My regular update - 4 March 2019

This is likely to be a week of ‘lull’ before the Brexit storm lands in Parliament again next week, with three days of debate and votes planned. As ever in this fast-moving drama, all is subject to last minute change.

Canvassing for the local elections on 2nd May across Thanet has commenced in earnest and it has been good to be back on the streets speaking to residents; always the best way to really gauge the public mood on issues. It is clear the majority of local people do not want this half-in, half-out Brexit deal, that we must leave on 29th March as promised, and if that means a managed ‘no deal’ under WTO terms then so be it.

The issue of Port Ramsgate continues to receive local and national media attention. In some ways, with the likelihood of Seaborne or others coming to Ramsgate now vanishingly small, despite government support, this is an opportunity to bring closure to this long-running saga despite aspirations across many Thanet District Council administrations. It cannot be said that all have not tried. I was pleased to note the 2019/20 budget passed by the Council reflecting this reality with a commitment for a feasibility study as to the way forwards. We have a unique asset of 32 acres of prime waterfront land that other areas would regard as a gold-plated gift for positive regeneration. I would recommend we get together as a community and look to a new future that would benefit the area, it is something I’ve been encouraging for four years.

As the national Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Civic Societies, I was pleased to lead an event in Parliament to further the discussion on the future of our High Streets, and how changing purchasing habits, with a rapid rise in internet shopping, means that the traditional view of High Streets as simply a place to shop will not hold into the future. They must be attractive places to visit and enjoy as a leisure activity as well if they are to have a future, and I’m pleased to see that Thanet District Council will be putting in a bid for their share of the £675 million Future High Street Fund.

With the transfer of stroke services to the William Harvey hospital, Ashford coming out as the preferred option under the review, this has understandably caused alarm amongst Thanet residents. I have had numerous meetings with the clinical professionals and campaigners and can agree the need for Hyper Acute Stroke Units, particularly as the six-unit configuration we currently have across Kent has poor ratings compared to the rest of the country. The question to be properly answered is ‘where should they be?’ I have launched a Parliamentary petition which I will present in the Chamber which asks for the decision to be reviewed by the Secretary of State for Health, to make sure the recommendation is sound, and whether the third HASU (or fourth) would not be best at the QEQM because of geography and time. Details on social media and my website. Do take part so that your voice is heard.