Following two serious road traffic accidents in Hawkhurst, Greg has expressed his frustration at the lack of progress on changing the policy on the location of new fixed speed cameras so that it takes Speedwatch data into account.
"Last summer, I called a meeting with Kent Highways and the police to press the case for using data collected by Speedwatch volunteers to help inform the location of new fixed speed cameras. At the moment, the criteria for installing speed cameras is based on the number of fatal or serious accidents along a particular stretch of road. Speedwatch provides accurate information on where people are regularly breaking the speed limit and I think this also needs to be taken into account. One of the villages I cited at that meeting was Hawkhurst where Speedwatch volunteers had observed the highest proportion of speeders compared to any other Speedwatch scheme in the whole of Kent and very sadly there have recently been two very serious road traffic accidents – one involving fatalities.
"It is unacceptable, therefore, that whilst both Kent Highways and the police promised to review their stance on this, they remain of the opinion that Speedwatch data should not influence the location of new speed cameras. I have asked them to urgently reconsider their position."
Hawkhurst has the highest combined score (47/60) of any Speedwatch scheme in Kent (the next highest is 37/60). This score is based on the number of speeders observed per active session day, the proportion of excessive speeders and the proportion of advice letters generated.
During 2014 and 2015, Hawkhurst Speedwatch recorded the highest number of speeders in Kent (8,453 compared with 7,349 for the next highest scheme).
Six of the eight highest speeders recorded throughout Kent in 40mph zones were in Hawkhurst.
The two recent accidents took place in Hawkhurst on Sunday 24 September 2017 where three people died after a car crashed into a wall and on Sunday 22 October 2017 where two people were injured.
In August, Greg contacted the Chief Executive of UK Power Networks, Basil Scarsella, to ask for urgent action after local residents and representatives from Lamberhurst Parish Council came to see him at one of his advice surgeries to raise concerns about ongoing and frequent power cuts in Lamberhurst Down. In June 2017, residents of Lamberhurst Down experienced at least 8 power cuts – some of which lasted a number of hours.
The power cuts were caused by a faulty underground cable running through the grounds of Scotney Castle and although it had been agreed that a new power cable would be installed, archaeological works need to be undertaken beforehand which means that the works are unlikely to be completed until the summer of 2018.
The Chief Executive of UK Power Networks agreed to install an additional cable outside the castle which should provide a fast and reliable back-up if the main cable fails.
UK Power Networks has just confirmed with Greg that this work is now completed.
"I am delighted that UK Power Networks has resolved this issue so quickly. They have told me that the majority of residents have now been separated from the cable that was causing the problem and which runs through the grounds of Scotney castle. For those residents that still rely on this cable, they have added automatic switches which means that a faulty section can be isolated and bypassed ensuring the electricity supply can be quickly restored.
"Good progress is also being made to full replace the cable running through the grounds of Scotney Castle and UK Power Networks has told me that this work should be completed by next summer."
Greg enjoyed visiting one of the oldest manufacturing companies in Kent which has been producing tinwhistles since 1843 – around the time Charles Dickens wrote 'A Christmas Carol'.
The company, which is based in Five Oak Green, exports about 80% of its products to countries outside the European Union, particularly to America & China.
Robert Clarke invented the tinwhistle nearly 175 years ago to inspire people of all ages to enjoy music by providing a high quality but inexpensive instrument for them to play.
Greg met with local members of the National Farmers Union to discuss current issues affecting their businesses.
The meeting took place on a free range egg farm near Bedgebury, Fridays Ltd, which is one of the three biggest egg producers and packers in the country.
Greg met the Sixth Form of Skinners Kent Academy to talk about working in politics as part of their careers programme.
On the day of his visit, the school had received the news that the progress of its students in Maths and English ranks it within the top 2% of schools - with similar starting points – in the country.
"Skinners Kent Academy goes from strength to strength. To be in the top 2% of schools in the country for progress in Maths and English is a fantastic achievement and a testimony to the great work of all the teaching staff."
"So, what's next?" It's a question I've been asked a lot recently, now the A21 flows fast and free. The truth is we've only just started.
As I wrote last month, the day before its official opening, the next stage of the A21 campaign is to get the section between the Blue Boys Roundabout and Lamberhurst upgraded. And so I want to take this opportunity to set out where we are.
In January last year, the Hastings MP, Amber Rudd, and I met with the Transport Secretary to remind him that – as delighted as we were with the new road – we didn't see Tonbridge to Pembury as the end of our campaign. We made clear our vision of a modern dual carriageway running from Sevenoaks to Hastings, one which befits the main link between the M25 and South Coast.
Two months later, on a freezing March morning, Amber and I took the Roads Minister for a drive to show him what is needed. We met in Tonbridge before travelling along the A21 to Lamberhurst so he could see for himself the need for the further works – and yes, we were stuck in traffic!
The trip must have left a lasting impression because earlier this year a report by Highways England acknowledged that there are important safety issues, congestion and a restriction in capacity on the route. This report will be considered by the Roads Minister and Transport Secretary as part of the Government's Road Investment Strategy, a plan which informs which main roads will be upgraded between 2020 and 2025.
Since the General Election there's another Roads Minister and just as I did with each of his predecessors I will be meeting him later this month, setting out the case for further investment to make the next section of the A21 a priority.
Again, as before, I will be working with the whole community as well as businesses, councillors and MPs along the whole route. We'll be pushing to make our case. We'll be scrutinising proposals across the country: ensuring our cause is never undersold. There'll be meetings, events, letters and consultations – and I daresay I'll be taking the new Minister for a spin too!
One of the most powerful things in any debate about priorities are the personal stories which illustrate a point and that's where I need your help now. When at the end of the month I meet the Roads Minister, I want to go armed with accounts of the missed opportunities and wasted hours so I can convey the very real need for this work.
Whether you be someone who travels between Blue Boys and Lamberhurst, all the way to Hastings, or somewhere in between, I want to hear from you. Whether you have loved ones or clients put off travelling the other way, I want to hear from you. Or if it has any other impact on your life, I want to hear from you.
The story of the Tonbridge to Pembury dualling is that persistence pays. I'm sure there'll be ups and downs, setbacks as well as advances. But as with the Castle Hill section, I will not rest until I see the bulldozers start work. Together we can drive this through.
Greg met with Ben Dale, Director of Jestic – the UK's largest supplier of fast food equipment. The company also specialises in open-plan food preparation equipment which allows restaurant customers to be immersed in the theatre of cooking.
Jestic was one of 1,000 companies to be recognised by the London Stock Exchange last year as the UK's fastest growing and most dynamic small to medium sized businesses.
Greg met with members of Paddock Wood Business Association. The meeting was hosted by the company Bidfood.
After receiving a number of complaints about the local patient transport service, Greg called a meeting with the company that provide the service, G4S, and West Kent Clinical Commissioning Group who arrange the contract.
After the meeting, Greg said:
"I told both G4S and West Kent Clinical Commissioning Group that the poor service that they have been providing is unacceptable. Patients have been left stranded for hours, often late into the night, in London hospitals and have also sometimes been picked up so late that they have missed vital appointments. The people that use the service are often very unwell and it is crucial to their health that they can rely on getting to their medical appointments on time.
"The local NHS Commissioning Group told me that there have indeed been problems with the new contract which, for the first time, included journeys to London hospitals. They said that they realised quite quickly that it had been a mistake to include these so the responsibility for journeys to London hospitals has been passed back and priority given to journeys to local NHS appointments.
"I had also been told by patients that complaints about the service had been unanswered and that they had not been kept updated when things did go wrong. In response to this, G4S has set up a new dedicated complaints team and have committed to improved customer service including letting people know if, for example, a vehicle is running late.
"I welcome these steps but I will be keeping a very close eye on how things go over the coming months. If anyone experiences any problems with the patient transport service, I would be very grateful if you could let me know."
Following two serious road traffic accidents in Hawkhurst, Greg has expressed his frustration at the...
In August, Greg contacted the Chief Executive of UK Power Networks, Basil Scarsella, to ask for...
Greg enjoyed visiting one of the oldest manufacturing companies in Kent which has been producing...
Greg met with local members of the National Farmers Union to discuss current issues affecting their...