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.
Here you can read about local news matters and what I've been up to. You can make comments too. I'd welcome your feedback, so please do feel free to comment!