An election is on the horizon – a news letter from our current MP.

Hollingbourne Parish Council has received a newsletter from Mrs Helen Whately, Member of Parliament for Faversham and Mid Kent, about the general Election on 12th December when Hollingbourne residents can vote in the Cardwell Pavilion from 7am to 10pm. Over the course of the next few weeks it is hoped to  publish messages from the other candidates. At the time of writing the Labour Party has not announced their candidate although the Liberal Democrats have Hannah Perkin as their Prospective Parliamentary Candidate while the Green Party has Hannah Temple. Other candidates may come forward and they will also be offered the opportunity of sending messages to Hollingbourne. Just now it is not known whether “Hairy” Norman Davidson will be standing yet again locally for the Monster Raving Loony Party.

Mrs Whately’s message is as follows:

As the nights draw in, I know the last thing people want to think about is turning out to vote in a general election. This was certainly not the Prime Minister’s preferred outcome. But it’s clear that Parliament has reached a stalemate – unable to get anything done.

We need a Government with a majority to move the country forwards – not only delivering the result of the referendum, but to get on with all the other things that matter to people.

The Prime Minister has delivered a great new Brexit deal. Crucially, the deal has got rid of the backstop, something many people said was impossible. But the deal was not going to pass in this Parliament. More frustration and delay was on the horizon.

I think most people just want to move on. However you voted in the referendum, it’s time to come together as a country and move on from the division of the last three years.

Despite the chaos of this Parliament, there is plenty of good news to report back. From getting more money for Kent schools, new hospital facilities, more police on our streets, and better broadband.

I will shortly cease to be your local MP. Parliament will be dissolved at midnight on Tuesday 5 November. I will be standing for re-election and hope to see you out on the campaign trail!

Stop Lenham Heath development

It’s shocking to think this land could be covered with houses

Lenham Heath and the surrounding area are under threat.
Maidstone Borough Council has revealed plans for a new ‘garden village’ around Lenham Heath which could see 5,000 – or more – new homes built in this area.
The development would destroy an area of farmland at the foot of the North Downs and put huge pressure on local roads and services.
The plans were revealed as part of a consultation on Maidstone’s new Local Plan – which will set out the planning framework for the town and surrounding area for the next 20 years.
I’m working closely with the parish council, the “Save Lenham Heath” campaign, and Borough and County councillors, to oppose the Lenham Heath development. But I need your help too.

Pease take a minute to fill out a survey on my website about the development.

£5,000 for every secondary school pupil

Talking about life in Westminster with A-Level politics students from QE Grammar School

I’m pleased the Schools Minister has listened to my request for extra funding for Kent schools.
Pupil spending is due to hit £50 million in Faversham and Mid Kent next year under allocations set out by the Department for Education.
Every secondary school in Faversham and Mid Kent will now be guaranteed at least £5,000 per pupil with every primary school pupil getting at least £3,750 from central funds.
This is really good news for schools in Kent – it means that every school will be guaranteed a minimum funding level, no matter whether it’s a grammar, academy or church school.
So, we’re not just getting more money for our schools, we are also getting a fairer funding system. This is another step to making sure every child achieves their potential.

 

Better broadband and mobile in rural areas

Not-spots and slow broadband should finally be a thing of the past, following two recent announcements.

Mobile:
A £1 billion deal struck between the Government and mobile phone companies is great news for people in rural areas in Faversham and Mid Kent who struggle to get 4G.

Under the proposal, the four main mobile phone operators (EE, O2, Three and Vodaphone) will invest £530 million to open up and share existing masts and infrastructure in areas where there is currently coverage from only one operator – creating a Shared Rural Network.

If the operators meet these conditions, the Government will commit up to £500 million of investment to improve mobile infrastructure in the hardest to reach places.

Broadband:

The Government is investing £5 billion to support the rollout of gigabit broadband in the hardest to reach 20 per cent of the country – doubling the previous commitment to support rollout to the hardest 10 per cent.

I’m pleased this money has been ring-fenced for the hardest-to-reach areas. So often, investment goes to those areas that are already connected – making a good broadband connection even faster, rather than focusing on getting everyone connected.

Crime needs to be reported in Headcorn

On a walk about in Headcorn with Police and Crime Commissioner, Matthew Scott

Many people in Headcorn are concerned about crime and anti-social behaviour.

I visited the village with Kent Police and Crime Commissioner, Matthew Scott, last week to hear these concerns first hand and discuss what more the police can do to help.

One of the problems is that crime is under-reported in the village. I know a big reason why people don’t come forward is fear of repercussions. But the message from the police is clear – crime needs to be reported.

What you’ve seen could be the missing piece of the jigsaw in an on-going case and help secure a prosecution. Reporting crime also builds up a picture of trouble spots, which helps to determine the allocation of police time and resources. So, every report is useful.

With more police in Kent – including a dedicated team in Maidstone – there should be extra capacity for supporting villages and rural areas.

An update on Operation Brock

I know many people were stuck in traffic last week on the M20 due to work to implement Operation Brock over running.

I asked for an explanation and was told by Highways England that work was pushed back to allow M20 to remain open for half term traffic and work took longer due to cold weather. Clearly this isn’t good enough and I have told Transport Ministers this must not happen again.

Operation Brock has now been stood down as a Brexit extension is in place.

I’ve also used recent conversations with Transport Ministers to press the case for investment in Kent’s roads to increase resilience. I’m determined to get our share of investment.

 

Faversham is eager to go greener

We need to be ambitious about green transport in Faversham, but I’m worried Swale Borough Council are dragging their feet.

We’re still waiting for the two electric car charging points that were promised for the town in June.

I’ve written to the Leader of Swale Borough Council to encourage the Council to take advantage of funds from central Government which can cover up to 75 per cent of the cost of purchasing and installing public charging points.

Action on climate change needs to be taken quickly. There’s no time to waste and in my experience, people in Faversham are eager to go greener.

We know that people are put off switching to an electric car because of the lack of nearby charging points. Given the generous grants available from the Government, there has never been a better time to invest in the infrastructure needed to support electric vehicles.

A new CT scanner for Canterbury Hospital

It’s great news that Canterbury Hospital is getting a new CT scanner.
The inclusion of Canterbury as one of the hospitals to benefit from £200 million of investment in diagnostic equipment, will help improve cancer care in Kent.
Confronting a cancer diagnosis is one of the hardest things imaginable. If you’re being treated at Canterbury hospital in future, you’ll know that doctors are using state of the art technology to diagnose your condition and monitor treatment.
The new CT scanner is a positive step to improving healthcare in our area, but it doesn’t take away from the fact that Canterbury needs a new hospital. I’m continuing to press Minsters to make investment in East Kent hospitals a priority.

 

A decision on the Cleve Hill solar plant is due later this month.

I’ve been using these last few weeks before the planning inspectors make their recommendation to press the case for this land to be restored to coastal saltmarsh rather than being swamped with industrial size solar panels.

I’ve written to the Environment Secretary and Business Secretary to stress the concerns of local people and brought the development to the attention of Tony Juniper – Chair of Natural England – who is a keen supporter of coastal saltmarsh.

I have asked the Environment Agency for more information on how the process of restoring the land to saltmarsh would work in practice and how much this would cost.

The decision from the planning inspectors will be sent to the Business Secretary to make the final decision on whether or not to grant consent for the development.

Celebrating National Libraries Week in Maidstone

I visited Maidstone Library last month as part of this year’s National Libraries Week (7-12 October).
This was my first visit to the Library in my role as Minister for Arts, Heritage and Tourism – which includes responsibility for libraries and museums.
It was great to mark the start of this important week with a visit to one of Kent’s best libraries.

From ‘Baby Rhyme Time’ to researching Kent history, there is something for everyone at Maidstone library. As well as still being a place where people can borrow books. It’s a fantastic example of how a library can be at the heart of modern community life.

Mrs Whately can be contacted at helen.whately.mp@parliament.uk

and via www.helenwhately.org.uk

 

Pictured below is “Hairy” Norman Davidson of the Monster Raving Loony Party who has stood in several parliamentary elections in the Faversham and Mid Kent Constituency and who has lost every time. He is well known in Hollingbourne as a supplier of logs.