12 APR 2018

Hard won investment is making the change in Dover & Deal

Walking around Dover these days you can sense a real buzz. After many long years of hard work, people can see things are finally starting to happen.

Every week a new business is opening at the St James site. First it was Cineworld, then Nando's, then Poundland and Food Warehouse. Now Travelodge is open too – bringing more jobs and visitors to our corner of Kent.

When I first campaigned to be your Member of Parliament more than eight years ago – I promised to do everything I could to bring more jobs and money to Dover and Deal. Since then we've had more than £500 million of investment and unemployment has halved.

It's not been easy. We've faced many challenges and setbacks along the way. Yet at last things are changing.

When I parked up at St James, a man approached me shouting: "Oi, is that who I think it is?" I wondered what I might have done to upset him. But then he came running over, shook my hand and said: "It's great here, isn't it?"

The new cinema and shops were bustling with customers. Some people scoffed at the excitement surrounding the announcement that Nando's was coming to town. Yet it was very busy when I went for lunch there – so it's clearly popular.

It was great to see that lots of people were following the route from St James past the Lord Nelson pub and towards Market Square. We must do everything we can to support the hardworking small business owners in the high street. That's why I'm fully backing district council leader Keith Morris' plan to invest £500,000 in the area.

Meanwhile, at the Western Docks amazing progress in being made. I was shown up close the great steel pylons which will form the structure of the new marina curve. Concrete slabs are being laid on top before commercial units are constructed. Port chairman Richard Everitt and his team deserve great credit for the incredible work done so far.

Boosting the cargo business will help the port grow – and opens up the potential for more ferry crossings at the Eastern Docks. Yet the most exciting prospect of all is the new marina curve. Once built, bustling with bars and cafes right on the seafront, it is sure to attract visitors from all over. I can't wait to sit down and enjoy the view, watching the ferries come and go.

So, a new-look seafront is on the way and St James is up and running. Despite the doom-mongers saying that it could never be done. That Burlington House would forever tower over our town. That to have a six-screen cinema in the centre of Dover was in the realms of fantasy.

We've come a long way together since 2010 - and we're delivering investment that's making the change in Dover & Deal.


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Charlie Elphicke

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