Last week in the House of Commons, I called on the Prime Minister to do more to support areas like Dover and Deal after we leave the EU. We must ensure that a renaissance of the regions – including in coastal towns like ours – is at the very heart of building Brexit Britain.
Theresa May agreed that it is vital to support "left behind" communities. There is no doubt that the 2016 EU referendum was a vote to take back control and for change. A vote heard loudest in the historic towns and regions of our nation – but far less so in the big cities that account for so much of our national wealth.
People in Dover and Deal are proud of their towns and their community. Yet many feel deeply that Britain works for the big cities, but not for communities like ours. That's why since 2010 I've been fighting hard for us to get our fair share – and to ensure our voice is heard.
We've been battling for stronger borders – dismantling the Calais Jungle and tackling the people trafficking and illegal immigration we have seen for so long here at the Dover frontline.
We've been fighting county lines drugs gangs – getting stronger sentences for the dealers and more police officers on our streets. Just last week we secured £800,000 for the St Giles Trust charity, which has a proven track record of tackling these drugs gangs locally.
We've worked hard to deliver a fairer share of healthcare – getting the new £24 million Buckland Hospital built and safeguarding Deal Hospital. A new £30 million East Kent Medical School is on the way too, so more GPs and nurses can be trained locally.
School standards are on the rise too and the number people in our community with no qualifications has halved. Our early years education is ranked the second best in the entire country. And we delivered a £25 million new school building for Goodwin Academy – a school on the up.
We've also delivered more jobs and investment in our area. With the St James cinema and shops, the transformed Deal Pier, the new leisure centre and the Western Docks Revival, more than £500 million has been invested since 2010. And 7,700 more jobs have been created.
Yet this should be just the start. Brexit Britain must provide a fairer share for Dover and Deal. That means better road links for our area – with the A2 dualled and for a modern link road from the A256 to northern Deal. Dover should be made a free port to attract even more investment.
Brexit Britain must be a fairer country – one where big businesses are made to pay a fair share of taxes. It's time for a level tax playing field between town centre shops and online giants like Amazon. Our high streets are hubs of our communities. That's why I'm backing the bid by Dover Town Team to revitalise Market Square. And I'm working with the council to secure cash from the Government's Future High Streets Fund.
We must deliver a renaissance of the regions – and we need to get on with it. We need to leave the EU no later than March 29th and start building Brexit Britain.
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