Everyone knows we have to fight that little bit harder in our corner of Kent for our fair share. Whether its healthcare, investment, education or transport – in Dover and Deal we always have a real battle on our hands.
It was a long and hard campaign to get a new hospital built in Dover. I joined marches, spoke at rallies and organised packed public meetings. In December 2010, health chiefs finally caved in and agreed to deliver for Dover. And in June 2015 the doors at last opened to the state-of-the-art Buckland Hospital we use today. We successfully fought to safeguard Deal Hospital too after a hard-fought community campaign.
It's been a battle every step of the way to get the St James development up and running in Dover. We saw Burlington House brought down. We got the power supply switched-on after frustrating delays. And now Nando's has announced it is opening this time next week. The six-screen cinema will soon follow. These are hugely exciting times.
Our schools are on the up following years of hard work by students and staff. Yet there is still more to do. I've recently written to Ministers asking them to write off Goodwin Academy's £3 million debt. And I'm making our case to the Government and Kent County Council to get new school buildings at Dover girls' grammar.
When it comes to our roads and rail it's a battle too. It took Highways England far too long to get rid of the hated 40mph limit on the A20 – yet last year they finally caved in to our campaign. On Christmas Eve 2015 the sea wall at Shakespeare Beach collapsed, causing havoc for rail users in Dover and Deal. Yet we got it fixed three months ahead of schedule.
Then last week we had trouble on the tracks again as Southeastern decided to close the Dover to Ramsgate line on Thursday. They said the trains could only run reliably by sacrificing our area.
I told Southeastern it was simply unacceptable to cut off our corner of Kent in this way. We pay the highest train fares here in Dover and Deal. I told them it is unfair and unjust to prioritise other parts of Kent at our expense.
So it was welcome we got Southeastern to re-open the line on Friday – before the extreme icy conditions caused routes across Kent to close. I am now writing to the bosses of Southeastern and Network Rail, requesting that the Dover to Ramsgate line is not thrown over like this again.
The powers-that-be should know by now that in Dover and Deal we are not the types to go away quietly. No matter the challenge, we'll keep fighting to get our fair share.
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