It's been brilliant to be able to spend more time in our beautiful corner of Kent over the past few weeks. If it was up to me, I would be in Dover and Deal every day if I could. But when the House of Commons is sitting, I have to be up in Westminster, voting on key Brexit bills and campaigning for our community.
So this month I've been making the most of the opportunity to get out and meet as many people across Dover and Deal as possible.
The sun was shining as hundreds of people turned out for Deal Hospital Fete. It was great to catch up with Ken Buxley from the organising committee. Ken and the team work tirelessly all year round to make this hugely popular event a success.
Last Sunday, I was delighted to take my family to watch an excellent performance by the talented youngsters of the St Margaret's Festival Ballet. Director Sarah Dean deserves her own round of applause for putting together such a great show.
People in our area care so much about their community. Take Rachel Devlin. She spotted Dover District Council leader Keith Morris and me when we were out and about in town. Rachel asked us what the former Co-op store in Stembrook was going to be used for. We explained that the council is working with Dover Big Local to turn the site into "starter spaces" for new small local start ups – before they set up shop in the town. Rachel told us that the scheme "sounds amazing" and is "what the town needs".
We then walked through Pencester Gardens and chatted to a local police officer on patrol as part of Operation Urban. This is a joint crackdown by Kent Police and DDC on street drinking and antisocial behaviour in the town centre. Concerns over this issue were raised earlier this year. So I organised a meeting at La Salle Verte café so local shop owners and councillors could speak to police chiefs about trouble spots. Since then a number of arrests have been made – and the situation has now really improved.
Later on we also popped in to see Dover Town Team chairman John Angell in his jewellery shop for a chat. I'm passionate about supporting high street business owners like John. The St James development has been a huge success so far. But we need to see the high street benefit too. So I'm fully backing the council's plans to offer £10,000 grants to retailers to smarten up shop fronts and attract new customers.
It's great to see everyone working together for Dover and Deal. Whether it's councillors, our police team, business owners or local volunteers – they are all passionate about making our area the best it can be.
There is no doubt that we have come a long way together over the past few years. And I am more determined than ever to keep fighting for our community.
Here you can read about local news matters and what I've been up to. You can make comments too. I'd welcome your feedback, so please do feel free to comment!