Autumn Message from local MP Mrs Helen Whately.

Hollingbourne is in the Faversham and Kent Constituency of Mrs Helen Whately who was first elected in May 2015. The Constituency may disappear and Hollingbourne it is proposed that Hollingbourne becomes part of the new Constituency of Tonbridge and the Weald. Please Read More for Mrs Whately’s Autumn Message.

It’s back to the whirl of Westminster after the summer recess and I’ve been getting stuck in. A new Prime Minister at the helm of a new Cabinet, means there are fresh opportunities to shape the Government’s agenda.

With that in mind, I called a House of Commons debate on fly-parking – lorries parking in inappropriate places – to push sorting this problem out to the top of the Roads Minister’s to-do list. As people living in parts of Kent know, trucks fill every lay-by, line up on the hard shoulder of slip roads, crawl onto the verges of country lanes and tuck themselves away in housing estates. None of these places have facilities for drivers, so as well as the problem of huge HGVs parked on the roadside, there’s also littering and fouling of verges and hedges with human waste. Residents nearby are understandably upset, and it’s pretty bad for the drivers themselves.

So we need more lorry parking spaces in Kent. The Government has committed £250 million for a new lorry park at Stanford West with space for 3,600 trucks, to provide a desperately needed alternative to closing the M20 for “Operation Stack” when there is disruption at the Channel. This will be an enormous relief for residents and businesses across Kent, especially those who live near the motorway. To make the most this investment, there’s surely a strong case for making the lorry park available for overnight parking of HGVs outside of Operation Stack.

I made these points in the debate and afterwards the Roads Minister, John Hayes, committed to looking into how many more lorry parking spaces are needed and how they can be made available. He also wants to do more about litter on roadsides – a particular problem along parts of the M20. I’m looking forward to taking him up on his offer to meet me and other Kent MPs as well as councillors and hauliers to thrash out some concrete solutions.

Helping people who’ve been handed a raw deal in life is one of the reasons I wanted to be an MP, so I was delighted to host a jobs fair with Maidstone Jobcentre recently. This event was particularly about helping people who are struggling to get into work but could find their lives transformed by a steady job and an income. At the same time, it was a chance to support several local businesses looking for staff.

Over 500 job-seekers, mostly from Shepway and Park Wood but also the wider area around Maidstone, came to meet more than 30 employers. There was a real buzz in the room as candidates sought out opportunities to fit their skills. Afterwards I heard that several candidates had been offered jobs, which was a great result. I also spoke to one job-seeker from Ulcombe about her challenge looking for a job, made harder by not having a car. This highlighted the extra difficulties for people living in rural villages, and afterwards I spoke to the Jobcentre about transport support and how they might be able to help her.

Of course the biggest issue facing the country at the moment is Brexit, and how to build a successful future outside the EU. I’m keen to get a sense of how you feel about the big changes that are on the way, so I’ve been knocking on doors over the summer asking people what they’re looking for in our new relationship with the EU, and how Brexit will affect them personally.

My priorities for Kent remain the same – improved transport, fair school funding, better healthcare, supporting local businesses and protecting the countryside. But I want to hear from people in Hollingbourne and Hucking, so that I can make sure your views are represented in Westminster. If you’re reading this please do get in touch and tell me what matters to you. You can find my contact details below.

Helen Whately

MP for Faversham and Mid Kent

I work for you. If you have a problem you think I can help you with, please contact me or visit me at one of my surgeries

House of Commons,

London, SW1A 0AA

www.helenwhately.org.uk

Tel: 020 7219 6472;

Email: helen.whately.mp@parliament.uk