We've been battling to renew Dover for years. And then a multimillion pound piece of artwork turns up in the middle of our town overnight. It would be daft to get rid of it. That's why I'm campaigning to Save Our Banksy.
On Friday, I met with residents at the giant Brexit-themed Banksy in York Street. Everyone was in agreement about what an amazing work of art it is – and that we must do all we can to save it.
The Dover Banksy is iconic. Our town is the gateway and guardian of the nation – and on the frontline of Brexit. Wherever you stand on Brexit, this artwork is a statement on our times. Brexit and the European question will loom large over everything for a long time.
The people of Dover want it to stay – and so do I. That is why I am asking for all your support to help save our Banksy. Because in Dover we have not done well enough in protecting our heritage and culture – in looking after the things Dovorians through the ages have loved dearly.
It's clear work needs to be done to improve Bench Street too. Everyone knows I have been calling for the site of The Crypt to be restored. It's been a wasteland ever since the terrible fire 40 years ago. The Crypt site is owned by the very same people who own the Banksy building. I urge them to work with us – to help us build a better Dover where we celebrate our culture and our history.
I hope the building's owners will listen to what the people of Dover want. Yet following the fiasco with the Folkestone Banksy, it's clear we cannot take anything on trust. That's why I have sent an application to Historic England explaining why it is essential this work of art is protected. The Abbey Road crossing immortalised by The Beatles has been listed. Even a 1960s Bournemouth bus depot described as "hideous" was listed. If they are going to list things like that, they should list an iconic piece of art like our Banksy.
It's also important for on Dover District Council to use all powers they have at their disposal to halt any demolition or removal of this Banksy. For it is clear the building's nature has fundamentally changed. The new waterfront development should be reworked to have this Banksy at its heart – as a central attraction. It will draw so many people to visit the town and help make the development a success. Renewal is about more than just new buildings. This is about protecting a piece of our culture and history for the people it was intended for, their children and grandchildren.
This artwork may be worth millions. Yet to the people of Dover it is priceless. Let's work together. Let's Save Our Banksy.
I have called on Stagecoach bosses to scrap appalling and inexcusable plans to cut dozens of local bus services.
Stagecoach last week launched a consultation over the changes which will affect Dover, Deal and villages across the area. Some would lose their only regular service.
The firm has given residents just two weeks to lodge their views, with the consultation period ending on June 26.
These changes are appalling and totally unjustified. There are reductions for almost every village, just when we are getting more investment and housing all over the district.
People are quite rightly fuming. The two-week window for consultation – and the vague wording in it – is unwarranted, inexcusable and unacceptable.
I have written to Stagecoach's area director making my views known in no uncertain terms and asked for a meeting as a matter of urgency.
To have your say on the proposals by Monday, 26 June 2017, e-mail email@example.com quoting "Dover Area Proposals" in the subject line. Or you can write to Stagecoach at Stagecoach South East Dover Area Proposals, FREEPOST RTLL-RCTZ-AKAK, Canterbury, CT1 2SY.
For more details on the proposed changes, click here.
I welcome the approval of a life-extending cancer drug after lobbying the NHS over the issue.
Kadcyla adds an average of six months of life to women with terminal breast cancer – but at an undiscounted cost of £90,000 per patient.
The drug was available in Scotland from April, but deemed too expensive by the rest of the UK.
Earlier this year I met with local support group the Breast Cancer Girls of Deal, both in the constituency and in Westminster. They told me how important Kadcyla was for their members.
I lobbied Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt and the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, which on Thursday (June 15) announced a U-turn in favour of funding the drug.
I am delighted by the outcome and there is no doubt all the pressure we piled on made a great difference. So many people were involved in this campaign.
I heard first hand from these courageous women how it was literally handing them a lifeline.
Time is the most important thing we have. If treatments work and give us more of it, money should not be an obstacle.
Chantele Rashbrook, who runs the Breast Cancer Girls of Deal group, has secondary breast cancer and is being treated with Kadcyla.
She said: "I'm not going into my third year on it and it's reduced the tumour on my lung to pretty much nothing.
"A lot of women in our group could end up with secondary breast cancer. They would never have been given this chance without this decision.
"I'm so happy. It's just brilliant.
"Charlie was on the ball and got other MPs to raise the issue too, and we got to talk to senior people in pharmaceuticals personally.
"It's made a big difference."
I am incredibly proud to have been re-elected as Member of Parliament for Dover and Deal. It was humbling that over half the voters supported me in the ballot box. The Conservative vote share here rose to 52.4% while the majority increased to 6,437.
Thank you for your support. When I was first elected seven years ago, I said my ambition was to make Dover and Deal once again a jewel in the crown of the nation. I meant what I said back then. And it's been an incredible journey. Together we have achieved so many things they said were impossible. We saved the Port of Dover from being sold off to the French or whoever. We built a New Dover Hospital after Buckland Hospital had been decimated for a decade. We tore down Burlington House – new cinemas and shops are now rising at the St James site.
Meanwhile Deal goes from strength to strength. We safeguarded Deal's Hospital which had been left teetering on the edge. They said Deal was a "village" unworthy of the fast train – today that fast train sweeps into Deal all day, every day.
Some £500 million of investment has been secured for our community since 2010. We have been working tirelessly to reverse the neglect of the previous decade. Yet I know how much more there is to do. I set out a clear plan for our future in this election.
We must ensure our borders are as secure as they can be and be ready on day one for Brexit here at the Dover frontline. We've delivered a lot of investment since 2010. I want to see even more – starting at our port. We've achieved a lot on jobs. Yet I am passionate to do all I can to boost business and employment. And we must keep working to get a fairer share of healthcare. We fought to safeguard our hospitals, now we must fight to stop health chiefs sneaking key services back to the faraway big hospitals. We need to get beds at Buckland and improve mental healthcare – and help the most vulnerable.
I'm determined to drive forward the changes we need. Everyone knows Brexit will present challenges – but there will also be real opportunities to build the sort of Britain we want. Where we support small businesses, help people buy their own homes and where hard work brings rewards.
A Britain where we build a renaissance of our towns and regions, with places like Dover and Deal leading the way.
Last Thursday was another momentous night in British politics. It's clear we must be united and work together to deliver certainty for the country. To respect the will of the people and deliver Brexit. Yet we must also plan ahead to build a Brexit Britain that takes our nation forward to an even greater future.
This week, works are finally starting on the A20. At long last the hated 40mph speed limit is officially going. This is another important piece of progress for our area. Indeed, all over Dover and Deal cranes tower in the skyline and diggers roll by as workmen are busy getting things built.
Since 2010, we've come a long way together. We've built a new state-of-the-art hospital, fixed our rail line in record time – and soon new shops and restaurants will spring up at the St James site. Sorting out the A20 speed limit is another step forward. It was only ever meant to apply when there were problems with traffic. It was not meant to be on all the time. Finally getting highways chiefs to deliver what they were meant to do in the first place is positive for our community.
Thousands of new homes have been built across the constituency. Yet still, young people are finding it too hard to get on the housing ladder.
It shouldn't just be an aspiration, it should be the norm. Homes are somewhere to settle in the community and raise a family. Yet for too long people haven't had the supply to meet demand. That's why I'm backing projects like the Connaught Barracks development and the Aylesham Garden Village. Many of these homes will be starter homes for first-time buyers.
We've made a good start on getting new homes built. The number of new builds started in Dover and Deal in 2015 was 394, almost double the UK average of 222. Another 167 new builds were started in the first two quarters of 2016.
We've also had a jobs revolution in Dover and Deal since 2010. Unemployment is down 46 per cent, while youth unemployment has fallen 60 per cent. These new workers need good homes to live in and decent places to shop.
We've come a long way together. We've had hundreds of millions of pounds invested in our area. Yet for me this this is just the start. Delivering even more investment in Dover and Deal we can have a renaissance of our corner of Kent. We can make Dover & Deal a jewel in the crown of the nation once again. What a few short years ago seemed so far away is now increasingly within our grasp. That's why I am working hard to see through the exciting plans for our community - and why I am doing all I can to make sure we don't risk losing everything we've worked so hard for.
France has a new president. And I believe there is good reason for optimism in Dover and Deal about the new French leader.
Because Emmanuelle Macron may be a more positive force for Britain than people expect. With him there is the potential to forge a deeper relationship with France and reach an accommodation with Europe that will benefit both us and the EU. To strike a New Entente Cordiale – a stronger deal between Dover and Calais.
Five years ago I sat opposite Emmanuelle Macron, the then economics adviser to President Hollande of France. I was leading a cross-party Parliamentary delegation to discuss the EU and what kind of settlement Britain might negotiate.
We all thought he was incredibly young to be doing this critical job. Which is what they said when he later created his own party and ran for the presidency. Just as in his campaign, Emmanuelle Macron impressed us all from the start. He clearly wanted to see France pass the structural reforms that we battled so hard for in the 1980s and now take for granted. He was pro-European, yet struck us as incredibly pragmatic as well. He was also a hard-headed negotiator from his days as a deal-maker in the City of London. If anyone can turn France around, he can. He may well to see it is pragmatically in France's interest for our two nations to enjoy closer ties as we leave the EU.
Yet we need to plan now to make sure trade continues to flow freely – whether there is a deal or no deal with the EU. Dover is the gateway and the guardian of the nation. The port handles £120 billion of imports and exports every year. More than 10,000 freight vehicles pass through the docks each day.
Gridlock at Dover and Deal will gridlock the UK economy too. We've seen in recent years how finely balanced the infrastructure is and how problems can swiftly spiral. Tailbacks in 2015 caused by Calais strikes were estimated to cost Britain's economy £1 billion. In 2016, a lack of French border police at Dover caused huge tailbacks on the roads to the port.
That's why I've worked with the ports, shipping and haulage industries to develop a detailed plan to ensure order at our border and that we are ready on day one when we leave. I've been working closely with the French too – and the plan is also backed by Xavier Betrand, president of the Calais and Dunkirk region.
In less than two years we will be leaving the European Union. It is vital that we are ready on day one for every eventuality – particularly at the Dover and Deal frontline. The truth is we can make a massive success of Brexit. By taking action now with a queue-busting plan we can ensure that we are ready.
It's been an incredible two years. So much has happened. Not least getting more investment here in Dover & Deal. Hundreds of millions of pounds are being invested. It's also great news that unemployment has halved and wages have gone up 15% in the last two years.
After a fierce battle, we succeeded in tearing down Burlington House. Steelwork is now rising at the £50 million St James development. A cinema complex and a new shopping centre are taking shape in the heart of Dover – boosting the town rather than taking shoppers away.
Meanwhile Deal goes from strength to strength. The fast train we fought for and delivered now sweeps into Deal all day, every day. It's changed the town. So much so that the Times newspaper now ranks Deal as number one in their list of the 20 best seaside towns in Britain. Yet I think we can do even better. That's why I want to see a new dual carriageway spur into Deal from the A256. It would transform the town even more – and save more lives being lost on the dangerous death-trap A258.
£50m was invested in our railways when the sea wall was repaired. Many feared they'd abandon the railway altogether yet we made sure it was repaired – way ahead of schedule. We stopped the port being sold off to the French or whoever and now it's getting the investment it needs. £120 million is being invested in the Western Docks Revival.
We've also had to fight to keep our borders secure. The Calais Jungle was dismantled last year after our hard-fought campaign. We worked closely with French officials to make sure the Calais camp went for good. By the time the battle was won last autumn, nearly 10,000 people had been lured to Calais, living in squalor. People traffickers roamed free, exploiting migrants and attacking tourists and truckers nearly every night.
Here at the Dover and Deal frontline, we know we cannot risk a return of the Calais Jungle. That's why we're keeping up the pressure on the French to take action – before the first tent is pitched. With the French raising concerns about the border treaty, it's vital we have strong leadership to keep our borders secure.
Looking forward, we're leaving the EU. I'm working hard to make sure we are Ready on Day One on Brexit. We have less than two years to be ready. The most important preparations of all will be here at the Dover and Deal frontline. So I've presented a detailed plan to the Government – to ensure the Channel Ports avoid gridlock and meet the Brexit borders challenge. Many hope for failure – but I'm determined to work hard to make a success of Brexit. To build a new Britain that is a great trading nation. It's what people voted for in the referendum and what I am committed to doing my best to deliver.
Dover and Deal have taken a giant leap forward. Yet there is still more to do. Together we can continue to build a better future for our area.
I met with the Transport Secretary this week – and set out why the A20 40mph limit must be axed as soon as possible.
I have been keeping up the pressure on Highways England after they caved into my campaign last autumn and agreed to make the speed limit variable.
Yet local drivers feel Highways England is taking far too long to get the work done. I raised his concerns over the delays with Transport Secretary Chris Grayling.
I completely share local drivers' frustration with Highways England's failure to get on with the job.
First of all they said they would have this absurd speed limit gone by March. Then they said it won't be gone until June.
Yet again they show they are not fit for purpose and have failed to get on with the job. It's wrong they continue to subject local people to yet more delays.
I passed on our concerns to the Transport Secretary – and called for swift action to be taken.
In recent crunch talks, Highways England told me everything was in place to begin construction work in May and finish by the end of July.
A Notice of Determination, a statement that the new A20 scheme will not have a significant impact on the environment, has been published in the London Gazette.
If it goes unchallenged, highways bosses say a six-week programme to install new digital signs will begin immediately.
Details about road closures are expected to be published towards the end of the Notice of Determination process.
I also spoke to Chris Grayling about the need for the A2 to be upgraded and dualled all the way to the Dover and the planned M20 Lorry Park to be delivered on time.
In less than two years we will be leaving the European Union. It is vital that we are ready on day one for every eventuality – particularly at the Dover and Deal frontline.
People opposed to Brexit talk up fears of chaos when we leave the EU. They speak of disaster at the border with queues of lorries all the way back to Essex. Let's prove the Remoaners wrong by being ready on day one to make a real success of Brexit. By taking action now to invest in upgrading the border and the roads to the Dover and Deal frontline we can be ready.
Dover is the gateway and the guardian of the nation. The port handles £120 billion of imports and exports every year. More than 10,000 freight vehicles pass through the docks each day.
Disruption at Dover is felt right across the country. Gridlock at Dover will gridlock the UK economy too. We've seen in recent years how finely balanced the infrastructure is and how problems can swiftly spiral. Tailbacks in 2015 caused by Calais strikes were estimated to cost Britain's economy £1 billion. In 2016, a lack of French border police at Dover caused huge tailbacks on the roads to the port.
That's why I've worked with the ports, shipping and haulage industries to develop a detailed five-point plan to ensure order at our border.
Resilient roads to Dover and Deal. The dualling of the A2 all the way to Dover, recklessly axed by the last Labour government, must now be carried out. The planned M20 lorry park must be delivered on time.Britain open for business with systems ready on day one to ensure that customs controls are handled seamlessly and long queues avoided.A New Entente Cordiale to extend the Le Touquet Treaty to cover customs co-operation and ensure we work closer than ever with France.A Brexit Infrastructure Bill. It takes years to build the simplest road. Yet we have less than two years to get ready. A powerful new law to speed through administrative processes would enable vital projects to be delivered on time.One Government at the border to ensure order. There is a mind boggling array of ministries, quangos and agencies with border responsibilities. There should be a single ministry where the buck stops – not a pea soup of bureaucracy.
I'm incredibly grateful to the businesses and industry leaders who joined me to develop this detailed plan for meeting the Brexit borders challenge. By taking action now we can make a real success of Brexit for Britain.
Let's move forward and get on with this vital work now. So we won't just be ready on day one – Dover and Deal will be more successful and stronger than ever before.
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