Local MP Mrs Helen Whately has supplied the following newsletter in which she explains why she voted for Mrs May’s Brexit deal plus her other local news. Mrs May’s plan assumes that the UK will leave the EU Customs on 31st December 2020 after which Kent may be faced with traffic jams caused by vehicles awaiting Customs at Dover and Eurotunnel. If the UK leaves without a deal on 29th March 2019 then the traffic problems will start then which is why the M20 between Hollingbourne and Ashford is being turned into a lorry storage area for 2000 lorries with a likely impact on local traffic. She also reports on the employment of farm workers after Brexit.
A message from your MP – Helen Whately
Many of you have told me you want politicians to get on with Brexit so the country can move forwards – but Parliament has been stuck. I want us to leave with a deal that frees us from the constraints of EU membership while maintaining strong trade links and cooperation in areas like security, healthcare and science. That’s what the withdrawal agreement achieves and that’s why I voted for it.
Though Parliament did not pass the Prime Minister’s deal, it has since backed an amendment which requires the Government to change the Irish backstop. The Prime Minister now has a strong mandate to go back to Brussels and negotiate an alternative arrangement. This won’t be easy, but no-deal would be bad for the EU as well as the UK, so they have every reason to compromise. Now we have to hold our nerve and make sure they do.
Brexit is the biggest challenge Britain faces at the moment, but I’m not letting it get in the way of my local campaigns. In this newsletter you can read updates on the new schools for Maidstone, investment in roads like Brenley Corner and Blue Bell Hill and protections for park home owners at Pilgrim’s Retreat.
Rights for park home owners
People living at Pilgrim’s Retreat have bought park homes believing they have rights as permanent residents, only to find that as ‘leisure home’ owners they are vulnerable to exploitative charges and intimidation. I asked Housing Minister Heather Wheeler to tackle mis-selling of park homes give leisure home owners more rights and protections.
What will happen to fruit pickers in a no-deal Brexit?
Farmers in Kent depend on migrant workers to pick and pack fruit. I asked the Immigration Minister what will happen to them in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
Uncertainty over immigration rules after 29th March if we leave the EU with no-deal is a worry for fruit farmers, who depend on seasonal migrant workers. I’ve been asking for reassurance on this and I was pleased when the Home Secretary announced that EEA citizens will be able to work in the UK for three months before they need to apply for temporary leave to remain. That’s if we leave without a deal; with a deal workers will be able to come to the UK as they do now during the transition period – another reason we need a withdrawal agreement!
Government must upgrade Brenley Corner and Blue Bell Hill in time for Lower Thames Crossing
The Lower Thames Crossing should be a good thing for Kent, but it won’t be if it just shunts traffic jams further south.
I brought together ten Kent MPs to write to Highways England warning that unless the motorways and local roads are upgraded before the crossing opens in 2027, there will be gridlock. Read the letter here.
On the A2/M2 corridor, Brenley Corner is already busy and dangerous; with the Lower Thames Crossing, even more traffic is expected to use this junction.
I’ve been campaigning to get Brenley Corner rebuilt and Highways England have told me it’s got a good chance of getting funding in the next roads strategy, but that might not be in time. The Lower Thames Crossing is due to open in 2027 so there’s no time to waste: Brenley Corner must be ready.
There could be 25% more cars coming through Maidstone and double the number of lorries using Blue Bell Hill. Traffic around Maidstone is already at a standstill, and Blue Bell Hill is clearly not going to cope with this increase. The A249 is another well known accident black spot with queues at rush hour, and that will see more traffic too. The Government is investing in the Lower Thames Crossing, so I’m arguing they must invest in our local roads too.
Rethink on entrance to New schools off Bearsted Rd
Over 100 people packed out Grove Green Community Centre to hear about plans for two new schools. Almost everyone who spoke was worried about extra traffic, especially on Bearsted Rd.
We can’t have traffic chaos, so I lobbied for the entrance to the schools to be moved to a more sensible place. I’m pleased the developer has listened, and I was able to reassure people that a new planning application with the entrance via the Kent Medical Campus, at the public meeting.
Maidstone desperately needs these new schools to be opened by 2020, otherwise there won’t be enough school places for local children. Pupils with special needs already have to travel long distances every day, so having new schools nearby will make all the difference
Mrs Whately, MP for Faversham and Mid Kent can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Pictured below is Mrs Whately.