Dover is the gateway to England. The first thing ferry passengers see as they approach our shores is the iconic White Cliffs. I've made the Calais to Dover crossing on dozens of occasions. Yet the sight of the White Cliffs on the horizon takes my breath away every time.
This view is the best possible welcome we can give visitors to our great nation. That's why it's so important that when people reach Dover, we continue to show just how beautiful our corner of Kent really is.
Yet those first impressions have recently been spoiled – by piles of litter on the roadside. Kent is the Garden of England. Yet of late it's looked more like a rubbish tip along the A2 and A20. All week in Westminster I look forward to coming home to Dover and Deal. As I drive along the motorway I hate to see our area blighted by bottles and wrappers strewn across verges – passed by millions of other motorists.
I've been asking the council and Highways England to work together to clean up the mess. So I'm delighted that the council contacted me to assure me that litter clearance on roads across the district would be taking place.
Dover District Council confirmed seven clean-up operations in April. Lydden Hill, Green Lane and Whitfield Hill, the A20, the A257, and the A258 from rare breeds roundabout to Deal roundabout have all been targeted.
It follows litter-picking in March along the A2, from the Whitfield roundabout to the Duke of York's roundabout and along Jubilee Way. Council workers told me around 600kg of waste was cleared in total. They also said dates would be confirmed shortly for a litter pick of the whole length of the A2.
I'm really pleased the council have taken action on this. I understand road closures have to be agreed with Highways England which makes things more difficult. Everyone knows how hard we had to fight to get Highways England to axe the hated A20 40mph limit last year. Yet we got there in the end. Now the digital speed limit signs should be switched on soon.
Another big issue, following the freezing temperatures this winter, is the number of potholes. I've asked Kent County Council to fix our road surfaces fast. So again I'm really pleased that this month they launched a "pothole blitz" across the worst affected roads. It's good to see that Highways England are resurfacing parts of the M20 and M2-A2 too.
Having resilient roads in Dover and Deal is more important than ever. In just 11 months we will be leaving the European Union. Meanwhile, the amount of lorries travelling through our port is rising every year. We must continue to fight for the A2 to be fully dualled – and for more lorry parking facilities along the M20.
Yet we must get the basics right too. That means sorting the potholes – and keeping our roadsides clear of rubbish.
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