What Boris Johnson means for Kent – an August Newsletter from Hollingbourne’s MP.

Hollingbourne Parish Council has received the following August 2019 Newsletter from Mrs Helen Whately, the MP for Faversham and Mid Kent constituency, which includes Hollingbourne. It has been edited to remove the items which are specific to other areas of Faversham and Mid Kent.

Now the summer has come, the last thing most of us want to be thinking about is Brexit. Sunshine and sand are beckoning, and we would probably all benefit from some time away. I know that’s true for me and my fellow MPs in Westminster anyway.
 
But while MPs are in their constituencies, Boris Johnson’s new team will be working away.  Whatever your views about the new Prime Minister, he has brought energy and a fresh sense of purpose particularly to getting Brexit done.  I’m well aware he divides opinion, but the most divisive thing of all is Brexit. Only once that is done will we be able to reunite as a country.
 
In my first question to the new Prime Minister in Parliament, I asked him – as a Kent MP – to make sure  we are fully prepared for Brexit so that freight will keep flowing through Kent’s ports. Kent MPs have met regularly with ministers, Highways England and Kent County Council over the last 12 months, but as October 31st approaches I want to be sure everything possible has been done.

I know there are many other things that people care about. I expect three of the new Prime Minister’s commitments will be particularly welcomed by people in our area; speeding up the delivery of full-fibre broadband, boosting school funding and increasing police numbers. All three address concerns that people often contact me about.

A new Prime Minister with a new Cabinet is a chance to reset the agenda. I’ll be writing to all the new Ministers to make sure they are on the case with the things we care about locally, like investment in Kent’s roads (along with electric charging points), stopping the massive Solar Plant on Graveney Marshes and making sure our fruit farmers can get the workers they need. Boris’s determination to make sure the extra money for the NHS gets to the front line is also a chance to push for the investment our hospitals and GPs need.
 
We now need to move forwards, get Brexit done and tackle the things that matter to people like housing, healthcare, and crime.

 

Stockbury could be cut in half by motorway improvements

Cars bombing over the flyover at 70mph could make it difficult, even dangerous, for people living in Stockbury to get about. People have told me they could face a 10 mile detour to avoid the planned works on the M2 Junction 5, which would blight the thriving village economy and, in effect, cut the parish in half.

I have written to the Secretary of State for Transport to say that the flyover must be accompanied by a bridge across the A249, large enough for farm vehicles and HGVs to cross.  Otherwise, local people won’t be able to get to the village from the closest junction and businesses could have to move. That is an unacceptable price to pay for an “improvement” scheme.

 

How much better would your life be if you could work slightly different hours, or do some days from home? The 40-hour, five-day working week made sense in an era of single-earner households and stay-at-home mums, but it no longer reflects the reality of how many modern families want to live.

People no longer divide neatly into breadwinners and homemakers, but too many women are reluctantly dropping out of work or going part-time after having children because their employers won’t allow them flexibility. 

As a result, men don’t get to spend as much time as they might like with their children, women miss out on career opportunities, and the country loses out on the contribution they could and would like to make. If only employers would agree a different work pattern.

That’s why I’ve introduced the Flexible Working Bill, to make all jobs flexible by default unless the employer has a sound business reason why particular hours in a particular place are required.

I was delighted by the positive response to my attempt to change the law in this area, both locally and nationally.

 

Jobs should be flexible by default.

How much better would your life be if you could work slightly different hours, or do some days from home? The 40-hour, five-day working week made sense in an era of single-earner households and stay-at-home mums, but it no longer reflects the reality of how many modern families want to live.

People no longer divide neatly into breadwinners and homemakers, but too many women are reluctantly dropping out of work or going part-time after having children because their employers won’t allow them flexibility. 

As a result, men don’t get to spend as much time as they might like with their children, women miss out on career opportunities, and the country loses out on the contribution they could and would like to make. If only employers would agree a different work pattern.

That’s why I’ve introduced the Flexible Working Bill, to make all jobs flexible by default unless the employer has a sound business reason why particular hours in a particular place are required.

I was delighted by the positive response to my attempt to change the law in this area, both locally and nationally.

 

Children are waiting too long for mental health care.

Children are waiting up to two years for mental healthcare they need. The target is 18 weeks – so this simply isn’t good enough. 

I organised a meeting with local healthcare providers and MPs from across Kent to get the bottom of what’s gone wrong. Part of the problem seems to be that we have a lot of children in care in Kent, who have particularly complicated needs. Another is an increase in demand for assessments for conditions like ADHD.

I wrote a letter to KCC and the Health Secretary, signed by other Kent MPs, calling for health and education services to work together to tackle the rise in children seeking help for their mental health. I’lll also be having regular data briefings and meetings with the local NHS and others until we get this sorted.

 

What is your experience of your local GP?

People often tell me they have to wait ages to see a GP, and I have been shocked to hear stories about people queuing outside their surgery to get an appointment. This is simply not good enough.

I know many practices have made huge efforts to improve their services and I have benefited from this myself. More money is being invested in the NHS and surgeries are coming up with creative ways to ensure people receive the right health care – whether that is a physio, pharmacist, or nurse – when they need it.

I’ve launched a survey on my website to find out more about your experiences at your local surgery. Please take the time to visit my website and tell me your views so I can help improve healthcare in our area.

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

For Hollingbourne residents and others who are concerned about the local impact of Brexit please see https://www.hollingbournepc.kentparishes.gov.uk/kents-preparations-for-brexit-on-31st-october-2019/  which includes links to information prepared by the Kent Resilience Forum. The Kent Resilience Forum is organised by Kent Police, the emergency services and local Councils amongst others.

Pictured below is Boris Johnson on a visit to Kent in July 2019.

Boris Johnson on the campaign trail in Kent during July 2019.