Earlier this month misery hit our roads again when the QEII Bridge was closed for half the day due to high winds. The congestion at the crossing and around the local area was horrendous and it highlights the necessity for another crossing well away from Dartford. It also shows the new crossing should be another tunnel and not a bridge.
Driving over the bridge in windy conditions can be dangerous but it is also dangerous for people to be trapped in their cars for hours on end simply trying to get home. When these situations occur, people are understandably angry and frustrated, so we need Highways England to find a way of limiting the impact on local roads whenever there is a problem at the crossing.
The need for another crossing has never been greater and I hope residents in and around Dartford will take part in the consultation on the new Lower Thames Crossing which is open until 24th March 2016.
Fairfield Leisure Centre
During February, I attended the opening of Dartford’s newly refurbished Fairfield Leisure Centre. This fantastic centre was re-opened by the Mayor and Leader of Dartford Borough Council and offers a wide range of swimming and exercise facilities.
The Council has invested £12m to refurbish the swimming pools and gym areas. There are also new studios for dance and exercise classes as well as a brand new multi-purpose sports hall which can be used for a wide variety of sports including badminton and football. The centre also has a gym with the latest equipment, a poolside sauna as well as a new cafe area.
It is good to see this facility open for business and I am sure it will be a great asset to our town and complement our already thriving community sports and leisure facilities. The new centre has already proven to be very popular with lots of people enjoying the pool and gymnasium.
We are very lucky here in Dartford to have such high quality facilities which our borough council has committed to invest in. Thanks to the council, last year we saw the opening of the new community pavilion at Hesketh Park which provided a new home for Dartford Cricket Club and there has been considerable council investment at Princes Park.
More good news from Dartford Council ….. their part of the Council Tax bill will not increase this year.
Ebbsfleet Garden City
I am pleased that Ebbsfleet has been awarded “Healthy new town” status by the Department for Health. As well as ensuring there is sufficient infrastructure for the project, we have to make the Garden City a place that people aspire to live in and this will help. I am also pleased that we have had confirmation of the first new primary school to be built on the site. The Cherry Orchard Primary Academy will be part of the Leigh Academies Trust and will be a two-form entry school opening in September 2017. It will also have a pre-school and a special centre for children with communication needs.
Charity Cricket Game
I am holding my annual Charity Cricket Game at Hesketh Park on Sunday 10th July 2016 which will again be raising funds for the Arrow Riding Centre for the disabled in Darenth and Dartford Cricket Club’s youth teams. This year we have youth teams playing, cricketing challenges, dancing groups, stalls, auctions and the inevitable bouncy castles. The event is kindly sponsored by Bluewater and will all be played in front of Dartford Cricket Club’s fantastic new pavilion. Please come and support the event at Hesketh Park, Pilgrims Way, Dartford, DA1 1QZ.
On 23rd June, Britain will have the opportunity of voting on whether we should remain a member of the EU. For many people this will be the first chance to vote on an institution that impacts so much on our daily lives.
I have always felt it was right to seek a re- negotiation before such a vote took place, but people and not politicians should ultimately decide if we remain or leave. That chance is now coming. We are a strong, proud nation that should have more control over our own laws. Instead we have more and more laws imposed upon us and therefore I have decided to vote to leave the EU. I have never doubted there are positive aspects to the EU but its 28 different member countries do not all want the same thing so the EU’s failure to allow greater flexibility is deeply frustrating. We will, of course, remain one of the G7 nations and will continue to be a permanent member of the UN’s Security Council. We will also be a crucial member of both the Commonwealth and NATO so we needn’t fear isolation on the world stage.
The negotiating process led to Britain asking the EU for changes to our own benefit systems and being told that we couldn’t change them in the way we wanted. This highlighted to me the lack of control we have over ourselves and why we need change. This is probably a once in a lifetime opportunity to allow the UK to have a positive, dynamic future, free from the burdens, bureaucracy and the controlling nature of the European Union.
I hope that Britain will vote to leave the EU and give us the opportunity for a brighter future.
Late last year I became aware that the waiting times for assessment for Autism and Asperger’s was far too long. Across Kent there were several hundred people waiting to be seen. This was clearly unacceptable. Having raised this issue with every Commissioning Group in Kent, I was pleased to receive confirmation that extra resources are now being allocated to tackle this backlog.
Trade Union Bill
This Bill has now passed through the House of Commons and is currently undergoing further scrutiny in the House of Lords.
At present, a small minority of union members can disrupt the lives of millions of workers, commuters, parents and employers at short notice and without clear support from the members of those unions. This has to change. We will always need to balance the needs of those taking industrial action and the public not to have their lives unduly disrupted and this Bill aims to achieve this.