Tunbridge Wells MP, Greg Clark, has once again brought together MPs from across Kent and East Sussex in calling for the dualling of the rest of the A21.
In a letter to the Roads Minister, Jesse Norman MP, Greg and his Parliamentary colleagues for Bexhill & Battle, Hastings & Rye, Sevenoaks and Tonbridge & Malling have set out the compelling case for the dualling of the A21 from top to toe.
Safety, journey times, resilience and economic growth are all cited as evidence of the need to see what the MPs describe as their ambition to have "a modern dual carriageway which befits the main link between the M25 and south coast."
This comes on the back of the successful A21 campaign which saw the long-awaited dualling of the road between Tonbridge and Pembury, which was officially opened last year.
Commenting, Greg said, "We're at a really important stage in the campaign as the Government has been consulting on a plan, called the Road Investment Strategy, which informs which main roads will be upgraded between 2020 and 2025.
"Teamwork and tenacity secured success in our campaign to have the Tonbridge to Pembury stretch dualled, which benefits tens of thousands of people a day, and it's the same approach I am taking in pushing for the dualling of the section between the Blue Boys Roundabout and Lamberhurst, and then onto the rest of this important road."
"This joint letter demonstrates the unity amongst representatives along the whole route and makes clear the compelling case for this crucial upgrade."
Next month, the leaders of the European Union member states – including the United Kingdom – will meet to consider the latest stage of the negotiations on Britain's withdrawal from the EU.
It is an important meeting because it gives the opportunity, almost exactly one year before Brexit, to agree arrangements to make sure that people and businesses will not suffer an abrupt change in trading and working arrangements on the day we leave.
As both a local MP, and as Business Secretary in the Government, employers from small businesses to large manufacturers tell me that the certainty of a clear implementation period is the most important thing they need now to be able to operate with confidence in the next few months and years. A period of around two years from March 2019 would make sure that there were no sudden changes required, for which it would be difficult to plan in a matter of months. In fact, one of the reasons why it is so important, in my view and that of most businesses, that we reach agreement in March, is that there is from now a period of around three years of stability ahead – time for firms to plan for any changes they might need to make for the longer term.
Last week I wrote – along with the Chancellor, Philip Hammond, and the Brexit Secretary, David Davis, - to businesses across Britain to set out the approach that we will be seeking to agree.
The first element is stability during that period. There is no point businesses having to go through, in the space of two years, three different sets of rules whilst we are a member of the EU, during the implementation period, and following that period. That would cause unnecessary – and costly – disruption that would damage investment and jobs. So the terms of trade should remain as they are now.
The second is simplicity: every business – large or small, irrespective of their industry – should know that the certainty applies to them. It also means, for example, that the trading agreements that the EU has with other countries should continue to be available to British companies, even though we have left the EU.
The third is that people from other European countries should be clear that they can come and live and work in the UK during this period. Here in Tunbridge Wells unemployment is currently just 1.1%. Employers, including businesses, farmers and growers, and our local NHS, all tell me that it is often a struggle to recruit enough people to perform the work available, so it is important that we don't cut off the ability to employ people who come from our neighbouring countries.
These proposals have been warmly welcomed by business leaders and I hope that agreeing them in March will allow us to make progress with the next step, which is to agree the long-term relationship we will have with the European Union.
However we voted in the referendum , we all share a deep interest – along with our European neighbours – in ensuring that our future relationship is as strong and productive as it possibly can be. My job as Business Secretary in the Government gives me an important role to play in shaping that relationship and in the months ahead I will keep readers updated with the progress that I am determined to see made.
Greg was treated to an afternoon of song and dance when he visited Langton Green Primary School. The pupils have been studying rainforests and after their performances inspired by the animals and plants that live there, they talked to Greg about what they have learnt and asked him questions about what can be done to help protect this important natural resource.
Greg was delighted to draw the winning tickets for a raffle run by the Cook store in Tunbridge Wells for the Pickering Cancer Drop-in Centre. The raffle made well over £1,000 for the charity.
"I want to thank the Tunbridge Wells Cook store for supporting the Pickering Centre so generously and everyone that bought a raffle ticket. The Centre provides amazing support for those suffering from cancer and their friends and families."
Greg was delighted to hear that a new outreach Post Office service will operate from Matfield Village Hall three times a week. The old Post Office that was located in InnStore closed at the end of March 2017 when the premises was converted into an office.
"Post Offices provide a vitally important service in rural villages so I have been pressing the Post Office to do everything it can to get a new service up and running in Matfield. I know the Parish Council and Matfield Village Hall Committee have both been working really hard to find a solution and it's great news for the village that they've been able to find a new location."
The new service will be open every Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 9am - 1pm in Matfield Village Hall.
Greg met on Friday with the Chief Executive of Openreach, Clive Selley, to press for urgent upgrades across the constituency.
Commenting on the meeting, Greg said, "Most of the constituency has been upgraded to superfast broadband but that makes it all the more frustrating for those left behind. A fast and reliable connection is not a luxury – it is an essential part of modern life.
"I met with the Chief Executive of Openreach to raise a number of local examples where urgent improvements are required and stressed the importance of communicating with communities if there are delays.
"I will continue to do everything I can to support the rollout of superfast broadband and look forward to the long wait coming to an end."
Greg met with the Chief Executive of the Domestic Abuse Volunteer Support Service (DAVSS), Mark Hutcheon, to discuss its recruitment drive for new volunteers.
Over the last year, DAVSS has supported over 800 people who have suffered from domestic abuse and responded to more than 500 helpline callers.
"The work that DAVSS does in our local area to support victims of domestic abuse is incredibly important. The charity depends on volunteers so if you feel you can offer any time, I know that they would be delighted to hear from you."
Volunteers can support DAVSS in a number of ways including direct interaction with victims (following professional training) or through support roles such as marketing, graphic design and fundraising.
Click here for more information.
Small Business Saturday is a campaign to encourage people to visit small businesses in their local area.
"Small businesses are the lifeblood of our communities and vital to our economy, employing over 12.5million people nationally. It's really important that we recognise this contribution which is why I am a great supporter of Small Business Saturday.
"We have some thriving small businesses in Tunbridge Wells and it's vital that we continue to encourage this entrepreneurial spirit."
Following a consultation earlier in the year on the future of the South Eastern rail network, the Department for Transport has published the improvements which will be expected from the new franchise holder. Tunbridge Wells MP Greg Clark submitted his response to the Department's consultation in June, which was informed by the priorities of his constituents and input from his Rail Action Group of local commuters. Following the publication of the Department's report, Greg said:
"I was pleased to see that a number of key priorities from my response have made the Department for Transport's list of requirements for the next operator. This includes providing 40,000 more seats through longer trains and committing them to new standards of communications and customer service. The Department has listened to the concerns many people had about possible cuts to rural services, and has committed to protecting at the very least the existing service levels from stations such as Paddock Wood, Marden and Staplehurst. Passengers will also be able to benefit from improved compensation, with Delay Repay available after only 15 minutes, and Wi-Fi will be provided across the entire network. Smart ticketing will also be expanded, and I was delighted to see a commitment to introducing a carnet or other type of more flexible ticket for regular but not full-time commuters.
I very much welcome that the next operator will be held to a higher standard, and will expected to deliver a service that's more in line with what passengers deserve."
Greg visited the Freight Transport Association on Friday, planting a tree to mark the national trade association's forty years in the town before meeting with staff to discuss transport matters.
Commenting on his visit, Greg said:
"The Freight Transport Association has been the voice of Britain's transport industry for well over a century, now employing nearly four hundred people and representing over 16,000 members. They recognise what a great place Tunbridge Wells is to work, live and do business and so I was particularly pleased to join them in celebrating the fortieth anniversary of their move to the town. I wish the FTA and tree alike many years of healthy growth here in Tunbridge Wells."
Tunbridge Wells MP, Greg Clark, has once again brought together MPs from across Kent and East Sussex...
Next month, the leaders of the European Union member states – including the United Kingdom –...
Greg was treated to an afternoon of song and dance when he visited Langton Green Primary School....
Greg was delighted to draw the winning tickets for a raffle run by the Cook store in Tunbridge Wells...