There's no doubt that Dover and Deal are on the up. The years of hard work have made a huge difference. After a long battle, Burlington House came down. While the arrival of the fast train has seen Deal go from strength to strength.
What's more, we've seen Deal win Britain's high street of the year and been ranked as the number one coastal town by The Times. It's vital to build on this success. So it's great to see the £500,000 refurbishment of Deal Pier coming along nicely. At the end of the pier, the council plans a café offering cups of tea and snacks during the day, and a restaurant in the evening. This is a fantastic asset with such great potential - and set to be another step forward for Deal. Also high on my list is to get a dual carriageway to Deal, although we all know that will take a long time.
Meanwhile, over in Dover, the good news keeps coming. Burlington House is long gone and the St James development has risen in its stead. Over the past few weeks the M&S Food store has opened, along with Superdrug. This comes after Cineworld, Nando's, Food Warehouse, Travelodge and others started welcoming customers back in March.
We've got Next, Costa, Anytime Fitness and many more still to come - as well as Follies pizzeria which plans a rooftop terrace bar.
Yet I am very aware that the St James development brings challenges too. First in parking - we're going to need more parking spaces. So I've been pressing the council to make sure a big car park is built when the Dover leisure centre is developed. I'm also working hard to ensure the arrival of St James boosts our current high street. Visitors need to see everything our town has to offer. So I'm fully backing district council leader Keith Morris' plan to invest £500,000 in the high street. Lots can be done to support our hardworking small business owners, like cash for sprucing up shop fronts. Our streets must be safe too - the local police force deserve great credit for listening to concerns and stepping up patrols.
We need to make the most of tourism too. Everyone knows about our world-famous castle – yet how many tourists also stop at the Roman Painted House? While the old town jail under the Maison Dieu needs to be on offer as well.
Speaking of tourism, the new marina curve at the port should soon be open. Construction is well underway. Once built, with commercial units, bars and cafes, the marina is sure to attract visitors from all over. Everyone has seen the huge success of the Folkestone Harbour Arm. We can enjoy equal success here at our iconic docks.
Much has been done with the delivery of some £500 million of investment since 2010.Yet I know we can do better still and deliver even more for Dover and Deal in the years to come.
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