how to eat healthily. Healthy eating choices make for a balanced diet, better nutrition and less obesity. We also need to ensure a lifelong culture of exercise starts in childhood. That's why school sport matters. Studies show that the more exercise a child gets, the happier and more confident they are. This is how we boost our young people's chances in life and give them the best possible start.

It's also important we teach cooking skills too for the same reason. Less junk food and more good old fashioned cooking makes for a healthier and longer life.

Physical health is important but mental health matters too. Recently I invited members of Talk it Out, a support group for those that suffer from mental health or care for those with mental health illness, to Parliament. I hosted a discussion with representatives from the mental health charity Mind, and with the Mental Health Minister. Talk it Out were able to find out about more support locally and discuss what can be done to improve care locally.

Children and young people's physical and mental health is a key priority for this Government. £1.25bn will be invested in mental health over the next five years to improve services.

We need excellent healthcare at all levels. That's what five star healthcare is all about. Better public health, stronger mental health services, ambulances we can trust, the local care beds we need and first rate local hospitals. These are all essential to make sure our community is cared for in the best possible way.

0 comments

Post a comment


05 NOV 2015

Lorry Parks are a permanent solution to Operation Stack

Along with a delegation of Kent MP's, I've met with Chancellor George Osborne to press for action on Operation Stack. I made the case for building a lorry park on the M20 as a permanent solution to the problem.

The plan would include additional land purchase and road infrastructure would cost over £100 million. Central Government funding and the Chancellor's support is therefore required.

The lorry parks should work effectively with the Dover Anti-gridlock TAP system, and include an advanced check in system for lorries. Lorries would not be able to plough into Dover whether the Port is ready to receive them or not.

The Summer chaos cost Britain £1Bn and brought the whole of Kent to a standstill. We cannot have that happen again. Building a lorry park on the M20 is the obvious and most practical long term solution.

1 comment

No need to create a lorry park. Save our money by stacking lorries as before, but leaving one lane for cars. Many more portaloos would be needed and health checks regularly made on lorry drivers in the queue. This may be what the drivers would prefer as they would no longer fear losing their place in the queue .
- Martin Tourret

Post a comment


05 NOV 2015

Tackling Childhood Obesity

I am gravely concerned that figures released by Public Health England show that Town and Pier ward in Dover has the highest rate of overweight and obese children in the country. Other areas have concerning levels of obesity too.

I have written to all schools in the area, as well as local Doctors and public health chiefs to start a conversation about what can be done to reverse this worrying trend. We need schools and health chiefs to work together and see what action can be taken. I plan to take the ideas and feedback I get on what can be done to tackle this issue to the Education and Health Secretaries.

Tackling childhood obesity is a major priority. Improving our children's education on how to make healthy lifestyle choices is just one of the ways we can work to tackle this issue. However, I do not think that a sugar tax is the answer. I worry that a sugar tax will hit the poorest families hardest. That's why I sense we should focus on education and exercise.

0 comments

Post a comment


30 OCT 2015

Families will be better off after our tax reforms

Tax credit reform has been at the top of the political agenda for the past week. I have received many emails from residents about the reforms. So I am setting out more detail on the reforms and the plan for a higher wage, lower welfare economy.

We have to live within our means as a nation. At the election the Government set out plans to save £12 billion in welfare spending. It's not wise to spend more, tax more and borrow more. It would wreck our economic recovery here in Dover & Deal and across the nation as a whole. That is why we have to make savings and have been looking to reform the tax credit system. However we must look after the people who have helped drive recovery – people who work hard, are responsible citizens and do the best for their families.

I have listened carefully to all the concerns that have been raised. It is really important that there is a gentler transition to reducing welfare and increasing take home pay. A slower pace of change was planned ahead of the House of Lords taking an interest in the matter this week.

Reforming tax credits is part of a much wider package of reform so people are paid more money in wages and lose less in taxes. This is why we are introducing a new National Living Wage of £7.20 an hour in 2016. This rises to £9 an hour by 2020, at which point someone currently working full time on Minimum Wage will be £5,200 a year better off. It will directly benefit 2.7 million people who are currently paid less than £7.20 an hour and a further 3.25 million people will benefit as employers increase wages. This will be a massive boost to low paid workers here in Dover & Deal.

The Government is also increasing the personal allowance (the amount of money you can earn before you pay income tax). In 2010 it was less than £6,500. By 2020, it will be £12,500. This means a typical taxpayer will be paying £1,205 less a year and millions of low paid people will no longer pay any income tax.

It's also important that we help parents with the cost of childcare. From 2017 there will be 30 hours of free childcare for working parents of three and four year-olds worth up to £2,000 a year.

After taking into account all of the welfare and tax changes most families will be better off by the end of this Parliament. For example a lone parent with one child, working 35 hours on the National Minimum Wage, will see income increased by £1,550. A couple working 35 hours a week on the Minimum Wage with two children will have income increased by £5,570.

We've come a long way together over the last five years. Unemployment has fallen dramatically. Wages are rising. We are helping the least well off to get paid better and taxed less. Less welfare, more work, and bigger pay rises are the way to ensure we continue see more jobs and money here in Dover & Deal.

0 comments

Post a comment


23 OCT 2015

My campaign to secure the jobs of officers at Dover Immigration Removal Centre

The news that Dover Immigration Removal Centre is set to close has been a real shock to those that work there. I am deeply concerned for all the employees and their families.

The Home Office announced last week that the IRC will be transferred back to the Ministry of Justice, and immigrants housed in Dover are to be transferred to other removal centres. The Home Office felt that the Dover site was not modern enough, secure enough, or near enough to a departure airport. For these reasons they are closing the site.

As soon as I was made aware of the closure I went to see the Immigration Minister and the Prisons Minister. The Home Office and Ministry of Justice will need to work closely so that nothing – and no-one - falls between the cracks. I have urged them both to do all they can to ensure that the dedicated staff of the IRC have a smooth transition into a new job. Every member of staff should be be helped to gain a position elsewhere.

A number of staff have already contacted me and I am doing all I can. It is important to get on the front foot now and make our voices heard. As the MP for Dover I have always banged the drum for my constituents. Now more than ever that will be the case.

This week I have held further meetings with Ministers to discuss jobs and their response has been positive. They understand how difficult this will be for staff and are working to offer support to the workers. Local training companies have also offered their services. It's really welcome that district councillors and the town council are also helping the workers. Together we are doing all we can at every level.

It is also important to consider the future of the IRC site. If the Home Office are determined to stop it being an IRC, it would not make sense for it to stay as a prison or place of detention. We should make the most of the opportunity to redevelop the Western Heights with a high quality development and make the Western Heights an even greater place to live. And we should have a proper consultation with the people of Dover to find out what residents want to see happen. Too often it seems that decisions are made behind closed doors. This is a chance for engagement and we should not lose the chance to do something really great here.

But right now, the most important thing is the future of the workers. These are people who have dedicated their lives to helping protect our borders. It is right that they should be helped into new roles and continue to have the security of work and a regular pay packet. I will do all I can.

1 comment

The Samaritans attend the removal centre each Monday Evening, supporting inmates as well as staff. An email has been sent to the centre inviting staff to ser us for face to face support. We are here, and there, for all.
- Graham Hutchison

Post a comment


22 OCT 2015

Unemployment continues to fall in Dover & Deal

It is great to see that unemployment is continuing to fall in Dover and Deal in figures released by the Office of National Statistics. The growing number of jobs is fantastic news locally and, as wages rise across the country, it shows that our long term economic plan is creating a brighter future for hard working families.

The number of people claiming Job Seekers Allowance is at its lowest since 2010. There were 1,002 people claiming JSA in Dover and Deal in September, a 55% drop since the Conservatives came to power five years ago. We've also seen a drop in youth unemployment in our area - there are now only 225 youth claimants.

0 comments

Post a comment


22 OCT 2015

Milaad Tandoori in The Tiffin Cup

I'm really proud that Milaad Tandoori has been Highly Commended in The Tiffin Cup, Parliament's annual award for the best South Asian restaurant in Britain. To be honoured in this way is a testament to all of the hard work the staff at Milaad put into creating such fantastic food with wonderful service.

Not only is The Tiffin Cup a brilliant way to celebrate all of the fantastic South Asian restaurants we have in Britain like Milaad, but it also helps raise money for World Vision, an international children's charity with Christian roots. It is great that such a fantastic local restaurant was able to take part.

Milaad Tandoori will receive a certificate and embroidered Tiffin Cup apron to mark their achievement in this years competition.

0 comments

Post a comment


16 OCT 2015

Middle Deal Residents Meeting

I was really pleased to be able to bring together Middle Deal residents affected by the recent flooding for a public meeting with representatives from Southern Water, Kent County Council, Dover District Council, the River Stour Internal Drainage Board, the Environment Agency, Persimmon Homes, Quinn Estates, and local councillors including Adrian Friend, the Mayor of Deal.

Residents were able to question the agencies about the problems they have been facing, and what can be done to prevent more flooding in the future.

I thought it was a positive meeting. There was a real sense that residents' concerns were being listened to and should be acted on. I am particularly pleased that Southern Water is taking action to upgrade the Golf Road Pumping Station. I hope they will properly compensate residents for loss and damage that was suffered in the latest flooding.

However, I remain concerned that there is still not adequate provision to deal with the flooding that is caused by surface water. I worry that we do not have enough water offtake and dyke capacity in the area. Surface water drainage must not be allowed to add to the problem. It is important that any developments include infrastructure to help with water offtake and water storage in the event of future downpours. It was encouraging to hear Quinn Estates make sensible suggestions as to how they could help improve the situation.

My thanks to everyone who attended the meeting.

0 comments

Post a comment


16 OCT 2015

Improving Dover's Council Housing

It is wonderful to see new investment in improvements - such as new windows and fencing - being put into Dover's Council Housing, including in the Canadian Estate. The estate now also has a mobile caretaker collecting rubbish and contributing to the general upkeep of the buildings. The work done so far looks great, and I look forward to seeing the work completed.

I was also really pleased to hear how the improvements to the estate have been influenced by input from the estates residents.

0 comments

Post a comment


16 OCT 2015

Why the A2 and A256 should not be used as lorry parks

The summer disruption of Operation Stack caused real damage to the Kent economy. Making sure that the traffic flows while our borders are secure matters to us all. This is why I welcome the increased border security at Calais and why I am pressing for lorry parks on the M20.

Our border at Calais used to leak like a sieve. Just five years ago we had a situation where pretty much anyone could just wander into Britain. Thanks to firm action it's now much harder to enter the country. Vigilant ships now patrol the English Channel. Strong fences ensure Calais port and Tunnel security. While sniffer dogs detect stowaways hiding in the fruit and veg. In addition there are plans for secure lorry parks in France and to encourage hauliers to have more powerful lorry security detection systems.

None of this pleases the Mayor of Calais of course. She wants to send her migrants to Dover on a one way ticket. She wants to move the border from Calais back to Dover. Thankfully our Home Secretary is working closely with the French Government. The French Government understands that the solution to the migrant problem is stronger border security across the whole of Europe and tougher action against traffickers. It is not simply shuffling the problem from one country to another as the Mayor of Calais would prefer. The answer lies in us all working together.

Stronger and safer borders will mean less disruption to our traffic too. After a summer of misery caused by Operation Stack we all know how important this is.

Yet difficulties can still occur. If not migrants then there can be other problems in the Tunnel. Ferries can be disrupted by weather or strikes at Calais. This is why I have been making the case for port alternatives like Dunkirk. And why I have argued for lorry parks on the M20.

Some say we should park lorries at Manston. While the Harbour Board and their Port Community Forum say we should turn the A2 or the A256 into lorry parks. I do not agree with these representations. These proposals would cause massive disruption in East Kent and harm our local economy. They need better to serve our community and think harder about the damage that would be done to jobs and money in Dover and Deal if such plans were implemented. I hope that we will soon see the Government bring forward plans for M20 lorry parks to ensure that if there is cross Channel disruption it does not disrupt the whole Kent economy.

We've come a long way from the days when pretty much anyone could wander into Britain. Our borders are becoming stronger and more secure. It's important to ensure that traffic flows freely on Kent roads and that we build the lorry parks we need. That way we can enjoy stronger border security and avoid suffering from Operation Stack.

0 comments

Post a comment


13 OCT 2015

Talk it Out in Parliament

It was great to have Talk it Out in Parliament to press the case for improvements in mental health care. Talk it Out is a wonderful group that fulfils a need in our area that isn't provided by anyone else.

Talk it Out is a support group for anyone suffering from mental health illness, or caring for someone with mental health illness.

Together with Tracy, Marie and Kelly we looked at crisis care, waiting times, and recovery support and urged Alistair Burt MP, the Minister for Mental Health to do what he can to boost mental health care in these areas. We also met with mental health group Mind.

Tackling mental health in our area is a key priority for me. I was pleased that the Minister showed such an interest in the issues raised by Talk it Out, and will be following up on a lot of their points. I hope that the local CCG and Health Trust will look carefully at what more can be done in Deal and Dover to ensure that those suffering from mental health illnesses get the care they need.

0 comments

Post a comment


09 OCT 2015

Backing small business to create local jobs

Small businesses are at the heart of our local economy. They create jobs and money and provide essential services that are central to our community. Yet many small businesses have complained to me about business rates. They feel it is an unfair tax that falls hardest on those who can least afford to pay. Added to this is a concern that business rates just go straight to central Government rather than to benefit our area.

This is why I welcome this week's announcement by the Chancellor that councils are now going to keep all of the business rates they collect from local businesses. This will hand the power back from Westminster to local councils.

We will also reform the business rates system so that local government will have the power to cut business rates, relieving pressure on small companies who struggle to afford this tax. The opportunity for councils to charge lower business rates will encourage more growth. Businesses will be able to expand and take on more staff. Local businesses need local solutions.

National Insurance has been cut for the first four people employed by small businesses. Along with the new business rate reforms, it is about giving local businesses and people in Dover and Deal the chance to get on and do well. These reforms help level the playing field between small business and big corporations.

Through the Government’s Enterprise Allowance scheme, people have been helped off of unemployment benefit and encouraged to start their own businesses. 120 people have been helped to start a new business in our area. Not only are there now less people claiming unemployment benefit, these new businesses have created more jobs and money for our local economy. We have seen a 55% drop in unemployment in Dover and Deal since May 2010.

More is also being done to provide wider work support. Recently I met with the Skillnet Group, who help people with learning disabilities into work through training and social enterprise. I heard from local jobseekers about their personal experiences finding and sustaining work, and how they are keen to find more hours of paid employment. I was really impressed with their determination to do well and to have the same opportunities in the workplace as everyone else.

Through the new National Living Wage that will begin in April at £7.20 an hour, workers will be receiving better pay. Tax has been cut for the lowest earners by raising the minimum level for income tax. This means that people get to keep more of their hard-earned money.

We have made real progress creating more jobs and employment opportunities for our local economy, but there is still more to do. I will continue to fight for more opportunities, jobs and money for Dover and Deal.

0 comments

Post a comment


08 OCT 2015

Middle Deal Flooding

I have called a meeting with Kent County Council and Southern Water to discuss the unacceptable flooding that residents have been experiencing in Middle Deal. The meeting will be held on 16th October at 9am in Albert Road. All affected residents are welcome to join the gathering.

This is the fourth time residents have suffered flooding in recent times and is totally unacceptable. I have previously met with the Environment Agency, Kent County Council, Southern Water and Dover District Council to make the case for infrastructure improvements. Deal is a town on the rise and with more homes being built, it is important that we have the infrastructure in place to cope. We've had many promises.

Yet clearly action to date has not been adequate. I am very disappointed that flooding has happened again and I hope residents will come and join the meeting.

0 comments

Post a comment


02 OCT 2015

Visiting St. Margaret's-at-Cliffe Primary School

It was great to visit St. Margaret's-at-Cliff Primary School to catch up with the staff and pupils to hear about all of the great progress they have been making so far this year. I was delighted to learn that they had been marked as 'outstanding' in their most recent Ofsted inspection.

It was great to be able to congratulate Ruby, who won my Christmas card competition last year in person, and to thank her for designing such fantastic artwork for me to send out to everyone.

0 comments

Post a comment


02 OCT 2015

Demolition Begins on Burlington House

I am delighted that demolition has finally started on Burlington House. This is a defining moment in the history of Dover. We all campaigned so hard to see this day. To be shot of this eyesore so we can move forward the renewal the town is just fantastic.

From the top of the building, it was easy to see how stunning Dover really is. With the town centre renewal and the further development of the port area, Dover will be transformed.

0 comments

Post a comment


02 OCT 2015

Dover Partnership Against Crime

I found it really useful to discuss with the Dover Partnership Against Crime, and with the manager of WHSmiths what measures can be taken to help protect local businesses from crimes such as shoplifting. I heard how the partnership - which covers both Dover and Deal - are hoping get digital radios for local shopkeepers to to help report crime thanks to new funding, and about how a perceived lack of policing in the area may lead to shopkeepers taking matters into their own hands.

We need to think about what can be done to help deter individuals from committing these crimes in the first place, and how we can further support our local shopkeepers.

0 comments

Post a comment


02 OCT 2015

Visiting Dover Boy's Grammar School

I really enjoyed the opportunity to answer well informed and considered questions on current affairs, such as on events in Northern Ireland and welfare reforms put to me by Dover Boy's Grammar School students.

It is great to see that they have recently opened such brilliant new facilities for their 6th formers. I was treated to a tour from Kyle and Anita, the head boy and girl. It was really useful to catch up with the staff and students to hear about the schools progress so far this year.

0 comments

Post a comment


02 OCT 2015

Reasons to be cheerful

In recent years we have seen the Dover District make real progress. For decades little happened. Yet in the past five years things have been changing at pace. There are many reasons to be cheerful in sharp contrast to official statistics claiming that everyone here is unhappy.

We've come a long way together. Five years ago, Dover's hospital had been decimated for a decade. Plans for a new hospital were long talked about, yet going nowhere. Burlington House seemed light years from demolition. Our port was about to be sold off to the French or whoever. Meanwhile unemployment had rocketed by a shameful 50% in the Great Recession. Things looked bleak.

Roll forward five years and the new hospital is built and open for patients. Unemployment has more than halved, meaning more economic security for families in our community. The port sell off was stopped and a people's port is rising at the docks. Burlington House is now being demolished. If you had said this is where we would be five years ago, few would have believed it a likely prospect. Yet it has happened because we worked hard together, fought for our community and believed in a more positive future.

The same is true in Deal. The hospital had been left teetering on the edge of closure. It didn't look like the fast train would ever come to Deal. Yet the hospital has been safeguarded after we all fought to secure its future and the fast train now sweeps into Deal every hour of every day. Meanwhile the town has an award-winning high street and is being written up in the national press as a destination in its own right.

There are many reasons to be cheerful and optimistic about our future. Yet that does not mean we should rest on our laurels. Much has been done yet there is much more to do to make our area once again a jewel in the crown of the nation. We have to see through the revival of the port. To end the menace of Operation Stack with lorry parks on the M20. We must see through the revival of Dover town centre and join it up with the waterfront too. There is great potential to develop Connaught Barracks and the Western Heights - I am doing all I can to see those developments happen. The exciting development at Betteshanger must be taken forward and we need to see five star healthcare in our community. We must do all we can to ensure Dover and Deal remain towns on the rise.

There is great cause to be optimistic about the future. We have come a long way together over the past five years. We have done a lot, yet there is so much more to do. We must continue to work together to realise the full potential of Dover & Deal.

0 comments

Post a comment


02 OCT 2015

New Businesses In Dover & Deal

New figures from the Department for Work and Pensions show 120 people in Dover and Deal have been helped off benefits to start their own business under the Government's Enterprise Allowance scheme since April 2011.

The allowance, which helps people on out of work benefits to start their own businesses, has helped 73,000 people across the country set up their own business since it was introduced in April 2011.

The scheme supports people with ideas for a business by setting them up with a business mentor to help them develop their business idea. Once their business is up and running and they are no longer receiving out of work benefits, they are eligible for 26 weeks of financial support to help them build their business. 260 people in Dover and Deal have started consulting with a business mentor under the scheme since it was introduced.

It is great news that so many people in Dover and Deal have been helped off benefits to start their own business under the Enterprise Allowance scheme. These figures show that not only have 120 people in our area come off of out-of-work benefits, but they have started businesses that create more jobs that will help yet more people into work. Small businesses are vital to our local economy, creating more jobs and money for our area. However, there is still more to do. I will continue to fight for more opportunities and a brighter economic future for Dover and Deal.

0 comments

Post a comment


02 OCT 2015

Burlington House Coming Down

I welcome the progress that has been made bringing down Burlington House. The work to bring down Burlington House, an eyesore on the Dover landscape has fired the starting gun for the renewal of Dover. I have worked tirelessly with the Council and the Government since I was first elected in 2010 to see this demolition happen. A people's port is now rising at the docks, the New Dover Hospital has opened and Burlington House is now coming down. Dover is on the way to being restored as a jewel in the crown of our nation once more.

Burlington House will be dismantled floor by floor, and the building is currently surrounded by scaffolding while the inside of the building is cleared out. Demolition is planned for later this Autumn.

0 comments

Post a comment


26 SEP 2015

Dover Athletic U13 Goal Scoring Practice

It was wonderful to see so many young people keeping active and getting involved in Dover Athletic at the Under 13 team's goal scoring practice session.

We have such a great local team, and it is encouraging to see young talent being nurtured to become our stars of the future.

0 comments

Post a comment


26 SEP 2015

Ripple Macmillan Coffee Morning

I had a great time at Ripple's coffee morning thrown in support of Macmillan Cancer Support on Saturday in Ripple Village Hall. It was arranged by villagers Rosemary and Lawrence - who arranged the event last year - and was fantastically well attended.

Congratulations to Rosemary and Lawrence for putting on such a wonderful coffee morning in support of such a brilliant cause. Macmillan do such important work supporting people who are diagnosed with cancer and their families. Thank you to everyone in Ripple who turned out to support the coffee morning, and especially to everyone who baked such delicious cakes for sale.

0 comments

Post a comment


26 SEP 2015

Dover Big Local Urban Fete

It was fantastic to see so many local people turn out to visit Dover Big Local's Urban Fete in Pencester Gardens. It was a great day of fun for all the family, and it was wonderful to see so many community groups in attendance. There were lots of sports and games for all of the family, as well as live music from the Eythorne Silver Band, a performance from Dover Tales and interviews and music from Dover Community Radio.

I enjoyed the opportunity to catch up with some of our great local businesses such as Solley's Ice Cream. Congratulations to everyone involved with Dover Big Local for putting on such a fantastic event for the whole community.

0 comments

Post a comment


25 SEP 2015

Why we should have The Queen, the Army and a National Anthem

In recent weeks there has been a lot of discussion about whether we should have The Queen, armed forces and why we bother with the National Anthem. Some have asked how strongly we should condemn terrorism and whether it is right to use drones to take the battle to terrorists.

My answer to all these things is clear. Security and stability matter. We don't just have The Queen and a Royal Family for the fun of it. They are key to providing an anchor of stability to our system of government, politics and way of life. We don't need to look far to see countries who don't have that struggling to find a stable political system.

Our armed forces matter. They guarantee our security in the World. We are able to go about our business and to exercise our freedoms because our armed forces protect us all. They have kept our nation safe and stopped us being conquered by our enemies. They still make brave sacrifices to keep us safe today. Our nuclear deterrent ensures we are taken seriously across the World.

Where a British citizen turns terrorist and takes up arms against us, what should we do? In my book we should treat them like any other enemy. Drone strikes against such people are necessary to prevent atrocities at home. Similarly, I condemn those who try to explain away - or even support - the IRA. This terrorist organisation murdered our Marines in Deal. We will never forget what they did.

While I believe in having powerful armed forces, I am less keen on sending them round the World. For this reason I was deeply sceptical of taking action in Syria a couple of years ago. Yet the rise of ISIS and the destruction of Syria as a country is no longer a matter we can ignore. The situation is not simply desperate for millions of people. It is a breeding ground for terrorists who wish to attack us here in Britain and the mass migration of people to Europe is turning into a humanitarian disaster. So I now believe we need to act to secure our continued stability and security. There needs to be a coalition to take action to stop the bloodshed in Syria and help rebuild that shattered nation. I will support Britain playing a role to make that happen.

We don't often have a discussion about why our way of life is the way it is. I'm glad we have recently. It is important we all remember how The Queen and our armed forces help provide stability and security. How terrorists must always be tackled and condemned at every turn. And why splendid isolation is not always the best foreign policy. Sometimes we need to act to ensure continued peace at home and abroad. On Syria, we now need to act.

0 comments

Post a comment


24 SEP 2015

Unemployment continues for fall in Dover & Deal

It's great news that the number of people claiming unemployment benefits in Dover and Deal has fallen yet again. The latest figures from the Office of National Statistics show that the number of people in Dover and Deal claiming Job Seekers Allowance is continuing to fall.

Statistics show that the number of JSA claimants in Dover and Deal now stands at 1,022 - a 55% drop from the 2,237 claimants in May 2010. There has also been a 65% fall in youth claimants, with the figure falling from 660 in May 2010 to 230 claimants on the latest figures.

These figures are great news for our local economy, and provide a stark contrast to the shameful 50% rise in unemployment we had in Dover and Deal between 2005 and 2010. It is particularly welcome to see such a sharp drop in youth claimants. I will keep on fighting to bring more jobs and money to Dover and Deal and to realise our goal of full employment.

0 comments

Post a comment


24 SEP 2015

Supporting Breast Cancer Now 'Wear It Pink' Fundraiser

On 23rd October Breast Cancer Now are throwing their 'Wear It Pink' fundraiser. I want to encourage everyone to wear something pink on October 23rd and donate whatever they can to help raise money for breast cancer research. Now in its 14th year, 'Wear It Pink' raises over £2 million each year.

Breast Cancer Now do incredible work helping make a difference to women with breast cancer, and they could not do it without the hard work and dedication of their fundraisers.

0 comments

Post a comment


20 SEP 2015

Betteshanger Country Park

I really enjoyed a great afternoon cycling at Betteshanger Country Park. It's well worth a visit. The park's cycle paths provide a super afternoon out for all the family It is brilliant that we have so many diverse spaces like this available for everyone to use in our community.

There is a two mile tarmac cycle track at the park, as well as woodland leisure paths for walkers and cyclists.

0 comments

Post a comment


19 SEP 2015

Counting down Nonington Fireworks

I was really happy to hold the countdown at the Nonington Fantasy Fireworks at Nonington cricket club. The impressive firework display drew a crowd of over 2,000 people, and also included live music, craft stalls, a fun fair, barbecue and outdoor bar area. I always enjoy the fireworks put on by the Nonington Village Entertainment group.

Congratulations to everyone involved in arranging this wonderful event and ensuring that a fantastic time was had by all.

0 comments

Post a comment


19 SEP 2015

Whitfield Brownies Macmillan Coffee Morning

I really enjoyed supporting the Whitfield branch of the Brownies at their Macmillan Coffee Morning in the Whitfield Pavilion. The event was packed out with visitors, and there was a fantastic selection of homemade cakes and coffee for sale.

The Brownies out so much work and effort into arranging the event for such an important cause. Congratulations to the Brownies on their success. The Brownies are such a great organisation for our young people to get involved with.

0 comments

Post a comment


19 SEP 2015

Presenting prizes at Temple Ewell Produce Association Autumn Show

It was a privilege to present prizes to local gardeners for their impressive vegetables and flowers at the Temple Ewell Produce Association Autumn Show. I was particularly impressed with the huge leeks people had managed to grow. I don't think I've ever seen such big leeks.

Thank you to the Association for putting on such a great show, and congratulations to everyone who contributed to such a super display.

0 comments

Post a comment


18 SEP 2015

Meeting with local jobseekers with learning difficulties

I found it incredibly helpful to meet with local jobseekers who have learning difficulties and with Malcolm Barnard - the chair of the Skillnet Group - who work to support people with learning disabilities with courses, employability programmes and to develop social enterprises across East Kent.

It was good to hear about their personal experiences finding and sustaining work first hand, and what they thought could be done to help more people with learning difficulties into paid work. I was deeply impressed with the determination to get on and do well in the workplace.

It is important that we work with and offer full support to everyone who has learning difficulties so they can enjoy the same independence and opportunities in the workplace as anyone else.

0 comments

Post a comment


18 SEP 2015

Why I opposed the Assisted Dying Bill

Last week the House of Commons debated the Assisted Dying Bill. This Bill sought to make it legal for terminally ill people to be helped to commit suicide.

I received many letters, emails and campaign cards from constituents on this matter. There was heated representation for and against changing the law. Many wrote of their heart-wrenching personal stories. I know from looking after my own father before he passed away that coping with terminal illness is very distressing. This draft law was a very sensitive issue. Such cases are very difficult and it was right for the matter to be approached with the highest degrees of compassion.

I considered carefully all the arguments. But I was concerned that changes to the law could lead to vulnerable people being coerced into killing themselves. I worried that terminally ill people could feel pressurised to die because they viewed themselves as a burden on their families and wider society. I did not believe the safeguards in the Bill did enough to protect people from the risk of pressure.

So I voted against the bill. I believe all human life is intrinsically valuable. No one should be subject to weaker protections under the law because they are frail, sick or needy.

As it currently stands, the law provides a clear moral boundary that assisting a person to kill themselves is illegal. I was concerned that changing the law would weaken this clear position. Once the principle of assisted suicide is permitted, it would be the thin end of the wedge towards allowing assisted suicide in more circumstances.

We only have to look at how the law has changed in countries like Belgium, where assisted suicide is now allowed for those with depression or non-terminal illnesses. I believe changing the law would set a dangerous precedent and struggle to contain sufficient safeguards to counter this threat.

As medical science develops, more people will live longer. People will remain alive longer with terminal illnesses. We should celebrate more people reaching older age. But it's important we devote more resources to end-of-life care and supporting those with long-term terminal illnesses.

We also need to ensure patients and families have better access to palliative care. There needs to be a better link between health and social care, providing whole-person care and providing more support at the end of life. It's not good enough when patients slip through the cracks and don't get the care they need upon leaving hospital. I want more to have the option of great quality home care.

These are not easy decisions and it's important we take action now for the future. But I don't believe weakening the law to allow more elderly or sick people the opportunity to kill themselves is the right way forward. Instead, we need to ensure better end of life care so everyone can pass their last days in peace.

0 comments

Post a comment


16 SEP 2015

Home ownership on the rise in Dover and Deal

It is excellent news that so many families in Dover and Deal have taken advantage of the Help to Buy scheme. Recent figures released by the Department for Communities and Local Government show that 147 families in Dover and Deal have been able to buy their own home under the scheme.

It is important that we support people who want to work hard and save the money to buy their own home in order to secure the economic security that home ownership brings to themselves and their families.

0 comments

Post a comment


16 SEP 2015

Celebrating 100 years of the Woman's Institute

I really enjoyed the opportunity to meet so many members of the St. Margaret's WI as they celebrated 100 years of the Woman's Institute. 100 years is such an impressive milestone.

The Woman's Institute has played an important roll in our country through war and peace over the last 100 years encouraging creativity, resourcefulness and re-cycling. It is great to see the movement so well attended and supported in our area today.

1 comment

It was lovely to see Charlie and family at our celebration.
- It was lovely to see Charlie at our celebration.

Post a comment


12 SEP 2015

Western Heights Open Weekend

It was fantastic to have the opportunity to visit the Grand Shaft and to watch some impressive living history displays at the Drop Redoubt Fort as part of the Western Heights Open Weekend. We have so much rich and fascinating local history in Dover. There is always something new to learn and discover.

Thank you to The Western Heights Preservation Society for arranging such a great open weekend, and for all of the super work they do throughout the year. It is thanks to the important work by the society and their volunteers who work every month to clear and maintain the Heights that such an important piece of local history is preserved for future generations.

0 comments

Post a comment


12 SEP 2015

Hougham Quilt Festival

I really enjoyed visiting the Hougham Quilt Festival. It is always such a highlight. It's held every three years and I wish they did it more often! It is wonderful to have the opportunity to celebrate the talent we have locally. I found the quilts displayed in the Church really impressive. There was such an incredible range of detailed and creative quilts on display. I also enjoyed the display by the Morris Men.

It was great to see the whole village join together to put on such a fantastic display, and I want to thank everyone involved - especially everyone who put so many hours into creating those beautiful quilts - for such a great day out.

0 comments

Post a comment


11 SEP 2015

No one doing more than Britain in refugee crisis

The current refugee crisis is a grave concern to us here in Dover and Deal. It one of the biggest challenges facing countries across Europe. Not for the first time, our community is on the front line.

Over 220,000 people this year alone have attempted to cross the Mediterranean into Europe. Much of this migration has been prompted by civil war, particularly in Syria and Libya, as well as the rise of ISIS. Over 11 million Syrians have now fled their homes.

This is not a problem which is going to disappear soon. I was deeply moved by the photograph of Aylan Kurdi found drowned on a Turkish beach after attempting to cross the Mediterranean to Greece. This brought home to all the desperate situation of these refugees. It has led people to ask what we are doing to stop any more needless deaths and protect those fleeing conflict and war.

The UK has been leading the way. We have been the second biggest donor to Syria since the crisis began. We have provided £900 million to Syria and the surrounding region since 2012. This money is having a direct impact to meet the immediate needs of vulnerable Syrians. The aid has provided over 18 million food rations, as well as water, education and vital medical supplies to millions in the region. It has also helped provide shelter to 409,000 persons displaced from their homes due to the conflict. No European country has given more than Britain.

We have also taken steps to tackle criminal gangs and traffickers who profit from human misery and send thousands to their deaths on unsafe boats. HMS Bulwark and HMS Enterprise, along with other Royal Navy cutters, remain in the Mediterranean to disrupt trafficking efforts and rescue boats in difficulty.

Britain has a proud history of providing sanctuary to persecuted groups and those fearing for their lives. We will also help take more Syrian refugees in dire need. Britain has already accepted around 5,000 refugees and asylum seekers to give sanctuary to those particularly at risk. The Prime Minster has pledged the UK will take 20,000 more refugees. Crucially, these refugees will be drawn from humanitarian camps around Syria to stop more refugees trying to make the extremely dangerous crossing to Europe.

Money from the aid budget will be diverted to help Syrians. We must use this to fund more places of safety for Syrian refugees. These can be available at short notice to those fleeing their homes and will help them return home when the conflict ends. More resources and areas of sanctuary around Syria will help stem the tide of boats making the treacherous journey to Europe.

Of course, the long-term solution to this problem is the end of conflicts which drive so many to flee, including the escalating bloodbath in Syria. But in the short-term, it's vital Britain acts to play its part, and continues to help the most vulnerable. What we are doing is the right thing to do.

0 comments

Post a comment


06 SEP 2015

Curfew Tea Rooms

I really enjoyed a delicious cream tea at the new Curfew Tea Rooms in St. Margaret's. Sitting out to eat in their beautiful gardens really was a weekend treat. It was great to talk to Keith and Wendy about their plans for their business. It is impressive to see small businesses like Curfew Tea Rooms which are both great for local residents and a boost for local tourism starting out in our area.

Curfew Tea Rooms opened this Summer in Sea Street. They offer a good selection of lunch time dishes, as well as homemade cream teas and cakes each weekend.

0 comments

Post a comment


05 SEP 2015

Guide Dogs for the Blind Pavement Parking campaign

Guide Dogs for the Blind held their annual Summer Fair at St Mary's Parish Hall on Cannon Street in Dover on Saturday to raise money and to raise awareness for their Pavement Parking campaign.

The fair included refreshments, books, puzzles, homemade cakes and Christmas cards on sale. All of the proceeds from the event will go to the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association.

Guide Dogs' Pavement Parking campaign aims to raise awareness among motorists of the affect parking on pavements has on the blind and the partially sighted, who have to risk their lives by stepping out into the road when the pavement is obstructed. It is important that drivers are more aware of the impact that pavement parking has on pedestrians. Especially the blind, the partially sighted and the disabled. It is unfair that they have to put their lives at risk when going about everyday tasks.

Thank you to everyone who helped arrange such a super event to help raise money for a very important cause, and to everyone who turned out to support it.

0 comments

Post a comment


04 SEP 2015

Preserving local assets for our community

One of the best things about our community is the pride people take in our area. So many people are passionate about the kind of positive future we can build in Dover and Deal.

We've seen it time and again. Our community rallying round to protect important community assets or get a fairer share of public services for our area.

When the previous Government tried to sell off our Port to the French or whoever, local campaigners helped stop the sell off and keep our Port forever England. A people's port is now rising at the docks with more investment, a community fund and community directors set to be appointed once the paperwork is finalised. This weekend's successful Dover regatta showed how far things have come from the dark days of threatened privatisation.

When the Dover Hospital project stalled, I was proud to march with campaigners and we all worked tirelessly to get the project back on track. We now have a brand new state of the art Buckland Hospital thanks to those efforts.

When services at Deal Hospital were threatened with closure, thousands of residents came together to answer surveys and came to packed public meetings to safeguard the hospital. They succeeded. Local doctors now have plans to base even more clinics and services at the hospital.

Recently, I have been working with the local Shepherdswell residents to help save their local pub, the Bricklayers Arms. The Bricklayers is a great local pub. Unfortunately, the owners are trying to sell the pub and villagers are worried it will be converted for other uses. Residents have succeeded in getting the pub listed as an 'Asset of Community Value'. They've now organised an action group to try and save the pub – possibly even bidding for it themselves.

It's a powerful example of people coming together to protect something they care about. I will do all I can to support the action group to help keep the Bricklayers for community use. When local people stand together to make positive change, councils and government should do all they can to help them.

There is a similar story in Deal at the Regent cinema. A local community group have come together to try and get the Regent Cinema on Deal seafront re-opened. They now have over 200 members and want to get the cinema listed as a community asset. It's got such potential to be a great asset for the community again. I was delighted to meet with the group and it is great that the local district councillors look set to help take the campaign forward.

I got into politics because I'm passionate about positive change and social action. To have the chance to make people's lives better through hard work and campaigning. When local people come together on an issue they care about, they can make such a positive difference.

I will continue to support local social action to make Dover and Deal all they can be. It's one of the best parts of my work as your Member of Parliament.

0 comments

Post a comment


02 SEP 2015

More local young people getting into work

It's great news that 560 young people in Dover and Deal have taken advantage of the Government Youth Contract scheme to gain work experience to help find work.

Since April 2012, 370 local young people with little previous job experience have started a Work Experience placement, while 190 young people on benefits have started pre-work training, with a guaranteed interview at the end of their placement.

The numbers of young people claiming unemployment benefits in Dover and Deal has now hit a record low of 245 – down 63% since 2010 and 40% in the last year alone.

Our young people should be earning, learning, or in training – not stuck in a life on benefits. The more people taking advantage of the Youth Contract, the lower we can get youth unemployment and boost jobs and life chances for our young people.

Yet there is still more to do. I will continue to fight for more jobs and money and an end to youth unemployment in our community.

0 comments

Post a comment


31 AUG 2015

Dover the fastest growing major port in Britain

Latest figures show the Port of Dover was the fastest growing major port in Britain in the Department of Transport's latest report. Dover Port has increased the amount of cargo passing through by 9% from 2013-2014 to 27.6 million tonnes. These figures put Dover's growth ahead of other British ports like Southampton and Felixstowe.

However, this strong growth underlines the need for more investment at the Port and better road transport infrastructure to deal with higher traffic volumes. I will keep making the case for dualling the A2 and for new lorry parks on the M20 to deal with increased traffic through the Port.

When the Port succeeds, it brings jobs and money to our community and nation. But we need to ensure we have the set-up to cope as traffic through the port increases.

0 comments

Post a comment


31 AUG 2015

Kent Miners Festival

The Kent Miners Festival celebrates an important part of our community's history. It was impressive to see so many local groups such as the Snowdown Colliery Brass Band, Invicta Fencing Club and Aylesham and District Boxing Club taking part.

Betteshanger Sustainable Parks, on the site of the old colliery was a good location for the festival, and I look forward to seeing the festival there again next year. Betteshanger Sustainable Parks, along with Hadlow College plans to create a space for sustainable business, education, energy and tourism on the old colliery site.

Congratulations to everyone involved for organising such a fantastic family day out, especially the local organisations in the health and wellbeing tent who gave up their time to give out valuable advice to members of the local community.

0 comments

Post a comment


31 AUG 2015

Great Mongeham Summer Show

I enjoyed visiting the Great Mongeham Summer Show to see the results of all of the hard work prople have been putting into their gardens this Summer. There was an excellent display of vegetables, flowers, floral art, handicraft, cooking and photography on display. The cake on offer were delicious.

Thank you to the Great Mongeham Horticultural Society for holding such an impressive event, and congratulations to everyone who took part.

0 comments

Post a comment


30 AUG 2015

Dover Community Regatta

The Dover Community Regatta this year down was a real success. It was incredibly well attended and I was delighted to see so many people come to enjoy a family day out.

I also found the opportunity to catch up with so many brilliant local businesses and charities including Dover Foodbank, Inner Wheel, Dover Soup Kitchen, the Ramada Hotel, Dover Big Local, the Rotary Club, Kent Go Sky Ride and the RNLI to hear about all of the work they have been doing throughout the year.

I particularly enjoyed the impressive display by the Dover and Walmer RNLI demonstrating how they put out boat fires and rescue ships in trouble on the high seas. It is very important that we support the RNLI who do such vital work all year round.

There is so much going on in Dover at the moment. Burlington House coming down will do even more to take the town forwards. The Community Regatta is a great example of how the people of Dover are helping to make our town the Jewel in the Crown of the nation once more.

0 comments

Post a comment


28 AUG 2015

Meeting St. Margaret's residents

I met with the residents of Granville Flats on Hotel Road in St. Margaret's-at-Cliffe on Friday to hear about serious flooding that has affected their building first hand. The flood water as caused serious damage to the carpets, lift and car park in the communal areas, as well as some of the flats themselves.

People living in the flats are concerned about how their home insurance will be affected by the flooding in future, as they already have to pay a high premium. There are also concerns that properties in Bay Hill are also affected by water washing down from Hotel Road to the Bay.

It is clear that the drainage on Hotel Road is not fit for purpose, and requires a major overhaul with investment from Kent County Council in a better road drainage system. The drainage in Bay Hill also needs to be addressed with many residents complaining about torrents of water running down the road.

0 comments

Post a comment


28 AUG 2015

Supporting Dover and Deal's great local businesses

Local small businesses are the engine of enterprise and job creation in Britain and East Kent. 99% of local businesses are classed as 'small'. Small and medium businesses account for 6 in 10 of all business jobs. They have been the job creators over the past decade. Large corporations are important, but it's strong independent local businesses that are boosting jobs and money in our community.

Here in Dover and Deal we have many great local businesses. Last week, I visited Solley's Ice Cream in Ripple near Deal. This is a third generation family business. They began ice cream production 30 years ago and have since gone from strength to strength.

It's now the most successful independent ice cream maker in Kent and was recently a Gold Star winner at the prestigious Great Taste Awards. What's more, 85% of Solley's ingredients are sourced from Kent itself. That means more jobs and investment for local farmers and producers, helping to build on local success.

I also recently visited Cook Fabrications in Hawkinge. The firm specialises in high level manufacturing and design. Founded in 1979 by Eric Cook, the business now distributes the highest quality steel for construction all over the South East.

The business employs over 50 local people in highly-skilled metal work. It's a great example of a local business with a proud heritage helping to boost skills and training in our area.

I'm passionate about seeing small businesses to grow and helping local people start their own firm. There's been great progress. Since 2011, 110 unemployed people in Dover and Deal have taken up the New Enterprise Allowance. This is a scheme which provides unemployed people with a weekly allowance and business mentoring to help them come off benefits and start their own small firm.

It's a brilliant programme and I'm so pleased to see more people taking a punt and aspiring to get their own business off the ground. It's a real boost for the local economy and brings more jobs and money for local people.

But we can't rest on our laurels. There's still more to do. I'm a believer in opportunity politics. For everyone to have the chance to aspire to set up their own businesses and do really well. I will continue to campaign for cuts to business red tape and regulation to help more small businesses start up. We also need a serious reform of business rates, which will aid our great local shops and high streets.

I also welcome the cuts to National Insurance for small employers. From next year, small businesses will be able to employ four people on the Living Wage without paying any National Insurance at all. Not only will this boost local jobs, it will level the playing field between small businesses and rich corporations.

Dover and Deal has great local businesses. I will continue to do all I can to support their success and encourage even more start-ups.

0 comments

Post a comment


22 AUG 2015

St Margaret's Craft and Gift Fair

It was great to see such a range of local crafters and artisans selling their good at St Margaret's-at-Cliffe's craft and gift fair in the village hall. As well as stalls, there was a raffle and a tombla with the proceeds going to Meadowside.

It was great to meet such a variety of enthusiastic and talented crafters and to see the fabulously skilled cards, gifts and cakes they have created. I especially enjoyed the delicious cakes I took home from Naughty But Nice Cakes. It just shows what great cooks we have in East Kent!

Thank you to everyone involved for putting together such a great fair.

0 comments

Post a comment


21 AUG 2015

Pharos Beer Festival

I was really pleased to support Dover Grammar School for Boy's in their bid for a new sports hall by opening the Pharos Beer Festival, organised by the Old Pharosians, the school's old boys network. Money raised at the festival will go towards building the new hall, which not only will be a great asset for the school, but it will be a great space for the local community to use too.

I really enjoyed sampling some of the Kentish ale that was on offer. It is always important to support our local breweries.

Thanks to everyone who was involved for organising such a super event.

0 comments

Post a comment


21 AUG 2015

Solley's Ice Cream

I really enjoyed visiting Solley's ice cream in Ripple to tour their factory, taste their award winning Wild Strawberry and Cream ice cream and to have a look around their new farm shop.

Solley's have been producing ice cream for 30 years, and is the largest independent ice cream producer in Kent. They switched from dairy farming to producing ice cream as a response to falling milk prices. 85 per cent of the base products in their ice cream come from Kent, including milk from a neighbouring farm.

Solley's is a fantastic example of a family business that spans the generations and has built up a highly successful enterprise based off of one good quality, delicious product. I also want to congratulate Solley's on the Gold Star they recently received at the Great Taste Awards for their delicious Wild Strawberry and Cream ice cream, and wish them luck in October at the Kent Food and Drink Awards where they have been nominated for Best Producer.

0 comments

Post a comment


21 AUG 2015

Strong exam results help young people realise their full potential

Building a society where everyone has the chance to get on and do really well is a key priority for me. Our young people deserve the opportunity to study hard and achieve great success.

Central to this is having strong post-16 education and good local schools. Too many young people still don't realise their full potential or do as well as they could. Our schools in Dover and Deal should be places where students are encouraged to perform to the best of their ability and aspire to high level study.

This is particularly important because some of our local schools have been through tough times. Yet recent exam results show just how much progress our schools have made. There was strong improvement in many schools' A-Level results published last week. This means that more of our young people will have the chance to go to university, further education or find a better paid first job.

The strong local GCSE results that came out yesterday provide an essential foundation for further academic and vocational study. It was really encouraging to see students from our local schools achieving the good grades they need to get on in life.

Castle Community College in Deal has seen strong progress. The number of A* - B grades more than tripled on last year and every final year student got into their first choice university. At GCSE they saw their results rise for the second year running, with students going on to apprenticeships, traineeships and sixth form and college courses.

Dover Grammar School for Boys also performed strongly. Nearly all the students there passed their A-Levels with many going to top universities like Cambridge. They also achieved their best set of GCSE results for 9 years, with 94% of students achieving five A*- C grades.

There was also good news at Dover Christ Church Academy. The school beat its previous high performance in 2014 with 31% of grades rated at A*- B. To add to the good news, GCSE results at the school were their best ever, with over 43% of students securing five or more A*- C grades.

Congratulations are also in order to Dover College, Dover Grammar School for Girls, St Edmund's Catholic School and Astor College for the Arts for turning in many strong results.

Of course, A-Levels and university are not the only route to a good education and life chances. Many young people in our area do vocational courses or start an apprenticeship after GCSE's. But those who have strong academic talents must get the opportunity to push themselves and achieve the highest possible results.

When new sixth-form students begin next term, they will be studying the new AS and A-Levels. These have been designed to be as rigorous as possible. These will put our exam standards up with the top qualifications in the world. Students will be pushed further and those who do really well will have their achievements recognised.

Many congratulations to all of the students who worked so hard and did so well.

0 comments

Post a comment


11 AUG 2015

More services at Deal Hospital

I am really pleased to hear about plans for more services at Deal Hospital. Local doctors are planning a 'Health and Social Care hub' to provide better and more co-ordinated health and social care at the hospital. 

The plan for a new 'hub' will allow more services to be based at Deal Hospital. They plan to safeguard the minor injuries unit and diagnostics, and more rehabilitation, physiotherapy and social services are planned. It would help older people access more services closer to where they live in Deal and means fewer journeys to big far-away hospitals like Ashford and Margate.

Joining up health and social care in Deal means better step-up and step-down care after illness and injury through access to both inpatient beds at Deal Hospital and the local Health and Social Care Village beds. More people will be able to get better in our community. The 'hub' aims to improve care for older people in particular, by working with the Age UK centre on Park Street and coordinating access to services such as dementia care and meal delivery services.

The new hub plan shows how our local doctors are so committed to Deal Hospital. I will continue to work closely with the doctors and fight for a fairer share of healthcare in our community and more locally-based services in Deal.

0 comments

Post a comment


11 AUG 2015

OFSTED success at Ripplevale School

It's brilliant to hear that Ripplevale School has achieved the top result in their recent OFSTED inspection. The report from their recent social care has rated the school as 'outstanding' in every category. 

Schools like Ripplevale offer support to students who have unique educational needs. Having visited Ripplevale, I know how hard they work to give the students the best possible chances in life.

It is great to see the efforts of the whole school community justly recognised by OFSTED - this is a just commendation for outstanding care and an incredibly supportive environment.

0 comments

Post a comment


05 AUG 2015

Use of Manston Airport during Operation Stack

I do not think that Manston is the right place for a lorry park. Lorry parks should be sited along the route to the port, not on a detour. They should be sited on the main motorways – that means along the M20 corridor, and even further up the country. This is why I have been working to bring forward a lorry park near Folkestone.

Moreover, the road infrastructure is not up to scratch for Manston to be used as a lorry park. The A256 and A2 are single track. I am concerned that the result could be gridlock in East Kent.

However assurances have been made that the use of Manston will only be if strictly necessary. I have also been assured that if it does not work and results in gridlock, the Manston lorry park will be abandoned. It's also only likely to be used to get traffic off the M20 so a form of contra flow can be created there. I have also been assured that when in use, it will be closely monitored to ensure that freight is phased in to prevent gridlock.

The plan to use Manston highlights again that the A2 should be dualled from the Lydden junction through to Whitfield. The A256 should be upgraded to a dual carriageway between just north of the Ash roundabout and the Eastry roundabout. I am working to get these much needed road upgrades back on the table.

0 comments

Post a comment


26 JUL 2015

Dover Patrol Memorial

It was an honour to join the Chairwomen of DDC, the Mayoress of Deal and many local residents in paying tribute to the Dover Patrol in memorial parade and service at Lethercote Point.

The Dover Patrol was one of Britain's most important naval defences in the First World War, guarding the Kent Coast and the southern North Sea against German ships. Famously, the patrol took an active role in the daring 'Zeebrugge Raid', to stop dangerous German U-boats attacking our shipping. Every year, a service takes places to commemorate the nearly 2,000 members of the patrol who lost their lives in the conflict.

It was a very moving ceremony and fantastic it was so well attended. We will never forget the Patrol's sacrifice and continue to honour their memory.

0 comments

Post a comment


25 JUL 2015

Tilmanstone Fete

I really enjoyed getting down to Tilmanstone for their annual fete. Luckily, the sun shone all day and plenty of local residents turned out for a great event. There was stalls, tombolas, music and lots of events. Thanks to all the organisers for such a great afternoon.

0 comments

Post a comment


24 JUL 2015

Zumbathon for Nepal

It was great to see local volunteers taking part in a 'Zumbathon' at St Edmund's School to raise money for a charity expedition to Nepal. The dance fitness session was organised by local activist Beverley–Jayne Last to raise money for the ITAP charity to send emergency response teams and medical equipment to Nepal. Since the earthquake in Nepal in April, the country's emergency services have been devastated, requiring quick support to redevelop.

It was good to see so many people getting involved in the Zumbathon and exercising for such a great cause. So many lives in Nepal were devastated by the earthquake and it's fantastic to see our community do our bit to help those in need. Many congratulations to Beverley-Jayne for organising such as great event and inspiring so many local people!

0 comments

Post a comment


23 JUL 2015

Walmer and Kingsdown Golf Club

I really enjoyed touring Walmer & Kingsdown Golf Club to learn about their plans to make their club greener and more environmentally friendly. Maintenance improvements will allow the club to use less water and electricity, but still provide the same high facilities.

Walmer & Kingsdown Golf Club was established in 1909 in an attempt to encourage more women and families to fake up golfing. The club boasts an 18 hole course that overlooks the sea at Kingsdown. It's a fantastic local asset and it's great to see the club continue to improve.

0 comments

Post a comment


23 JUL 2015

With Star at Zetland Arms

It was a pleasure to pop down to the Zetland Arms in Kingsdown with Star, my five year old Norfolk Terrier. I visited the closest pub to France to meet landlords Tom and Karensa Miller, and their lovely Black Labrador. I heard to how they welcoming customers and their pups to the pub for lunch and a pint of local ale after a walk along the beach.

It's great more local businesses such as the Zetland Arms are becoming more and more dog-friendly. Britain is a nation of dog lovers – it's very welcome that more and more local businesses have been opening their doors to the whole family, including our canine companions.

0 comments

Post a comment


22 JUL 2015

Visiting Multipanel Factory in Eythorne

It was fantastic to visit Multipanel's aluminium panel factory in Eythorne again to see the progress they have made. I met with Multipanel bosses at the factory to discuss on their plans to invest in Dover and grow their business. The Eythorne factory will is now in action 24/7 to cope with increased demand. They now plan to build a second assembly line to expand their business further

Two years ago, Multipanel moved its manufacturing operation back to the UK from China. The aluminium panel plant brings 70 more jobs and over £12 million investment to local economy – the facilities really are state of the art and it's great to see the plant doing so well. I'm so proud of the great businesses we have here in Dover & Deal and will keep making the case for more companies to relocate to our corner of Kent, bringing jobs and money for local people.

0 comments

Post a comment


21 JUL 2015

Aspen2 Students in Parliament

It was great to welcomed students from Aspen2 to Parliament on Tuesday.

Aspen2 is our local secondary school for students with special needs and learning disabilities. Aspen student, Tommy Selecky, wrote to me recently to ask if his class could come to visit me in Parliament. I was a glad to accept. I met Tommy and his classmates and was quizzed by them on my work as an MP. They then went for a full tour of the Palace of Westminster.

I really enjoyed welcoming the students up to Parliament. A big congratulations to Tommy for suggesting the trip and asking if his class mates could join him too. I really hope they learned a lot and enjoyed the day.

0 comments

Post a comment


19 JUL 2015

Nonington Fete

I really enjoyed visiting the Nonington family fete. There were plenty of exciting stall for all the family and a lot of great food and drink. There were lots of shows too, including the 'Red Barrows'. Nonington fete is always a summer highlight and I hope everyone who came along enjoyed it as much as I did.

0 comments

Post a comment


18 JUL 2015

East Kent Railway Gala

It was a pleasure to celebrate the East Kent Railway's 30th anniversary gala. The railway has received new lottery funding to develop facilities and continue to employ and train more young people. I opened the new car park and spoke to local patrons and volunteers about the continuing success of the line.

The heritage line has been running trains on the old Kent Colliery Line for the past two decades. It's a brilliant local success story and has a fantastic local apprenticeship scheme. The railway has helped train over 100 young people in the past two years. Many of these young people had low job prospects or little chance of finding work. Every single one of those over 100 young apprentices have gone on to work in the rail industry.

I look forward to visiting the railway again soon and hope they continue to train young apprentices and go from strength to strength.

0 comments

Post a comment


17 JUL 2015

Meeting local Farmers

It was great met with local members of the National Farmers Union at St Radigunds Abbey Farm to discuss support for local farms.

I toured the farm with NFU Branch Chairman Peter Moynan and other local farmers. It's a really beautiful landscape and fantastic local asset. We discussed boosting Britain's food security, stopping the spread of bovine TB and cutting red tape on local farms.

Our local farmers have had a tough time over the past few years – TB, changing climate and overseas competition. They work long and hard providing us the food and crops we need. It's right we support them in the tough times.

0 comments

Post a comment


12 JUL 2015

Deal Bomb 26th Anniversary

It was a privilege to attend the 26th anniversary concert to commemorate the victims of the IRA bombing of Deal Barracks in 1989.

It was a fantastic concert and a fitting tribute to those marine bandsmen who were killed by this hideous attack. Tragically, many of its victims were only in their teens.

I really enjoyed the music from the Royal Marines Bands and the moving rededication ceremony. So many residents turned out to pay their respects. They always welcome back the bandsmen and remember their sacrifice.

The bomb deeply affected our community. We will never forget what happened and continue to honour the victims' memory.

1 comment

Good to see you supporting this event Charlie. Our brave forces do a lot of work to keep the country safe to give us the freedom that we have today. As the adverts say "BRITISH SOLDIER BE THE BEST"
- Michael richardson

Post a comment


03 JUL 2015

Collecting for Dover Food Bank

It was great to join foodbank volunteers at Tesco in collecting for people in need.

The collection is part of the Neighbourhood Drive to boost food donations to help the neediest in our community. The top foods items needed were tinned fruits and meats, as well as dried milk and essentials such as men's razors.

I was so impressed by the hard work and selflessness of the volunteers. This country has a proud history of charity and help for the neediest. Dover Foodbank is another example of this assistance and of the Big Society in action.

0 comments

Post a comment


27 JUN 2015

Armed Forces Day in Deal

It was a privilege to attend the celebration for Armed Forces Day in Deal. It was an excellent event and really well organised the Royal British Legion and by our own veterans' organisation here in Deal.

The Deal Flag was hoisted as a show of support at 10:30am. The next day, local veterans and cadets paraded past before organising a traditional drumhead service on Deal Pier. It's fantastic to see so many people pay tribute to our Armed Forces and the work fighting for our freedom and security.

Armed Forces personnel put their lives at risk every day to keep us safe. It was the 7th Annual Armed Force Day and I pay tribute to those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. Let's keep up a great tradition.

0 comments

Post a comment


26 JUN 2015

Deal Festival Opening Night

It was a pleasure to go to the opening night of the Deal Festival of Music and the Arts. The event started at St Andrews Church with a fantastic production of 'Wellington at Walmer' – a play about the Duke of Wellington's life as Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports. The event was packed with festival patrons.

Deal Festival has been a great success story in our area, running annually for the past 33 years. It has a very strong reputation for boosting arts and culture in East Kent and providing music and arts education to young people. This year's programme of events looks typically impressive, including Shakespeare plays at Walmer Castle and tours of Deal's smuggling heritage.

The Festival runs from 26th June to 12th July this year. I encourage everyone to come down and support the Festival. The full 2015 brochure can be found at this link.

0 comments

Post a comment


21 JUN 2015

Clifftop Challenge for Breast Cancer

It was great to head down to Deal to see runners complete the Clifftop Challenge. The challenge is a 55 mile run from Hastings to Deal along the cliff, with different starting points and legnths for different abilities.

The run is organised by our very own Chantele Rashbrook, a mother of two from Deal, to raise money for the charity Breast Cancer Now. There was a huge turnout at the finish line in Deal and it was great to see so many take part for such a good cause. Many congratulations to Chantele for all her hard work organising.

0 comments

Post a comment


19 JUN 2015

Visiting New Dover Hospital

The new Buckland Hospital opened its doors to patients this month. It was fantastic to visit with the Head of East Kent Hospitals, Chris Bown, to see the range of services offered at the new hospital.

The hospital buildings really are state of the art and the new hospital will be able to provide so many more health services locally. It will deal with around 60,000 outpatient services every year and reduce journeys to big, faraway hospitals like Ashford and Margate. It's a great result for Dover.

0 comments

Post a comment


19 JUN 2015

Dover Town Team

It was great to meet with the Dover Town Team to discuss how the business rates review planned for 2017 will affect businesses in Dover. We also talked about how we can encourage more connectivity between the port and the town.

Dover has an exciting future ahead in the next few years, with Burlington House set to be torn down and a plan for town centre renewal. Strong local businesses should be at the heart of these projects.

0 comments

Post a comment


19 JUN 2015

Dover Christ Church Academy

It was a pleasure to visit Dover Christ Church Academy to see progress on the new buildings and refurbishment. The new extension – the Central Heart – will provide new state of the art facilities and will boost teaching in vocational subjects. The buildings will be open for the new school year in September. It's fantastic to see the new investment and the great strides the school has made over the past two years.

The school also has a specialist unit for children with Special Educational Needs called Aspen 2. The school recently had a mock General Election which was won by Aspen2 student Luke Chapman of the "Progress Party". It was great to congratulate Luke on his victory. It's great to see more young people getting involved in our political process and being interested in the positive change we can make in our community.

0 comments

Post a comment


13 JUN 2015

Walmer Food Festival

This weekend saw the first ever Walmer Food Festival held on Walmer Green.

It's great to see so many local businesses such as Burger Bros, Solley's Ice Cream and Best of Kent showcasing their produce at the event. Local people really appreciated the festival and community turnout was high.

If even more people buy from our great local food and drink businesses, it would pump even more money into our local economy and create more jobs too. My congratulations to every business and visitor that attended for making the event such a success. I hope it will become an annual festival!

0 comments

Post a comment


12 JUN 2015

Deal Citizens Advice Bureau

Nearly half the UK population are estimated to use the Citizens Advice Bureau at some point in their lives. In Deal, we have a great CAB and it was a pleasure to visit to hear about the essential support and advice they are providing for local residents in need.

It is really great to meet with staff to hear about all the fantastic work that the Deal CAB has been doing for our community. Their advice can be invaluable during financial, legal or family problems. The CAB explain to local people all possible options to help them make important life decisions.

It's important we keep supporting the great work our local Deal CAB and the brilliant work they do

0 comments

Post a comment


12 JUN 2015

East Kent College Training Facilities

I visited East Kent College Dover campus to tour their fantastic new £5 million training and skills facilities.

The new facilities were officially opened earlier this month. They really are state of the art and will help give students a real taste of the working world in mechanical and technical subjects. I chatted to the Deputy Principal about the College's further expansion plans to increase the number of students and learners from 350 to 500.

I'm keen for East Kent College to continue to go from strength to strength and give more of our young people the best possible start in life.

0 comments

Post a comment


12 JUN 2015

Dover College

I really enjoyed visiting Dover College to hear how much progress the school has been making. I talked to Head Mr Doodes about how student numbers are increasing and the school's efforts to give every child the best possible education.

Dover College's inspection in November 2014 praised the school for its good academic achievement and its excellent support for students with special educational needs. It does a great job in turning out mature and respectful students. I look forward to visiting again soon and seeing even more progress.

0 comments

Post a comment


12 JUN 2015

Kennedy Scott

It was great to visit training firm Kennedy Scott's Dover offices on their work their success helping long-term unemployed people in Dover find work.

Kennedy Scott's staff are so committed and help local people every step of the way to support them  into work. Their training and support makes such a difference to so many people's life chances.

Their Manager, Julie Eastwood, who has been shortlisted for the Employability Learner of the Year Award. It's no accident long-term unemployment is down a stunning 40% in Dover and Deal in the past two years alone and Kennedy Scott have one of the best job outcome rates in the country

I hope Julie wins the award and I look forward to Kennedy Scott helping even more local people into work.

0 comments

Post a comment


08 JUN 2015

Deal Learning Alliance - Parliament

I really enjoyed welcoming students for the Deal Learning Alliance up to Parliament.

Teachers, parents and students from the alliance had a guided tour the building and got to go inside the House of Commons and Lords. I then met them all for a chat and a photo outside Big Ben.

The students told me they loved going round the building and going inside the debating chambers. I recently visited Deal Parochial and told the pupils about my job as an MP – so now it was great to return the favour and show them where I work in Westminster!

A big thanks to the Deal Learning Alliance for coming to see our democracy in action.

0 comments

Post a comment


05 JUN 2015

Brandon Tool Hire

It was great to visit the Dover branch of Brandon Tool Hire. I spoke to Brandon's staff about the store's business model providing equipment to local businesses in the East Kent and Sussex region.

The store now has expansion plans to supply more businesses and DIY enthusiasts. It's great to see businesses like Brandon's do really well and grow. When they do, it creates more jobs and money for local people.

0 comments

Post a comment


05 JUN 2015

Curry Garden - Dover High Street

It was a pleasure stop by for lunch at the Curry Garden on Dover High Street. I chatted with new owners Mr and Mrs Islam and talked about their new business plans. It's great their looking to grow and boost local business in our area.

The restaurant looks great and it was a fantastic lunch - a must visit for all curry lovers!

1 comment

Thanks. The curry garden is my best choice in Dover
- Mr samantha

Post a comment


11 APR 2015

10th Annual Crocus Walk

It was great to join so many local residents for the 10th Annual Crocus Walk to raise money for Breakthrough Breast Cancer. An amazing 224 walkers turned out and our community managed to raise a stunning £2173 on the day.

In east Kent, 575 women are diagnosed with breast cancer and 171 die from the condition every year. The walk is a fantastic opportunity to help raise to beat the disease and for our community to come together for a fantastic cause.

The Walk was organised by our very own Kerry Rubins, who has done so much to organise events and raise money for good causes. A big thank you to Kerry and to everyone who took part!

0 comments

Post a comment


26 MAR 2015

Re-Launch of the Stag, Walmer

It was great to attend the re-launch of the new-look Stag pub on the Strand in Walmer. The pub has recently been refurbished and looks great. It's got fantastic food and drink and a really warm atmosphere. The pub trade employs over 1,000 people in Dover and Deal and contributes millions to our local economy. It's great to see The Stag doing so well and I'd recommend a visit!

0 comments

Post a comment


26 MAR 2015

HRH TheQueen Opens Battle of Britain Centre in Capel

It was a pleasure to attend HM The Queen and HRH the Duke of Edinburgh opening the Battle of Britain visitor centre in Capel-le-Ferne. The new centre will provide education and an interactive experience for residents and tourists alike. It's a fantastic new centre and captures what the Battle of Britain must have been like for pilots and local Kent people. We must never forgot 'the few' who fought in the Battle of Britain to keep our country free.

The Queen met some surviving pilots from World War II. It was a privilege to attend and the new centre will be a real asset for our community.

0 comments

Post a comment


20 MAR 2015

Jeremy Hunt - New Dover Hospital

It was fantastic to welcome the Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, to the new Dover Hospital site. The new Hospital will open in June and will provide great local healthcare.

Jeremy said, "I think it's really impressive. This is how the NHS is going to develop and it's great to see Dover at the forefront of this."

The new Hospital will include will include state-of-the-art equipment and care for up to 60,000 patients. It is based around a one-stop clinic model, which provides people with a consultation, diagnostic investigations and treatment all in the same day.

It's amazing, you push for these projects and you fight to make them move ahead and to now see at the end of the parliament, the fruition of my campaign at the beginning of my parliament is just incredible. I'm just so proud and I can't wait for this amazing facility to open.

0 comments

Post a comment


13 MAR 2015

Caesar Court Development

It was great to visit the Caesar Court development in Deal to see progress at the site. Caesar Court is a new extra care scheme that will provide good, affordable accommodation for elderly people in Deal.

Caesar Court replaces the old Sampson Court on Mongeham Road. The development will have 81 shared ownership and affordable rented one and two bedroom apartments. It will also include a restaurant, hairdresser and café, and will be open to the wider Deal community. It is set to open later this year and will be a fantastic asset for our community.

It's another example of projects getting underway in Deal and no more 'coming soon'. I look forward to Caesar Court opening later this year.

0 comments

Post a comment


07 MAR 2015

Dover Beer Festival

It was great to go to the beer festival in Dover at the Royal Cinque Ports Yacht Club.

The festival was supported by the Dover, Deal and Sandwich Branch of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) to promote local Kent brewers and ale varieties. I tried a selection of local ales with local Conservative councillor Nigel Collor and spoke to beer enthusiasts at the club.

It was a fantastic festival. The brewing and pub industry contributes nearly 1,500 jobs to our local economy in Dover and Deal. It's a vital trade and we have so many great local brewers in Kent. It's great to see our local pub and brewing trade doing so well and I really enjoyed supporting the festival.

0 comments

Post a comment


28 FEB 2015

Backing Dover for Canadian Tourists

It was great to meet with the Canadian tour operators to promote tourism to Dover & Deal. The meeting was organised by VisitBritain to get more Canadians visiting the East Kent area.

I want more Canadians to come to Dover & Deal. Our corner of Kent has so much to offer, from the world-famous white cliffs, to the historic Dover Castle, the history of the Marines and the sweeping seafront. I hope more of them now plan and sell trips to Dover & Deal. Increased tourism will help boost our economy in East Kent and provide jobs and money for local people.

0 comments

Post a comment


27 FEB 2015

Dover Jobs Fair

It was great to organise a my third Jobs Fair at Dover Town Hall. The fair ran for five hours and aimed to bring together talented jobseekers, and those wanting a change of career, with local employers.

Dover is full of talented, aspirational people trying to get on the jobs ladder. Since 2010, unemployment is down 35% - I will keep fighting to get that figure down further.

Getting more jobs and money to our corner of Kent is my passion. I am a big believer in opportunity politics and the chance for people to get on in life. There were many great employers at the fair and businesses received a lot of high quality CVs and invited jobseekers for interviews. A big thanks to all the employers who set up a stall at the event.

0 comments

Post a comment


26 FEB 2015

Burlington House CPO

Knocking down Burlington House is one of my key priorities. It's demolition will fire the starting gun for the renewal of Dover town centre. Since I was elected in 2010, I have worked tirelessly with the Council and the Government to get the go ahead for the demolition.

The Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) for Burlington House has now been confirmed by the government. This is fantastic news and truly is a day of days in the history of Dover. We have waited for 10 years for this. It's incredible to get this result and it's a defining moment in the work of delivering a great future for our town. It's an important milestone on the way to making Dover once again a jewel in the crown of our nation.

I look forward to the bulldozers moving in soon.

0 comments

Post a comment


26 FEB 2015

Backing Dover Business with Europe Minister

It was great to welcome Europe Minister David Lidington, to Dover on Thursday to drum up support for local businesses.

We attended a business lunch on Dover High Street to discuss action to support local businesses. Top of the agenda were businesses taxes, boosting exports and how the Government can support lending to growing firms. We then visited CMS employment agency on Dover's Market Square to discuss job opportunities in the local area. CMS recently received a 'Supportive Employer' award on their work in helping 100 local jobseekers to find work. David and I then called into the Dover branch of Pitman Training to hear how the firm has been boosting training and skills in the Dover area.

Dover has have so many growing businesses who are keen to expand. I am passionate about getting more jobs and money to our corner of Kent. Strong local businesses attract more investment to our area and provide more jobs for local people. Unemployment is down 35% in Dover and Deal since 2010 and youth unemployment is down 46%. Businesses provide training and skills for local people to boost their potential and help them aspire and get on.

I will continue to make the case to support our local businesses in Dover and Deal to help them expand and thrive.
.

0 comments

Post a comment


24 FEB 2015

New Dover Hospital

It was great to visit the new Dover Hospital site on Coombe Valley Road. They've made great progress and the new hospital will be open to patients in just a few short months.

The new Dover Hospital will be a one stop shop for outpatient services. It will have a full range of diagnostics, day surgery and a revamped minor injuries unit. It will provide fantastic local health care and reduce difficulty journeys to big, faraway hospitals in Ashford and Margate.

After years of neglect under Labour, we are not getting a fairer share of healthcare. I look forward to the new Hospital opening very soon.

0 comments

Post a comment


17 FEB 2015

Kerry Rubins £100K Legacy Party

It was fantastic to congratulate local campaigner, Kerry Rubins, on the £100,000 she and her team have helped raised for the Breakthrough Breast Cancer charity.

I went to Kerry's '£100k legacy party' at Deal's Astor Theatre to celebrate the group's achievements. Over the past year, local campaigners have organised the Crocus Walk and other fundraisers to raise money for breast cancer treatment and recovery.

It just shows what we can achieve as a community when we work together. Kerry is a brilliant campaigner and her tireless work has done so much for Breakthrough Breast cancer. I look forward to supporting Kerry's events in the year ahead to raise even more money for breast cancer charities.

0 comments

Post a comment


13 FEB 2015

New defibrillator for Deal

I joined local resident, Beverley-Jayne Last, in Sainsburys Deal to drum up support to raise £1,500 for a new community defibrillator in Deal.

The campaign was part of the Heartstart's campaign for a new defibrillator. Beverley's appeal eventually raised in excess of £2,200 – more than enough for a defibrillator. It was an incredible effort and thanks to everyone who helped out.

When someone has a heart attack, every minute is critical. The new defibrillator will make a massive difference and help save the lives of those in need. I was proud to support Beverley's campaign and a big thank you to everyone who donated money to this great cause.

0 comments

Post a comment


30 JAN 2015

Police Meeting on Dover Tailbacks

I met with Dover Police Chief, Chief Inspector Steve Barlow, on Friday about solution traffic tailbacks from the Port of Dover.

It was a really positive meeting. We agreed the Police need to use their powers to manage and control traffic whenever there are Port tailbacks. Our town is far more than a dumping ground for lorries and cross-Channel traffic. The Port Police and the Dover Police are working together to get a lasting solution to the problem.

0 comments

Post a comment


30 JAN 2015

Kennedy Scott 25th in Dover

It was great to attend the 25th anniversary of Kennedy Scott Ltd on Friday in Dover. The company runs welfare to work and job training programmes to help the long-term employed back to work. Kennedy Scott do a fantastic job in helping Dover and Deal's long term unemployed get work. Their great work has helped local long-term unemployment come down nearly 30% in the last year alone.

Under Labour, long-term unemployment rocketed and too many people were left on the scrapheap, on benefits and without hope. This is now being changed. Thanks to our welfare reforms and our growing economy, more people back people in Dover and Deal are coming off long-term benefits and into jobs.

0 comments

Post a comment


23 JAN 2015

Visit to Portal House School

It was great to visit Portal House School in St Margaret's to tour the school and study their new designs for their rebuild. I studied plans with headteacher Rosemary Bradley. The school does fantastic work for children with special educational needs. A whole new rebuild could make the school even better and support more children.

However, many residents are worried about the new designs and the effect they might have on the local community. Before any rebuild goes ahead, the Council needs to make sure the new designs are in keeping with the beautiful St Margaret's village and local residents are fully consulted on rebuild plans.

0 comments

Post a comment


23 JAN 2015

Go Away Stowaway

It was fantastic to welcome local business AET in my surgery to see their new 'Go Away Stowaway' system to catch illegal migrants and stowaways climbing aboard vehicles.

AET International Ltd are based in Walmer. Their state of the art system can be fitted to all types of lorries and uses infra-red cameras and GPS positioning to alert the driver of a security breach, whether inside or underneath the lorry. We need to keep our borders as safe and secure as possible. This detection system will help catch even more illegal migrants who try to break into Britain from Calais. It's a simple, but effective, idea and will be a great help for lorry drivers.

AET Chief Executive and I have written to the Immigration Minister and UK Border Force to promote expansion of the system. It's a great invention. I hope more haulage companies adopt the system to track and stop those who try to break into Britain.

0 comments

Post a comment


23 JAN 2015

East Kent Against Fracking

I met with East Kent Against Fracking – a local group who have campaigned for protection for East Kent from fracking and drilling.

I have made it clear that fracking is not eight in our corner of Kent. The safety case has not been made and there are concerns drilling for gas through the aquifer could contaminate our drinking water. We also don't want drilling sites around Shepherdswell and Tilmanstone ruining our beautiful countryside.

Time and time again, I have made the case for tougher regulation on drilling to the Government. I am glad concessions have been wrung from them. The changes made will ensure that fracking companies can no longer come to our corner of the Garden of England and seek to exploit it. The Government have made the right decision to tighten up the regulations and I am sure all campaigners will be ecstatic at this news.

0 comments

Post a comment


22 JAN 2015

Sajid Javid - Mobile Reception East Kent

I enjoyed welcoming Culture Secretary, Sajid Javid, to our corner of Kent to press him on improving mobile reception.

Sajid's department is responsible for telecommunications and mobile infrastructure. We discussed his plans to boost mobile phone signal and reception nationwide. Too often in Dover and Deal, people can't get a phone signal. It's incredibly frustrating for residents and hampers local businesses. I have long made the case for action to tackle black spots and improve our mobile reception. It's great to see an action plan now in place to improve reception in our area.

0 comments

Post a comment


21 JAN 2015

Visiting Relate East Kent

I really enjoyed visiting Relate East Kent to hear about their counselling service and work with young people in our area. I talked to counsellors about how Relate is supporting young people across East Kent who have difficulties, both at home and at school. They also do great work with couples and families to keep relationships together.

Helping young people to work through their problems early in life helps set them up for a brighter future as they grow into adults. Strong families are the bedrock of our society. We need to do everything we can to support charities like Relate help our young people and keep relationships together.

0 comments

Post a comment


11 JAN 2015

Deal Pier Tribute to Victims of Paris Atrocity

I joined 200 residents at Deal Pier on Sunday in tribute to the victims of the Paris atrocity.

We show our support for people in Paris and were proud to raise 'Je Suis Charlie' signs to show solidarity for staff at Charlie Hebdo magazine, where staff were murdered for publishing satirical cartoons.

It was fantastic to see over 200 people attend the tribute. People in Deal stand shoulder to shoulder with Parisians after these horrific attacks. The attack in Paris was an attack on freedom of speech and who we are as a society. The Deal gathering shows just how strongly people feel about the attacks in Paris and protecting our freedoms.

0 comments

Post a comment


11 JAN 2015

Deal Festival 2015 Launch Event

It was great to join organisers of the Deal Festival of Music and Arts at their New Year Launch Event on Sunday. We heard all about the organisers' exciting plans for the festival in 2015.

Deal Festival celebrates its 33rdanniversary this year and continues to go from strength to strength. This year's festival will run from 27th June to 12th July and will feature concerts and events from world class artists. Deal is a vibrant centre for culture and the arts in East Kent. The festival is much loved and well supported. I hope the events and concerts in 2015 are an even bigger success and bring more tourists to Deal and our area.

0 comments

Post a comment


19 DEC 2014

Dover Port Community Fund

I was proud to be in Market Square to see the £250,000 cheque being handed over to the Port of Dover Community Fund.

The money will come from the Port's profits and will go towards to Dover community. It will ensure the town benefits more from the activities at the Port.

I have campaigned long and hard for this Community Fund. It's great the fund has now been established and the principle is in place. Now, I will now be working for the fund to be increased so Dover can get a greater share of investment for its development.

0 comments

Post a comment


12 DEC 2014

Visit to St Edmund's School, Dover

It was fantastic to visit St Edmund's Catholic school on Friday. I caught up with staff and attended a Sixth Form Assembly, where all the students were sporting Christmas jumpers!

The school has made fantastic progress in the past few years. It is now out of special measures and results are rapidly improving. I now want to see the school go from strength to strength – my congratulations go to all staff and students at the school.

0 comments

Post a comment


12 DEC 2014

Royal Mail Delivery Office in Deal

It was great to visit Royal Mail's Deal Delivery Office on Friday to thank staff for their work over the festive period. I was shown around by Delivery Office Manager, Chris Cole. He introduced me to postmen and women who are working hard sorting and delivering mail over the busy Christmas period.

It was great to see first-hand how much effort staff put into delivering mail for people at this time of the year. Our postal workers do such an important job at this time of year and help to deliver Christmas mail for people and families in our area. I would like to thank them for their efforts and wish them all the best over the busy festive period.

0 comments

Post a comment


06 DEC 2014

Small Business Saturday in Dover

It was great to visit a range of small businesses in Dover on Saturday to mark Small Business Saturday.

Small Business Saturday is an annual event to support small business and encourage local shopping. Dover District Council allowed free parking in the town centre to encourage more shoppers to Dover for the day.

I visited John Angell's jewellers on Biggen Street, a family business that has been trading for over 170 years. I also called into Allan Hughes Quality Menswear, which has been trading in Dover for 50 years, and tried on jackets.

On my last stop, I popped into the latest Dover micropub, the Mash Tun, which opened in August on Bench Street. I chatted to owners Peter and Kathryn Garstin and sampled one of the pub's ales.

Small businesses make the World go round. Dover has so many fantastic small businesses, providing jobs and money for our corner of Kent. They are a real source of local pride and make Dover High Street a great experience.

Small Business Saturday is a fantastic way of boosting our small businesses and encouraging more people to shop locally in Dover. I really enjoyed speaking to the business people and hearing about what would help their businesses grow more.

We need to support our small businesses all year round. Small Business rate relief has benefitted over 1,000 small businesses in Dover. Credit to the Council for allowing free town centreparking.

It was great to see the High Street so busy and I look forward to the next Small Business Saturday next December.

0 comments

Post a comment


29 NOV 2014

Christmas Card Stall at Landmark Centre

I joined volunteers at the Deal Landmark Centre on Saturday at their Christmas card stall to help raise money for charity.

Every year, there is a Christmas card stall in Deal, helping to raise money for good causes. It was great to support the Christmas card stall. I got some fantastic Christmas cards!

The stall usually takes place at Deal Library but this year it was at the Landmark Centre. There was a great selection of festive cards on offer. Thanks to the volunteers for all their hard work.

0 comments

Post a comment


28 NOV 2014

Speaking to 6th Formers at DGSB

I paid a visit to  Dover Grammar School for Boys on Friday to talk to students and take part in a Q&A with Sixth Formers.

It was good to catch up with staff at the school and answer questions from students on my job as an MP and work in the Dover area. I also took part in a lesson with Sociology students on the changing nature of politics in today's society.I really enjoyed talking to students and answering their questions.

They were incredibly switched on about political issues and our local area. The sociology lesson was fascinating. No wonder it's one of the best schools around and well exceeds national averages. In 2013, 92% of all students at the school got 5 good GCSEs, including Maths and English, well above the national average of 60%.

The staff do a fantastic job ensuring the students are stretched to the max and are challenged. A lot of improvement has been made at the school and it's on an upward trajectory. The new Headteacher, Mrs Chapman has made a big difference.

A good education is the best possible start in life. I hope Dover Grammar goes from strength to strength and it's great to see the school doing so well.

0 comments

Post a comment


28 NOV 2014

Dover Jobcentre reducing Youth Unemployment

I visited Dover Jobcentre on Friday to see the work they do in helping young people to find work. It was very ecouraging to see the great work being done at Dover Jobcentre to help our young people into work.

Between 2005 and 2010 under Labour, youth unemployment rose a disgraceful 50% in Dover. It is now down 43% since the Election and 25% in the past year. This isn't happening by accident. It's down to our welfare reforms and the great work being done at our Jobcentre to support our young people into work or training.

All the staff at the Jobcentre were so conscientious and dedicated to helping people find work. Welfare reforms and the Jobcentre are bearing fruit and more people in Dover are finding jobs.

0 comments

Post a comment


21 NOV 2014

Speaking Up Group in Deal

It was great to see the work of the Deal Speaking Up group in helping those with learning difficulties and disabilities in Deal.

The Speaking Up group meets twice a month at the Golf Road Centre as a forum for those with disabilities and learning difficulties. They work to bring about practical solutions in the Deal area for people with disabilities and learning difficulties. They are now planning an access survey on Deal High Street.

Speaking Up is a great local forum to support those with disabilities and learning difficulties. We need to make it as easy as possible for disabled people to play a full and active part of our community in Deal.

Speaking Up meet on the first and third Friday of every month at the Golf Road Centre. I strongly encourage more people to get involved - come along on 5 December at 10am and join the forum. Thanks to organiser, Chrissie, for inviting me along.

0 comments

Post a comment


17 NOV 2014

The 'Big Mow' at Freemen's Way

I organised the 'Big Mow' community action day on Sunday to cut the grass on Freemen's Way, Deal.

I met with Dover District Council representatives at the field in September to agree plans to cut the grass in the central square and improve the field for residents. Residents on Freemen's Way told me how angry they were that the grass was so overgrown. It was unacceptable that the residents of Freemen's Way could not use their green.

Sadly no progress was made, so I organised 'the Big Mow. The 'Big Mow' team took to the brambles with brush cutters and brought up a tractor mower to cut the grass. It was a fantastic day of community action and shows what we can do when we work together. Action, not words, is what matters.

This is just the first step. Now we need action on the children's play area and a long-term plan for improvement to the field. I hope the councillors will be more pro-active and help me to fix the play area. I want all residents to feel proud of where they live.

My thanks to all those who took part - particularly Cllr Wayne Elliott, Adrian Friend, Tracy Carr and especially to Julian Pitts of Veg UK Ltd for bringing a tractor mower to help.

0 comments

Post a comment


14 NOV 2014

Dover Christ Church Academy Visit

It was great to visit Dover Christ Church Academy to see the prgress being made at the school. It allowed me to catch up with staff, visit the maths department and talk to 6th Formers about his work and the issues affecting our community.

Christ Church Academy's Ofsted inspection in October found there was an 'improving picture' at the school. The report also highlighted how behaviour at the school has improved and students now wear their uniform 'with pride'.

The school is making good progress. The maths results were particularly encouraging and I was delighted to visit the maths department to see their work first hand.

My congratulations to Mrs Williamson and her team for all the progress they have been making. I now want to see Christ Church go from strength to strength. A good education is the best ladder to success in life and the improvements at Christ Church are very encouraging. It was great to see they are on the right track.

0 comments

Post a comment


14 NOV 2014

Deal Art Studio Opening

It was fantastic to attend the opening of Linden Hall Studio, Deal, last Friday night. The new gallery has opened with an exhibition ofthe work of local Deal artist, John Corley.

Linden Hall Studio, in St George's Road, Deal, is currently exhibiting glass, paintings and drawings by the well-known local artist. The studio will now be open every Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 11am to 4pm.

John is an incredibly talented artist. The paintings and drawings are amazing. His work making and restoring stained glass is exceptional. No wonder he's so popular with the many churches and organisations in our community.

This is another Deal business going from strength to strength, helping to make Deal a centre for art, music and culture. It was a pleasure to attend the studio's opening. Do go down and visit, and support the business by buying an artwork if you can.

0 comments

Post a comment


13 NOV 2014

Aycliffe Residents' Forum

It was great to attend the Aycliffe Residents' Forum to hear local residents' views on a whole range of topics. Top of the agenda was the location for the children's play area, lorries and parking problems. It was great to chat to residents on the issues that matter to them. I will raise these concerns and make the case for residents. I look forward to the next residents' forum.

0 comments

Post a comment


09 NOV 2014

Dover Remembrance Sunday

It was fantastic to see so many Dover people attend the Remembrance Sunday Service at the war memorial. Over 400 gathered to pay their respects to those who fought and died to keep our country safe. Veterans and cadets marched to the memorial and I was proud to lay a wreath for those who died.

This year marks the 100th anniversary since the start of the First World War. Over 888,000 soldiers from Britain and the Commonwealth died over the four year conflict. Hardly a single town or village was unaffected. Dover was no different. We remember their memory and never forget their sacrifice to preserve our freedoms and way of life.

0 comments

Post a comment


01 NOV 2014

Protect Dover Medical Practice

On Saturday, I was glad to sign a petition to stop Dover Medical Practice closing. The Practice is at risk of closing next month. Now 3,000 patients have been told they need to re-register at a different surgery.

Dover Medical Practice did a great job in caring for patients and those who did not speak good English. We need to make sure that the patients are now put first and looked after properly.

0 comments

Post a comment


30 OCT 2014

Betteshanger Park Launch

It was fantastic to break ground on Thursday for the launch event for the new Betteshanger Sustainable Parks project.

The £40 million project aims to regenerate the area around the former Betteshanger Colliery, which closed in 1989. Backed by Hadlow College, the scheme will turn a brownfield site into a sustainable energy park, with a focus on green technology and renewable energy.

The park is set to open its doors in early 2016 and will lead to around 1,000 new jobs in the area. I am now urging Chancellor, George Osborne, to make the new park part of the Discovery Park Enterprise Zone.

I'm immensely supportive of this project – it shows Dover, Deal and the White Cliffs are open for business. We cannot change what happened at Betteshanger in the past, but we can help make a brighter future. This project will bring more jobs and money to our corner of Kent and I'm very optimistic about the kind of economic future we can make in our area.

0 comments

Post a comment


16 OCT 2014

Welcoming Ports Minister to Dover

I welcomed the new Ports Minister, John Hayes, to Dover on Thursday morning to see the changes transforming the Port.

John Hayes became the Ports Minister in July. Charlie showed the Minister round the Port to see the major ongoing changes at the Port. He was really impressed by the Port and the change we make.

We've come a long way together. We stopped Labour's port sell off. The port now has powers to get the investment it needs. We are appointing our first community directors and there is now a community fund for the development of the town.

All this is at risk at the next election. Why would we want to go back to where we were four short years ago? We can't risk Labour having another go at selling off our port.

0 comments

Post a comment


16 OCT 2014

Dover Magistrates' Court Visit

It was great to be joined by Justice Secretary, Chris Grayling, on Thursday in a visit to Dover Magistrates' Court.

Chris and I toured the court, which deals with low level crimes in the Dover area. It is also where all criminal proceedings start. Latest statistics show that, in the past year, an incredible 14,000 plus criminal proceedings were completed in magistrates' courts in East Kent.

The team do a great job in swiftly providing justice on so many matters, from motoring offences to criminal damage. They help keep us safe in our community and ensure criminals are dealt with as quickly as possible. The Justice Secretary and I paid tribute to all their hard work in keeping our court system running smoothly.

0 comments

Post a comment


11 OCT 2014

Guide Dogs Week in Deal

It was great to meet top guide dogs, Zebedee and Ulla, in Deal at an event to mark Guide Dogs Week 2014. I also met with representatives of Guide Dogs in Deal as part of their Stand Up for Guide Dogs campaign.

There are over 4,700 guide dog owners in the UK. The campaign and Guide Dogs Week encouraged communities all around the UK to raise funds and awareness of guide dogs and the people who use them.

Guide dogs do such great work. If you are blind or partially sighted, guide dogs can change your life. It's fantastic that Guide Dogs Week is helping to raise money for guide dogs and more awareness of the many people that need them.

0 comments

Post a comment


10 OCT 2014

Visit to Dover Food Bank

I visited Dover Foodbank on Friday to see the great work the charity does in providing emergency food to local people.

It was great to meet with local volunteers at the foodbank to ask them about their work. Dover Foodbank is a crucial lifeline to those who are hungry and in need. It is an excellent example of our community coming together to help those who need it most. I was incredibly impressed with the selflessness of the volunteers and their determination to help to all those who need it.

Volunteers told me they are looking for more donations and people to help out. Any spare food or time you can give would be greatly appreciated.

0 comments

Post a comment


10 OCT 2014

Progress of Dover Schools

I visited two Dover schools on Friday to talk to students about their studies. I dropped by at Dover Grammar School for Boys and St. Edmunds Catholic School to meet with staff and students to discuss progress at the schools.

Both schools have been through difficult times. Like Castle Community Academy in Deal, real improvement has been made. Congratulations to the teachers and staff on their efforts.

 

 

 

I really enjoyed visiting both schools and hearing about the progress pupils are making. I know there are some who seek to rubbish our schools at every turn - they are wrong and it's clear that we are seeing real improvements. A great education is the best way to to realise opportunity and the best possible start in life.

0 comments

Post a comment


03 OCT 2014

Local Artist-Painting Westminster Office

A painting of 'Dover Castle in the Snow' by local artist John Burrows now hangs in my Westminster office.

Mr Burrows sent me the snowscape as a gift for opening his exhibition in June at Dover Castle. The exhibition was held in partnership with English Heritage to showcase the best examples of local art.

It was so kind of John to send me the fantastic painting of Dover Castle in the snow. It now hangs pride of place in my office in Westminster. John's an excellent artist and it's a little piece of Dover and a great reminder of home when I'm up in London.

0 comments

Post a comment


27 SEP 2014

Macmillan Coffee Morning in Ripple

I was proud to join local residents in Ripple for a coffee morning to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support.

The event had great coffee, company and conversation. Most importantly, there was a great turn out to raise money to support people suffering from cancer. My thanks goes to Rosemary for organising such a successful morning.

One in three of us will get cancer. It's one of the toughest battles anyone has to face. The money from the Ripple coffee morning will help Macmillan make sure no one has to face cancer alone.

0 comments

Post a comment


20 SEP 2014

Heartstart Campaign Manekins in Deal

I was so proud to support my friend, Adrian, in his fantastic donation to the Heartstart campaign. The Heartstartcampaign provides emergency life support education and training to help save lives.

Adrian has donated two 'resus Annies' to the Heartstart campaign to help train more people for when someone goes into cardiac arrest. Supported by the British Heart Foundation, Heartstart on the south east coast aims to teach more members of the public these life-saving skills.

There are around 600,000 heart attacks out of hospitals every year. When someone has a heart attack, every minute is critical. For a heart attack sufferer, every minute without CPR and defibrillation reduces their survival chances by 10 per cent.

These 'resus Annies' will help more people in our area learn crucial resuscitation skills and respond quickly when someone has a heart attack.

It's great that the Heartstart campaign is teaching more people in our area how they can save lives. I encourage everyone to get involved in the campaign and learn these life-saving skills.

0 comments

Post a comment


17 SEP 2014

Freemens Way Field Meeting

I held a site meeting at Freemens Way, Deal with representatives of Dover District Council.

Plans were agreed following the meeting for estate improvements.  The grass needed to be cut in the central square and has called for the play area to be restored. I also want to hold a community meeting on the square with the council and residents to hear what more can be done.

Residents have told me they are concerned. So I have acted and worked with the Council to develop an action plan.

First the square must be cut. A simple thing yet an immediate improvement. Second we need to see the play area restored. Third a community meeting on the green to hear what people want to see and what more can be done.

I totally get how angry the residents are. I talked to many people when I held the site meeting. I am working hard to make the difference. My deepest thanks to Council Deputy Leader Sue Chandler and Alan Rooke James of the CSU for joining the visit.

0 comments

Post a comment


13 SEP 2014

1940s Weekend in St Margaret's

I paid a visit to a 1940s themed festival in St Margaret's for the 1940s themed weekend.

Hundreds of local residents turned out at the free event to get into the Home Front spirit. Taking place at the Pines Tea Room and Museum  the festival included make-and-do demonstrations, vintage 1940s hair and make-up stalls, as well as a hog roast and cream teas.

There was a fantastic community spirit. People really enjoyed getting stuck in and involved in the Home Front spirit, from the live wartime music to the talks about the Home Guard and D-Day.

Dover was England's frontline town in the Second World War. At Hellfire Corner, the people of Dover defied everything the enemy could do when shells and bombs were rained down on us.

We came through because of our community spirit. And it was great to see this community spirit at the weekender. I hope to there will be another event next year to carry on remembering our role in the war effort.

0 comments

Post a comment


06 SEP 2014

Raising Awareness of Batten Disease

I was really proud to join BMX riders and skateboarders at a tournament at Deal skatepark to raise awareness of Batten Disease.

The tournament was organised by Jason Wilson to raise money and awareness of Batten disease. Jason's nephew Ryan has been diagnosed with the disease. Batten disease is a very rare nervous system disorder that usually begins in childhood. Around 200 children and young adults in the UK are affected. The disease leads to blindness, fits and progressively damages the ability to think. It is a terminal disease with very few sufferers living past the age of 30.

Batten Disease is truly horrible. It takes away life at a young age and takes away sight and the ability to think. As a genetic disease, parents are often wracked with guilt adding to the pressure on families trying to cope.

It was fantastic to see loads of young people get involved to support and help raise money. They were all keen to support Ryan and raise awareness of Batten disease. Jason did a fantastic job organising the whole event and raising awareness of this terrible disease. I wish him and Ryan well.

0 comments

Post a comment


23 AUG 2014

Walmer Picnic on the Green

It was a pleasure to attend this year's Picnic on the Green in Walmer. The event was free to all and great fun for all the family. There was music at the Bandstand and a small funfair to keep the kids entertained after everyone had eaten their picnic.

Local community groups were also on hand to tell residents about local events and services. I took the opportunity to chat to the people at Deal Icebreakers stall. Every Boxing Day for the last three decades, the Deal Icebreakers have run into the icy sea on Deal Beach to raise money for charity and good causes. It was great to support them.

0 comments

Post a comment


22 AUG 2014

Ground-breaking at Dover Port

It was a real pleasure to be at the groundbreaking of the Western Docks Revival. I was joined by the Chairman of Dover Harbour Board, George Jenkins, and Chief Executive, Tim Waggott, to start the demolition of the old Seacat berth at the old hoverport. It was the start of the regeneration of Dover Port. When the project is finished, there will be a new cargo terminal and new development on the waterfront.

It's great to see the commitment of the port to new investment and the creation of hundreds of new local jobs. There's a real sense of change and partnership with the town. New investment, new community directors and a new fund for Dover too. A partnership that can strengthen Port of Dover's position as one of the UK's leading ports and enhance its position as the leading ferry port in Europe.

0 comments

Post a comment


18 AUG 2014

Painting Project at St George's Hall, Deal

It was great fun giving St George's church hall in Deal a new lick of paint this afternoon. I was joined by friends Wayne Elliott and Adrian Friend in this social action community project to get St George's hall looking its best.

The hall at St George's is a great community asset for Deal and can cater for up to 120 people. It also has a large commercial kitchen and a stage and dance floor for community events. I really enjoyed helping out on the painting project to make sure the hall at St George's remains spick and span and ready for community use.

0 comments

Post a comment


07 AUG 2014

Trouble Corner on Deal Beach Street

I was glad to bring Kent County Council Cabinet Member for Roads and Highways, Cllr David Brazier, to Beach Street in Deal to look at a dangerous section of the road. Cllr Brazier also met with local residents and business owners and to see the site. There was a serious accident earlier this year on this area of Beach Street and many concerned residents contacted me about this dangerous bend.

When I lived on Beach Street I saw first-hand the speeds that cars can reach and the many near misses on this corner. I pledged to take action over the unsafe bend so we could avoid any more accidents. It is good that Cllr Brazier agreed with me and will have the road speed tested. Hopefully, this will be the first step in addressing this dangerous corner.

0 comments

Post a comment


07 AUG 2014

Deal with New High Streets Minister

It was great to welcome new High Streets Minister, Penny Mordaunt, to Deal to show her our award-winning High Street.

We have a great mixture of independent stores, from artisan cheese shops to art galleries. Now that we have won the battle for all-day high speed trains to Deal, it will be even easier for more people to come and experience all that makes our High Street great – and that made it High Street of the Year 2013.

I also talked to Penny about what more can be done to support our local area. With schemes such as the Coastal Communities Fund, the Government is providing more opportunities for towns such as Deal to achieve their full potential and get more jobs and money.

0 comments

Post a comment


02 AUG 2014

Deal Hospital Fete

The Deal Hospital Fete is always a highlight of the summer. The fete, organised by the Friends of Deal Hospital, featured fun community activities with a tombola, a raffle, a children's fancy dress competition and donkey rides for all to enjoy. There were also stalls for plants, bric-a-brac and bottles, and a barbeque.

The Friends of Deal Hospital should feel proud of putting on another great event. There was a big community turnout, and with all money raised going straight back to Deal Hospital this is always a fantastic cause to support.

Many people spoke to me about the future of the hospital. It's amazing that it's just a year since we fought - and won - the battle to safeguard the hospital.

With the outpatient closure agreed back in 2006, I am working tirelessly with the local doctors to save local services. The doctors want to see more local clinics at the hospital and ensure proper services are retained for the elderly, poorly sighted and people who find it hard to travel. I am looking forward to the doctors setting out their final plans - but so far things look very promising.

0 comments

Post a comment


02 AUG 2014

Eastry World War One Commemorative Event

Today, I joined the World War One commemorative event held at Eastry Primary School. The event featured re-enactments, a vintage dress award ceremony and had the Landmark Show Choir singing wartime tunes for the community.

The centenary of the First World War is a sobering moment which affects all of us - young and old. We will remember all those who paid the ultimate price for freedom and democracy. I am incredibly proud of Cllr Wickham and her team for putting on this wonderful event to commemorate the legacy of those who gave their lives for our nation.

It was great to see the local community out in force, not just to enjoy the displays and stalls, but also to learn about the history behind the war. I particularly enjoyed listening to the Landmark Show Choir performing some wartime tunes for the crowd.

0 comments

Post a comment


27 JUL 2014

Remembering the Dover Patrol

Ealier today, I paid my respects to those brave serviceman of the Dover Patrol at the Patrol Memorial on Leathercote Point, St Margaret's Bay.

These heroes kept our nation safe during the darkest of hours. We forever remember those heroes of the patrol and the amazing St George's Day raid on Zeebrugge.

The Patrol Monument, along with its fellow monuments in Calais and in New York Harbour, symbolise the strength of our alliance across the Atlantic. Of the bonds which were forged during those dark times. They stand as a silent testament to the central role of our naval forces in fighting tyranny and delivering freedom to Europe.

0 comments

Post a comment


26 JUL 2014

Talking energy at Tilmanstone Fete

Every year I look forward to the Tilmanstone Fete. I always enjoy seeing the community come together and support a fantastic event which raises money for the local church. With live music and classic fete activities such as bouncy castles and a tombola, I wasn't surprised to see so many people pop along.

However, the work of an MP doesn't stop for community events, and I had many local residents come up to me to raise their concerns about energy generation. These are concerns I share.

It is important that we keep the lights on and have secure energy supplies. Residents felt that solar energy would be great in the brownfield former coal mine areas. I believe that fracking is worth exploring in principle, yet must be safe - so not where there is a water aquifer below us on which our drinking water depends.

0 comments

Post a comment


26 JUL 2014

Dover Regatta

Today, I stopped by the Dover Regatta. Organised by the Dover Harbour Board and Dover District Council, and sponsored by the Dover Mercury, it was an excellent feel-good event. It had a fantastic vintage car show, live music and concluded with an air display.

I was really impressed by the number of local residents who came out and enjoyed the sunshine at the Regatta. After the Dover Music Festival, there is no doubt as to the strength of our community spirit. Things have come a long way in Dover, and there is a real sense of momentum in town that things will continue to thrive.

0 comments

Post a comment


25 JUL 2014

Training to become Dementia Friends

Dementia affects so many more people as we are living longer. The condition is distressing for both those who suffer from it as well as for their family and friends. My father suffered from Alzheimer's disease for the last decade of his life so I have had personal experience of this terrible disease.

This is why I and local Conservatives were proud to take part in training to be Dementia Friends so we can be there for people who suffer from dementia.

Dementia-Friendly Deal is a fantastic initiative which is doing important work not only to help both those affected and their families, but also to educate local organisations so that we can all help dementia-sufferers live life to the full.

0 comments

Post a comment


25 JUL 2014

Meeting Dover Medical Centre patient group

Today, I met with local patients at Dover Medical Practice. As medical provider Concordia has served notice to quit providing the practice, patients are fearful for the future.

They were eager to tell me of the excellent service they had receive from Dover Medical Practice, and how the practice's specialisation in people who do not speak English as a first language and ailments that affect people from Eastern Europe and Nepal was too important to be lost.

I support their concerns. I updated the group on recent meetings I have had with the Secretary of State for Health and NHS England where I have made the case for Dover Medical Practice to be supported. I will continue to fight for a fair share of healthcare here in Dover.

0 comments

Post a comment


15 JUL 2014

Live Web Chat with Castle Students

It was great to take part in a live web chat with students of Castle Community College to answer their political questions.

I was quizzed on a range of topics from school pupils from Years 7 to 12 on local and national issues. Students asked about my greatest achievement as an MP and why I wanted to go into politics, as well as what I thought about issues affecting young people such as tuition fees and restrictions on sugary foods to cut obesity.

Also high on the students' agenda were local issues and how I could help make Dover and Deal a better place. I told them I was proud of the steps I had taken to get a community port in Dover and get high speed trains to Deal. I also told them I wanted to make Dover a Jewel in the Crown of England again and bring down Burlington House to help transform Dover town centre.

I really enjoyed taking part in the live web chat with all the Castle students. Many say that young people aren't interested in politics but the students I talked to at Castle certainly proved them wrong. They weren't afraid to challenge me or give their own opinion.

It was fantastic to take part and a great idea so pupils can get their questions answered directly. The teacher wanted to do another web chat next term and I really look forward to doing another one with students soon.

0 comments

Post a comment


13 JUL 2014

Deal Barracks 25th Anniversary Concert

It was an honour to attend the 25th Anniversary concert in Deal on Sunday to commemorate the victims of the IRA bombing of Deal Barracks in 1989.

On the morning of the 22nd September 1989, the Provision IRA exploded a 15lb bomb at the Royal Marine Barracks in Deal, at the School of Music building, killing 11 Marine bandsmen and wounding a further 21 soldiers. The Royal Marines mark the tragic event every year with a march through Deal and a concert and rededication service at the Bandstand on Walmer Green.

It was an honour to lay a wreath and commemorate those bandsmen who died at Deal Barracks twenty five years ago.

It was a fantastic concert and a fitting tribute to those who were killed by this hideous attack. This bomb touched our community deeply and so many people were affected in its aftermath. Tragically, many of its victims were only in their teens.

I really enjoyed all the music from the Royal Marines Bands and the moving rededication ceremony at the bandstand. So many residents turned out to pay their respects. They always welcome back the bandsmen and remember their sacrifice.

We will never forget what happened and will always honour their memory.

0 comments

Post a comment


06 JUL 2014

Dogs Trust Micro Chipping Event

I really enjoyed paying a visit to a dog micro chipping event at Jolleys Pet Superstore in Dover. The event, organised by the Dog's Trust, offered free micro chipping to dog owners. I brought along his own terrier, Star, to the event and met fellow owners.

From 6th April 2016, the Government is making it compulsory for all dogs to be fitted with microchips. Chipping helps keep dogs safer and helps them to be found quicker if they are lost or stolen. I enjoyed going down with Star and seeing more dog owners having their pets fitted with microchips. Knowing Star has a microchip helps keep my mind at ease and she enjoyed meeting other dogs at the event there too.

0 comments

Post a comment


06 JUL 2014

Supporting Help For Heroes

I joined volunteers and young cadets in Dover's Asda on Sunday to help raise money for the Help for Heroes charity. Volunteers were welcomed to the store to raise money through collections and selling merchandise.

It was great to support Yvonne and the cadets who work so hard raising money for this fantastic charity. They do really amazing work. I pay tribute to all those who have been injured fighting to protect us. The public in Asda were so generous and strongly showed their support to the troops. Help for Heroes do amazing work for all our injured service men and women.

0 comments

Post a comment


04 JUL 2014

Collecting for Dover Foodbank

I joined volunteers from Dover Foodbank on Friday to collect food donations.

The Foodbank organised a special collection at Tesco in Whitfield. On Thursday, the volunteers managed to collect 380kg of food for local people in need. The top foods items needed were tinned fruits, sugar and puddings, as well as hot drinks such as tea and coffee.

It is an excellent example of our community coming together to help those who need it most. I was incredibly impressed with the selflessness of the volunteers and their determination to help to all those who need it. This country has a proud history of charity and help for the neediest. Dover Foodbank is another example of the compassion people have for each other.

0 comments

Post a comment


01 JUL 2014

Solar Panels at Snowdown Colliery

I met with Coal Authority representatives and former miners last week to discuss plans for new solar farm at the Snowdown Colliery site. The plan being explored is to develop the old Snowdown Colliery site with new PVC solar panels to provide clean, renewable energy for the National Grid. The Colliery site, finally closed as a coal mine in 1987, is now classed as a brownfield site. New solar panels at Snowdown would see the area becoming a producer of energy for the first time in over the quarter of a decade.

This new solar farm could signal the start of a brighter future for Snowdown. We cannot change what happened in the past, but we can change the future.

Solar panels can provide clean and renewable energy generation and would bring more jobs and money to our corner of Kent. It is best they are placed on brownfield sites such as at Snowdown than on our countryside and greenfield sites. That's why these plans are so interesting.

0 comments

Post a comment


30 JUN 2014

Opening Multipanel in Eythorne

It was great to be joined by the Skills Minister to officially open Multipanel's factory. Multipanel's facilities and assembly line are state of the art. They have to be seen to be believed.

It's great news that more and more businesses are 'reshoring' to the UK. With firms like Multipanel, the UK's manufacturing future looks so much brighter. Multipanel's plant means 70 new jobs for our area. We need to encourage more companies, like Multipanel, to relocate to our corner of Kent, bringing jobs and money for businesses and local people.

0 comments

Post a comment


30 JUN 2014

East Kent College Dover Campus

It was a pleasure to see East Kent College's Dover plans for expansion with Skills Minister, Matt Hancock. The College is going from strength to strength, shown by their recent Ofsted results. These developments will help provide even better facilities for students to get on with their studies and do really well. It was great to chat to students and apprentices at the Motorbike Repair Centre who are learning crucial skills for their careers and later life.

The Skills Minister and I were really impressed with the development plans. These new facilities will help students in their studies and training and provide a great platform for the College to succeed further.

0 comments

Post a comment


30 JUN 2014

Opening Exhibition at Dover Castle

It was fantastic to open John Burrow's art exhibition at Dover Castle on Saturday evening. The exhibition contained landscapes of local landmarks, including scenes from Dover, Deal and Walmer Castles. John, a local artist based in Deal, showed me examples of his work which were inspired in the local area.

The exhibition was held in partnership with English Heritage to showcase the best examples of local art. He fantastically depicts our local area and landmarks. So much of what it means to be British is tied up in our white cliffs and in our castles in Dover, Deal and Walmer. I thank John and English Heritage in putting this event on and letting local people see them in all their glory in these paintings.

I like John's work so much I have even used his paintings for my own Christmas cards. I urge anyone to come down to see the paintings for themselves.

0 comments

Post a comment


29 JUN 2014

Deal Fairy Walk Campaign

It was great to join the Fairy Walk on Deal seafront to campaign to ensure that dog owners clear up their dog mess around the town. With campaigner Kerry Rubins and local children, I took part in the campaign for dog owners to take more responsibility to clear up their dog mess and leave Deal a tidier place. Children dressed up as fairies and superheroes and paraded on the seafront to protest against dog fouling in the town.

We were joined by Deal mascot Scooby Dude to highlight the problem. Deal seafront is a fantastic place but can be spoiled by dog mess and rubbish. As a dog owner myself, I know the importance of ensuring you tidy up after your pet and don't leave the mess for someone else to deal with.

This is not just a tidiness issue. Children's health and eyesight can be threatened by contact with dog mess. Hopefully, all the children in their costumes got this message across loud and clear – that dog owners should take responsibility and deal with dog mess to protect children and leave our town a better place.

0 comments

Post a comment


29 JUN 2014

Armed Forces Day Service - Deal Pier

It was an honour to attend the Deal Armed Forces Day service on Sunday. There was a deeply moving Drumhead service on the apron of Deal Pier to recreate the traditional military church service conducted by soldiers in the field. The service honoured the work of the British Armed Forces and current service personnel and veterans who have fought for their country.

The sixth Annual Armed Forces Day took place on Saturday to raise awareness of the work of the Armed Forces. It was an excellent service and really well organised by the Royal British Legion and our own veterans' organisation here in Deal. The Armed Forces fight for our freedom and security and we should never forget the work they do. Armed Forces personel put their lives at risk every day to keep us safe. We celebrate their work and pay tribute to those service personnel who have made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

0 comments

Post a comment


28 JUN 2014

Whitfield Fun Day


I really enjoyed going to the Whitfield Fun Day and brought along my dog, Star, to enjoy the fun. There was so much fun to be had for all the family – I particularly enjoyed the dog show on the day. I also enjoyed chatting to Whitfield Parish Chairman at the Fun Day and luckily the sun was shining throughout.

0 comments

Post a comment


28 JUN 2014

Capel Community Fun Day

It was great fun to attend Capel Community Fun Day at the QEII playing fields. It was an excellent village event for all local residents and I really enjoyed going along with Cllr Sue Chandler to enjoy the afternoon.

There was so much going on, from live bands to dog demonstrations. I enjoyed trying the Women's Institute Cakes and entering the Doctor Who scarf competition. The sun was shining and everyone was allowed in free of charge. It was fantastic to see the strong community spirit in Capel Village and I hope everyone enjoyed themselves.

0 comments

Post a comment


15 JUN 2014

Cruise Ship Calls at Dover

I called in at Dover Port to see how well cruise ships at handled in harbour. It was great to visit the cruise ship and see the state of the art facilities on offer. Accompanied by James Ryeland of ship service company George Hammond PLC, I toured the ship to see the facilities on offer and take in the incredible view across the Port.

The cruise industry is a growing part of our local economy. Cruise calls bring tourists to our town and provide more jobs and money in servicing and visits. The best view to be had of Dover is from the Western arm of the harbour. It was great to appreciate Dover in all its glory and underlines how the whole area could be developed into a really special place.

0 comments

Post a comment


15 JUN 2014

Beach Street Safety Concerns

It was great to meet with residents and businesses to hear their concerns about the dangerous stretch of road near the Royal Hotel in Beach Street, Deal. I listened to residents and local businesses who are concerned about the danger of the corner. I have now pledged to take up the matter on their behalf and raise the problem with Kent County Council.

The corner on Beach Street by the Royal Hotel is very dangerous. A pedestrian was recently struck down by a cyclist. The road is narrow and the pavement is low. People on foot are at risk from bike and car. I was glad to see the problem for myself and will be taking this matter up with the County Council. Our local roads should be as safe as possible. I hope the County Council will investigate and act to deal with this problem.

0 comments

Post a comment


08 JUN 2014

Going Bananas at Dover Docks

On Sunday, I paid a visit to Hammonds' Wharf to see how the company is unloading fresh produce at Dover Docks.

It was great to meet with workers down at Dover Docks to see how bananas were unloaded from abroad. They do their job with such skill and know exactly how to use the machinery they have to unload the cargo. The company deals with fresh produce from all over the world at Dover Port. In 2011, a staggering 825 million estimated loose bananas were discharged at Dover to distribute at British supermarkets.

It was fantastic to see how quickly bananas and other fresh produce are unloaded at Dover Docks. The work they do at Dover Docks is so important to getting the goods we need into the UK. The sheer amount of fresh produce which the Docks deals with is incredible, supplying businesses up and down the country.

0 comments

Post a comment


17 MAY 2014

Dover Marina Open Day

I really enjoyed visiting the Dover Marina Open Day on Saturday. It was a fantastic showcase for the Port and a great day for anyone to find out more about sailing and marine activities in Dover. The sun was shining and I chatted to Neil Wiggins, Chairman of the People's Port Trust, about the future development at Dover Port.

It was also really encouraging to hear from industry experts how the Marina is helping to boost tourism in our area. The Marina Hotel on the seafront is attracting tourists to Dover. The Marina is one of the gems of our town and it was fantastic to see so many people come down to enjoy the day for free. The Open Day offered sailing and yacht tasters, as well as motor boat displays and Police boat demonstrations. It showed how much there is to get involved with and see at Dover Marina.

0 comments

Post a comment


16 MAY 2014

Dover Sea Cadets Awards

I was honoured to attend the annual awards presentation for the TS Lynx Sea Cadets in Dover. All the Cadets at TS Lynx put in so much hard work to win their awards. It was fantastic to speak to the Cadets and their leaders about all the different activities and responsibilities they have had to develop to win their awards and all the new skills they have had to learn.

The TS Lynx Sea Cadets are a real asset to our town. They are committed young men and women with ideas of service and duty. It was a pleasure to see them win their awards and be rewarded all the effort they have put it.

0 comments

Post a comment


16 MAY 2014

Medical Engineering Tech of Dover

I really enjoyed visiting Medical Engineering Technologies. The company test medical devices and packaging and provides solutions for scientific companies. It was great to hear that they are expanding and looking to invest in the business. This means more jobs and money for our area.

It's great that MET are also looking to export. Getting our exports up is a crucial path to boosting our economy and driving our recovery. This means real money for our area and more jobs for local people. It is a key Government target to increase the UK exports to £1 trillion by 2020. We need to help more businesses like MET to expand and power our increase in exports.

0 comments

Post a comment


16 MAY 2014

Visit to Pilgrims Hospice

It was inspiring to visit the Pilgrims Hospice. It provides dedicated hospice care for those in the East Kent and is a vital asset in our community. It was great to speak to health professionals and those in the hospice about the care they receive. Good quality palliative care should be a right for those who are coming to the end of their lives.

The work done at Pilgrims Hospice is going to become even more important in the coming years as our population ages. In the next 20 years, the percentage of people over 85 will double. Good quality end of life care from charities such as the Pilgrims Hospice is a crucial part of easing the suffering of those who are dying and treating them with respect.

0 comments

Post a comment


10 MAY 2014

Dover Street Pastors Service

It was great to go to a commissioning service in Dover for new Street Pastors. Dover Street Pastors are a charity of all types of Christians in Dover. They send out teams of volunteers every Saturday night from local churches to care for people in need on the streets. They operate in crucial areas in Dover, such as the High Street and Sea Front to help those who need care, or simply provide an ear to listen.

It was a fantastic evening with people who care about our local community and want to make a difference. Good neighbours who care strengthen our society and help those in need. The evening was a great example of Christian charity in action. I'm sure the new pastors will make a positive difference in our town.

0 comments

Post a comment


05 MAY 2014

Launch of Walmer Brocante

It was a perfect Spring Day to visit to visit the opening day of the Walmer Brocante. Last year's event was such a success as local residents snapped up antiques, quality second hand goods and collectables from charities and local traders. This year's Bank Holiday Brocante launch on Walmer Green was no different. It was a packed success and a perfect community day. I really enjoyed chatting to local traders and browsing for quality bargains.

0 comments

Post a comment


02 MAY 2014

Ask Charlie Event: Dover Town Hall

 

It was great to answer local people's questions at the 'Ask Charlie' event at Dover Town Hall. Top of the agenda was the future of our Port and a fair share of healthcare in Dover and Deal but we questions were answered on a whole range of topics. It was a brilliant question evening and people let me know their strength of feeling towards getting a community say and investment in our Port, as well as protecting our health services. I was joined by NHS and Port representatives on the platform. Over 250 attended and people told me they got a lot out of the event.

After the Q&A session, it was great to join friends at Dover's first ever micro pub, Rack of Ale. There were a great selection of ales and even better company. The pub is just off the Dover High Street on Park Place and we chatted with landlord, Steve Jenkins. Micro-pubs are a success story for our pub trade, keeping it small and simple. It's great to see the Rack of Ale doing so well and it's well worth a visit!

0 comments

Post a comment


02 MAY 2014

Visit to Deal Foodbank

I was joined by Welfare Reform Minister, Lord Freud, to see the amazing work being done at Deal Foodbank. Schools, churches, businesses and families have all donated to the Food Bank to provide food to local people who do not have enough. The Bank is run by dedicated volunteers and care professionals. It is an excellent example of our community coming together and of Christian charity. Food Banks are a crucial lifeline to people who are in short-term need and you can donate and find out more at the link below.

http://dealarea.foodbank.org.uk/news-events?newsid=42402 

0 comments

Post a comment


25 APR 2014

Deal Society 50th Anniversary

It was fantastic to join the celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Deal Society at Astor. It was a wonderful evening of celebration and it showed just how many people have pride in the town. Mayor of Deal, Marlene Burnham, was at the event helping too and a great time was had by all.

The Deal Society was founded 50 years ago in May to save the historic heart of Deal from new development. This would have destroyed the heart of the town and the new Deal Society stopped this from happening. Since then, the society has gone from strength to strength helping to maintain the appeal of Deal and Walmer. It was a pleasure to attend and here's to the next 50 years of the Deal Society!

0 comments

Post a comment


25 APR 2014

Viking Recruitment: Fire Training Centre

It was great to open the Fire Training Centre at Viking Recruitment in Dover. Viking is an incredible expanding business and is creating more jobs and money in Dover. They are constructing a new, state of the art maritime training and conference facility. Included in the Maritime Skills Academy is a new specialist fire fighting centre. This will meet increased demand for training and development. It was really encouraging to see how their new development is boosting training and new careers in our area.

Viking recently secured a £1.3 million loan from the East Kent Expansion Fund. This is part of the Government's regional growth fund to help small businesses. This money is helping Viking to expand and create jobs and money in our corner of Kent. We need to do everything we can to help successful businesses like Viking to get the funding they need to grow and boost our economy.

0 comments

Post a comment


14 APR 2014

Deal Breast Feeding Group

It was a real experience to join new mums and tots at the Deal Breastfeeding Support Group this Monday. I joined a session at St George's Church in Deal to celebrate the group's second anniversary.

The group, led by Candice Roberts of local bus fame, seeks to provide a safe and friendly environment for new mothers from both Deal and Dover. It aims to help mums on breastfeeding and looking after young children. Their weekly sessions provide friendly support and advice to mothers from Deal and Dover.

It was incredible to see the work being done by the group for mums and tots from Dover and Deal. Candice and her volunteers have been giving their time over the past two years to provide support to mothers and their little ones. It was a real pleasure to join the group to celebrate its second birthday.

0 comments

Post a comment


11 APR 2014

Aycliffe Residents' Forum

I attended a packed meeting of the Aycliffe Residents Forum on Friday. I was proud to receive a petition from Aycliffe residents with 150 signatures, calling for a new children's playground. I heard the views of over 100 people in the Aycliffe area who attended the meeting. Top of residents' concerns was the removal of the children's playground in Aycliffe.

I received the petition, organised by Millie Cole, 15, calling for a new children's play area in Aycliffe. It's important Aycliffe's councillors listen carefully to residents' concerns about planning matters. It is also important that they take up residents' concerns and keep them informed about planning applications.

There was a lot of anger and a widespread belief that the councillors hadn't been active on the concerns being expressed. People said they felt very let down. It is clear that there is very strong feeling on this matter and people in Aycliffe's concerns must be addressed.

0 comments

Post a comment


10 APR 2014

Meeting with Deputy Mayor of Calais

 

I travelled to Calais to meet the Deputy Mayor of the region. We discussed how we can work together to tackle the problems of illegal immigration and refugees. And the need for Britain's borders to be kept safe and secure. British immigration controls at both Dover and Calais play a vital role in tackling the problem of illegal migration at source. I made a strong case to the Deputy Mayor that the build up of refugees at squalid camps in Calais is not acceptable.

We agreed that more needs to be done in Calais to ensure that refugees are not able to use the Port to gain illegal entry into the UK. People in Dover will remember how refugee camps at Sangatte between 1999 and 2002 acted a magnet for refugees wanting to come to Britain. I saw the same thing myself when I visited 'The Jungle' refugee camp at Calais in 2009. Refugees were living in desperate conditions in Calais and attempting to travel to the UK. The closure of the 'Jungle Camp' contributed to migration to Dover from Calais reducing by 80% in just one year.

That is why I met with the Deputy Mayor to discuss sustainable, long-term solutions to this problem. There have been worrying reports that more refugees are gathering around Calais and being exploited by people traffickers. Many of these traffickers offer a false dream of life in the UK. We need to work together to crack these international criminal gangs. We also need to work to ensure that no new refugee camps are able to spring up in Calais again, where refugees live in squalid conditions and try repeatedly to enter the UK.

We need to work to break the criminal gangs targeting refugees in Calais –they are the real villains.

0 comments

Post a comment


05 APR 2014

Deal Crocus Walk - For Breakthorugh Breast Cancer

 It was a great day for the Deal Crocus Walk raising money for Breakthrough Breast Cancer. It was an amazing community event and shows our determination to d beat this horrible disease. There's nothing better than walking along the White Cliffs on a nice day, especially when walking for a great cause like this.

 

 

 

It was a fantastic atmosphere and hopefully I can raise as much money as possible for this important cause. Breast cancer affects 12,000 new women every year and Breakthrough Breast Cancer are leading the charge in fighting the illness. You still have the opportunity to sponsor me at my Just Giving Page. All proceeds will go to help fund treatment for breast cancer sufferers – and help save lives. Particular congratulations are due to Kerry Rubens who has done an amazing job and inspired us all.

https://www.justgiving.com/Charlie-Elphicke/ 

0 comments

Post a comment


04 APR 2014

East Kent Railway: Iain Duncan Smith

Today the Secretary for Work and Pensions, Iain Duncan Smith joined me to visit the East Kent Railway (EKR). The railway is a fantastic heritage line, running 2 miles through Shepherdswell and Eythorne. It is an idyllic line and it has plans to keep developing.

The EKR is helping to train local apprentices for the future and has an amazing scheme. Apprenticeships are a key tool for helping young people into work and fulfilling their aspirations. The number of apprentice starts in Dover and Deal has doubled since the General Election, providing more local young people with ladders to success in the world of work. Iain and I were delighted to see the progress made at the EKR in developing apprenticeships and life chances for our young people.

0 comments

Post a comment


29 MAR 2014

Dover AFC vs Boreham Wood

It was great to see Dover play Boreham Wood at Crabble on Saturday. There were some good chances but we couldn't quite finish Boreham Wood off and the match finished 0-0. DAFC stay at 5th and in the final play-off place.

Dover's next game is away at Bishop Stortford next Saturday and we need a win to definitely stay in the play-offs. I'll be following closely – Come On you Whites!

0 comments

Post a comment


14 MAR 2014

Visiting Choo Choos Nursery in River

 

I had a great time visiting Choo Choos Nursery in River this morning. The Nursery has just received £40,000 funding from the Expansion East Kent Regional Growth Fund. This financial support will help Choo Choos Nursery expand their provision and allow them to offer full-day, flexible childcare. It is great that this expansion will support 20 jobs in the local area. I went along to congratulate them on this, and the work they do.

Choo Choos currently caters for 50 children from 0-5 years. Their childcare provision is superb and all the staff were so welcoming. They care deeply about all the children they look after, and it is great for mums and dads in the area. This new funding will help the Nursery offer even better teaching experiences with new staff and resources. It really was a pleasure to see how the Regional Growth Fund is helping businesses in our corner of Kent.

0 comments

Post a comment


07 MAR 2014

Jobs Fair at Dover Town Hall

I was delighted to host my second jobs fair at Dover Town Hall in Biggin Street on Friday. The Town Hall was packed with over 1,300 job seekers and people looking for a change of career. The event allowed people to network and get in touch with over 30 firms who were looking to fill vacancies.

The Fair was a massive success. After the interest in last year's Fair. I was keen to organise another event to help get jobs for local people. It's great that unemployment has fallen in Dover since the last election, but there's still much to do to help more people find work. I glad to do anything I can to get people looking for new jobs in touch, face to face, with businesses.

Businesses told me they received many high quality CVs. I hope this translates into more jobs for local people in Dover and many high quality additions to businesses' staff. A big thank you to everyone who turned up and for all businesses who set up a stall at the event.

0 comments

Post a comment


07 MAR 2014

Visit to Multipanel UK in Eythorne

 

I really enjoyed visiting Multipanel UK's new plant in Eythorne. The company specialises in high level manufacturing, making aluminium panels for the construction industry. Multipanel established the plant in Eythorne last year, bringing skilled jobs and £12.5 million investment to the area.

It's very encouraging to see British manufacturing is on the rise again. Multipanel's new plant in Eythorne is a perfect example of how manufacturing is returning to the UK as their production was previously based overseas. We need to encourage more companies to start-up and relocate to our corner of Kent. We need their investment and expertise to bring more jobs and money to our area.

0 comments

Post a comment


07 MAR 2014

Deal Crocus Walk - Breast Cancer

 

I am always inspired by the people who fundraise for Breakthrough Breast Cancer. These people are often cancer survivors themselves or have had their lives touched by cancer.

This year I didn't want to simply show my support. I wanted to make a difference, and so have chosen to take part in the Deal Crocus Walk to fundraise for Breakthrough Breast Cancer myself. Just under 12,000 women still succumb to breast cancer every year in Britain. Great progress has been made but there is still so much more that needs to be done.

The walk is on the 5th April and I'd be very grateful if you would sponsor me to take part in the Deal Crocus Walk and help raise funds for this vital cause. Please go to my just giving page and donate.

0 comments

Post a comment


06 MAR 2014

Herald of Free Enterprise Service

 

Today is the 27th anniversary of the Herald of Free Enterprise tragedy. In 1987, minutes after MS Herald of Free Enterprise left the port of Zeebrugge, the ship capsized, killing 193 people. I attended the memorial service in St Mary's Church, Dover, in commemoration of those passengers and crew who died.

The disaster badly affected our area and many people in Dover lost loved ones. It was a moving service and scores of people attended to pay their respects. It was good to talk to local residents after the service about the tragedy and its legacy. We will never forget what happened.

0 comments

Post a comment


22 FEB 2014

Opening Eythorne Post Office

 

It was a pleasure officially to open the new Post Office in Eythorne. Our Post Offices are centres of community life in villages like Eythorne. It is great to see it back serving the village. After years of decline under Labour, the Government is safeguarding our Post Office system and investing £640 million to maintain our network and modernise Post Office branches.

0 comments

Post a comment


22 FEB 2014

Visiting Flooded Areas

 

While most of the media attention has focussed on flooding in Somerset and the Thames Valley, we have also seen flooding locally. There has been particularly bad flooding in Eastry, Alkham, Mongeham and East Studdal. Lawns, drives and roads have all been affected. It is great that the community has rallied round to protect homes and businesses from damage. The Army, the Enrionment Agency and Councils have all helped flood water spreading.

It was great to see how neighbours have got together to help each other when in trouble. It was good to speak to Wayne, pictured with me in Eastry, about the flooding and the way the communityhas responded so quickly.

0 comments

Post a comment


15 FEB 2014

British Army for Alkham Flooding

Following the dreadful weather in recent weeks, there has been flooding in Alkham. Constituents have written to me worried that community assets such as Alkham Village Hall could be at risk. We must do everything that we can to protect homes and property from the flood risk.

I went to Alkham this morning to see the issue for myself. It was great to see the Army doing such great work to protect communities from the floods. It is really positive to know that they have been so quick to respond to the floods and our towns and villages should not hesitate to call for their aid. I discussed the threat of further flooding to Dover and River from the Dour and I am pleased the Army is doing everything it can to stop this happening.

0 comments

Post a comment


14 FEB 2014

Talk It Out Group receive £500

The Talk it Out Group in Deal and Walmer is a discussion group for people suffering from depression. It provides vital support for those in our community who have felt lonely or beyond help. I am glad to support the group in any way I can.

Brendan Carrick, owner of the Walmer Castle, provides fantastic support to the group. He has given £500 to help support Talk it Out and ensure they can continue to meet. I am pictured here with Brendan and members of Talk It Out with the £500 donation. It was great to go down to the see members of the group again and I hope they will continue to grow and expand. They provide crucial support to many people overcome their problems through friendship and discussion.

0 comments

Post a comment


08 FEB 2014

Dover Winter Ales Festival

It was a pleasure to visit the 21st annual White Cliffs Festival of Real Ales, organised by the Campaign for Real Ale. The Festival has been hosted by the Dover, Deal and Sandwich branch of the organisation for the past 21 years at Dover Town Hall.

There were a magnificent range of local and national winter and strong ales on display. It was great to see so many small and micro-businesses displaying their wares. 900 people attended and the event was again a real success.

It is a good step that Labour's beer duty escalator has now been abolished and 1p was taken off the price of a pint at the last Budget. We must do everything we can to help our brewing industry to thrive. It was great to see so much of their success at the Festival. I look forward to returning next year!

0 comments

Post a comment


08 FEB 2014

National Libraries Day at Deal Library

This Saturday was National Libraries Day. Established two years ago, it is a day to celebrate our libraries and the work of librarians. I was delighted to be joined by the Libraries Minister, Ed Vaizey, at Deal Library to mark the day.

 

Our Libraries are valuable public resources, promoting both learning and leisure. They have played a vital role in our communities for over a century, celebrating our culture and our literature. In Kent, there are 99 libraries and the county has kept all its libraries since 2010. It is great that Deal Library was recently refurbished and I enjoyed visiting again.

0 comments