Hollingbourne Parish Council has received the following newsletter from our local MP. Please Read More for the text of the newsletter.
Helen Whately MP: working hard for Faversham and Mid Kent
The beginning of the year is a time to take stock and plan for the year ahead. I’ve been thinking about what I want to achieve for our area in 2018, reflecting on the concerns that people have raised with me, the challenges we’re facing and the opportunities coming up.
Healthcare is top of mind, after a tough winter and with consultations due on East Kent hospitals and stroke services. I want to make sure those plans will give people in Kent the best healthcare available in the UK. I also want to see Government ambitions for better mental healthcare being realised locally. We need work to begin on new schools in Maidstone, so we don’t end up with a shortage of good school places. I want to see progress on infrastructure like a potential Maidstone relief road, and more lorry parking places. And of course there’s making sure we get a Brexit deal that works for Kent, particularly agreement on customs that avoids queues at channel crossings, terms of trade that enable local companies to keep doing business with the EU and an agriculture policy that works for local farmers.
Looking further ahead, we have a duty to leave the environment in a better condition for the next generation. We’ve been hearing about the huge amount of plastic in world’s oceans, which is dangerous for marine life. I’m doing my bit and giving up using plastic bottles for Lent – and if I can, for the whole year.
In this newsletter you can read updates on my campaigns for an end to lorry fly-parking, better care for people with mental health problems, a good school place for every child and investment in roads and infrastructure.
Fix lorry fly-parking
Following the terrible accident on the A2, in which three people died and another was seriously injured after crashing into a parked lorry, I called a House of Commons debate on lorry parking. I said we need more lorry parks and strict rules to make sure drivers use them. The roads minister, Jesse Norman, agreed with me that: “Enforcement against inappropriate parking must go alongside the provision of truck parks,” and assured MPs that the Government is working hard to fix the problem.
Let’s work together to break traffic gridlock in and around Maidstone
The traffic in and around Maidstone is blighting lives for people who live and work here. People waste hours in traffic jams. That’s where we are now, and with more people moving to the area it’s only going to get worse. Kent’s County Town needs proper investment in its transport infrastructure. The much discussed Leeds-Langley Relief Road could be a crucial part of the answer, alongside better bus services and cycling routes to give people alternatives to driving.
My fellow Maidstone MP Helen Grant and I called a meeting with the Leaders of Kent County Council and Maidstone Borough Council to bring the local authorities together and overcome historic differences. We agreed to work together on a plan and a public consultation about overcoming Maidstone’s traffic gridlock.
Scale of solar farm proposal is worrying
I am shocked by the scale of the proposal to build a huge solar farm at Cleve Hill. I am keen to see more of our energy coming from renewable sources, and I welcome clean, cheap, unsubsidised energy. But I’m concerned about how a solar farm the size of 400 football pitches will affect wildlife on the salt marshes.
At a public meeting I attended in December in Graveney, I heard people’s fears about the impact of such a huge project on the village, the countryside and wildlife. I will be working to make sure local people’s voices are heard in the planning process.
£13 million funding boost for new mums’ mental health
Having a baby is an emotional time, and nothing can prepare you for it. Twenty per cent of women experience mental ill health during pregnancy and in their first year after giving birth. I’m pleased that the Government has made £23 million of funding available to help 30,000 more women get specialist help. We’ve also seen improvements locally in treatment for eating disorders. This is one part of a wider commitment to spending an extra £1.25 billion on perinatal and children’s mental health, to improve care and tackle inequalities between physical and mental health treatment.
This is good progress, but there is more to do. As Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Mental Health I will keep working to make things better for people with mental health problems.
Kingsfield care home to close
Around 50 residents of Kingsfield Care Home in Faversham were told they had just 28 days to move out of the home after structural problems with the building were discovered. Moving frail, elderly people into new accommodation can be very traumatic and carries serious health risks. So I dropped by the care home to speak to staff and check that they are doing everything possible to make sure the move goes smoothly. I was reassured by what I heard, but if you know someone who lives or works at the home and is not getting the help they need, then do please get in touch.
Minister to personally review case for new Maidstone school
Children in Maidstone desperately need a new school open by 2019, but the proposals have been delayed by planning wrangles. I recently met with schools Minister, Lord Agnew, to try and make some progress and he has agreed to personally look into the situation by carrying out a case review. I’m optimistic we will get some progress soon
Give up plastic for Lent to save our oceans
A million plastic bottles are sold per minute and less than half are collected for recycling. These end up in landfill or in the ocean, damaging the environment and harming wildlife and people too. Did you know you’ll eat 8.3 pieces of plastic in the average Whitstable Bay oyster?
The Government has committed to eliminating unneccessary plastic waste by 2042, and I’m doing my bit by giving up plastic for Lent. I’ll be saying no to plastic shopping bags, straws and drinks bottles. I’ve written to local schools encouraging them to get involved and teach children about the dangers of plastic.Even changes as simple as packing your own lunches in reusable container, using foil or paper instead of clingfilm, swapping plastic-packaged food for tins or cardboard-packaged alternatives, and keeping old shopping bags, can have a big impact. We all have a responsibility to look after the environment, so I urge you to do your bit too.
You can contact Helen Whately at firstname.lastname@example.org
Pictured below is Mrs Whately at Woodcut Farm in Hollingbourne which is to be the site of a Roxhill PLC warehousing and distribution complex which she opposed.