Stronger transport links are central to delivering more jobs and money for our area. That's why I work hard to deliver road and rail improvements.
So far it's made a real difference. We fought a long battle to get the High Speed train sweeping into Deal all day, every day. This has boosted the local economy. More people than ever now commute to work and it's so much easier for tourists to visit.
This is a far cry from how things were. The previous Government had refused to extend the High Speed service to Deal, describing it as a village. Yet by working together, finally in August 2011 fast trains finally started running to Deal, Walmer and Martin Mill as a peak commuting service. This cut journey times to London by half an hour. It was an incredible success.
The next step was to extend it again – this time to an all-day service. Another campaign saw Transport Ministers announce the move from January 2015.
This background is important – because the pace of positive change to Deal's economy has increased alongside. Better transport links is one of the reasons our area has attracted more than £500 million of investment in recent years, including 7,700 extra local jobs. Having fought so hard for these successes, it's vital we build on them.
That's why I have held urgent talks with rail minister Andrew Jones after it emerged the number of direct High Speed trains between Deal and London could reduce in future. The Minister was left in no doubt about my strength of feeling on this issue – and I hope that we will now see action.
I also called on him to invest more in local stations. Led by Helen Charlton's volunteer groups Deal Station Gardeners and the Clean-up Crew, Deal station has been much more cared for recently. More investment is planned with a new deck and steps, while major improvements to the footbridge at Dover Priory are also in the pipeline. To address antisocial behaviour, a senior officer from British Transport Police has been allocated to Deal for the first time.
Our area deserves the best possible transport links. We've achieved a lot on rail. Yet our roads need investment too. We need to see the A2 dualled all the way to the port. We need a better road between Dover and Deal – because the A258 is so overcrowded and dangerous. And we need to see the M20 lorry parks that have long been promised finally delivered.
These schemes are vital to unlocking our area's potential. Because prosperity comes down a train line and a dual carriageway. Transport investment pays for itself and boosts economies in communities like ours.
We need to keep up the momentum – so we continue to speed along the road to greater prosperity in the years to come.