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.
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