It’s been a busy start to the year in Parliament. After years of wrangling and uncertainty we have finally left the EU. I know there are still strong views on this, but most people I spoke to during the election wanted to move on, and that’s what we’ve managed to do.
The focus is now on building a new relationship with Europe and the rest of the world. There are huge opportunities for our country in the decade ahead, not just in our new role in the world, but also with our growing economy and a commitment to levelling up investment and opportunities across communities.
In the last few weeks in Parliament we’ve put NHS funding increases into law, introduced Bills on the environment and agriculture to make the most of having control in these areas once again, and set out plans for a £5 billion fund for better bus and cycle links to help every region outside London.
I’m continuing to work hard to get Kent its share of new investment – whether that’s in broadband, roads, policing, or schools.
I know some people have been through the horrible experience this month of seeing flood water enter their homes. It’s a reminder of the pressures we face in Kent – and the need to make sure new developments work with our plans for tackling climate change.
Making healthcare better for everyone
I’m delighted to have been appointed Minister of State in the Department for Health and Social Care, as part of last week’s reshuffle.
My new responsibilities include social care, the NHS workforce, as well as learning disabilities and autism.
Solving the crisis in social care, and achieving our commitment of 50,000 more nurses, are two of the most important things for making sure people get the care they need.
I’m looking forward to working with fantastic NHS and social care staff across the country – including here in Faversham and Mid Kent, to make healthcare better for everyone.
96% say no to Lenham Heath development
The results are in from my survey and it’s clear there is overwhelming opposition to plans for a “garden village” at Lenham Heath.
96 per cent of responders said that Lenham Heath was the wrong place to build 5,000 new homes. Only 2 per cent supported the proposed development, with a similar number being undecided.
People are rightly worried about the damage it would do to the countryside and the thought of even more cars on the roads.
Maidstone Council needs to think again before pushing ahead with these unpopular plans. The views of local people must not be ignored.
A better future for nature in Kent
We all want to see nature thrive, but our wildlife and habitats have been under pressure in recent years.
From turtledoves in the orchards around Selling, lapwings at the Graveney Marshes, to songbirds in the Weald – Kent is home to an astonishing range of wildlife and habitats.
Two exciting new Bills have been introduced to Parliament recently, setting out our future policies for the environment and agriculture outside the EU.
The Environment Bill and Agriculture Bill will put nature at the heart of the Government’s agenda, not just in farming but across all areas of policy. I recently met the Kent Nature Partnership to discuss how these new policies can benefit Faversham and Mid Kent.
An update on policing in Headcorn
More regular patrols by police officers in Headcorn are already making a difference.
I was back in the village recently for a meeting with the police and local councillors to see if action to tackle crime and anti-social behaviour is having an impact.
I’m encouraged to hear that things seem to have improved since our last meeting in November. Local parish councils say progress is being made and people feel safer, but if your experience is difference please let me know.
We’re getting an extra 597 police officers in Kent over the next two years and Maidstone is getting five dedicated police officers. This means officers have more time to patrol villages and rural areas, including places like Headcorn.
Maidstone Apprenticeship Fair inspires next generation
A record number of students and employers took part in the 2020 Maidstone Apprenticeship Fair on Friday 7 February.
It’s fantastic to see more and more young people considering an apprenticeship as a way of getting on in life.
Close to a thousand school students from across Kent and nearly 60 apprenticeship employers took part in the event at Maidstone Leisure Centre. This included students from three schools in Faversham and Mid Kent, along with local employers – including Shepherd Neame.
I was pleased to host the event once again, along with other Kent MPs. This was the third year running the event has taken place and coincided with National Apprenticeship Week.