Helen Grant MP~E-Communiqué December 1st 2015

Hello again everyone

The many campaigns I have been running in the constituency continue unabated and I am pleased to set out some snippets of my activities below by way of an update.

There’s also a section on some of my Westminster business, just to keep you informed.

For those who do not recieve the local press you might like to review my weekly columns for the Kent Messenger on my website by clicking here;

and you can also view some of the press releases we send out by clicking here;

I am here for everyone in Maidstone & The Weald and if there is anything you feel I can help you with, please contact my office – for detailsclick here

Whilst the content of this newsletter is upbeat and positive, I cannot sign off without expressing the deep concerns I have about the terrorist threats our country is facing and the possibility of sending more of our armed forces into a theatre of war.  At the time of writing I am preparing for an expected Commons Vote, tomorrow, on extending our involvement in airstrikes against ISIS targets into Syria.

I have received mixed representations from many constituents, both in writing and in discussion, all of which I have taken on board.  I now await the detail of the motion that will be put before us and I will consider every word of the ensuing debate with great care before making my own decision on this, the gravest of issues.

Best wishes

 

 

 

 

 

*******

Campaign to stop rural speeding

The campaign to reduce traffic speeding in rural areas gathered new momentum when our Rural Speeding Working Group (pictured) agreed first steps in tackling the problem back in September.Police agreed to join local community Speedwatch Teams as a visible deterrent and to obtain evidence for prosecutions. This has now been implemented.

County, Borough and Parish Councillors will be actively encouraging Kent Highways to support a ‘Twenty’s plenty’ lower speed initiative, restricting speed limits to 20mph outside schools.

And they are also lobbying for new fixed cameras in places of ‘evident danger’. This is significant because presently fixed speed control cameras are only installed at places where a fatal incident has already occurred.

Next meeting – Friday 4th December – I’ll keep you posted as to developments.

Supporting sport in Maidstone

Mote park is presently the home of the Mote Cricket Club and Maidstone Rugby Club.  Both Clubs have great aspirations for their teams, their supporters and for the people of our County town but the present facilities are not adequate for the growth they are each planning.For the past 15 months I have been working with both clubs alongside Maidstone Borough Council to try and find a lasting solution.  We are making good progress and I will remain on the case until it is solved.

Dandelion Time Rowathon 2015

Dandelion Time works with children affected by the harshest personal circumstances, including physical or sexual abuse, domestic violence, or neglect.Part of their constant fundraising drive is through their annual Rowathon event.  This year volunteers rowed the equivalent distance of 5,600 miles, from Marden to Madagascar, on rowing machines, raising money for every mile covered.

I had the pleasure of rowing the first few miles of the event at the 7R Performance Gym in Marden. Congratulations to everyone involved and for raising an amazing £13,000 so far (with more sponsorship still to come in) for this wonderful Charity.

If you want to know more about Dandelion Time, to donate or perhaps to volunteer, click here

Special Constables awards dinner

The Special Constabulary is the UK’s part-time police force and is made up of members of the public who volunteer to spend some of their time helping to police their local community.At the 2015 Kent Special Constabulary awards dinner in Maidstone, I had the pleasure of presenting Ben Elsey (pictured) with the Special Constable of the Year Award. The event also gave me the opportunity to say some words of thanks to everyone present for the work they carry out in our communities, keeping us safe and maintaining law and order.

If you’re interested in joining ‘The Specials’  click here

Cranbrook Community Hub

When Cranbrook’s council offices were demolished in 2011 local people, and notably the Parish Council together with Cllr Seán Holden, have undertaken nothing short of a crusade to find new premises to form a new hub for the community.Their work has resulted in a marvellous opportunity in the centre of the town enabled by an adjacent small mixed development in the derelict engineering site off Stone Street.

I have been involved with this process for 7 years and at a meeting of the Tunbridge Wells Borough Council Planning Committee on the 11th November a critical milestone was reached;

The decision was made to allow the developers to demolish the buildings on the site (subject to conditions) thus enabling work to progress to a full planning application for the regeneration of the town centre and a new community hub. Bravo!

(Photo – successful campaigners outside the Council Chamber celebrating the momentous decision).

Maidstone Business Club

Maidstone Business Club is a new venture being hosted by Maidstone Rugby Club and I was delighted to attend their inaugural lunch event at Bearsted Golf Club.  I had a great opportunity to chat about challenges and opportunities with some of our local business people as well as congratulate Maidstone Rugby on winning the RFU Intermediate Cup 2014-15 (photo).The purpose of the Business Club is to provide businesses in Maidstone and the surrounding region with a networking opportunity and to support Maidstone Rugby which will promote, host and facilitate the Business Club.

The monthly events shall be a gathering of Owners, Partners, Directors and Senior Managers across a broad range of industries in the Maidstone area.

For further information click here, or email Richard Ewence at richewence@gmail.com, or call 07710 153363.

Supporting Maidstone Mencap’s huge fundraising push

The success of Maidstone Mencap’s fundraising efforts are more important than ever this year with the need to raise £100,000 for major roof repairs to their Cobtree Hall building in Mote Park.Maidstone Mencap run playgroups, holiday and youth clubs for children with special and complex needs and I am very proud to support them as an Honorary Vice President.  (Photo: at the Maidstone Mencap Christmas Bazaar on Saturday 28th November).

Click here to help the wonderful Mencap team continue their work in partnership with people who have a learning disability, helping them to live life as they choose.

To make a donation to Maidstone Mencap roof fund you can text ‘MMCH42’ followed by the amount you wish to give to this number: 70070

MyGuide programme for the blind and paritally sighted

To walk through the centre of Maidstone blind-folded amidst busy shoppers and noisy delivery trucks on a Friday afternoon is unnerving to say the least.It is an experience I would recommend to most sighted people as an enlightening illustration of the challenges blind and partially sighted people among us face every day.

The MyGuide service involves volunteers who are trained to help blind people gain confidence, increase independence, enjoy activities, meet people and just get out of the house.  They took me through my walkabout with Gordon the guide dog, then a walking cane and finally with a Sighted Guide by my side as I walked without vision from my Maidstone East office through Fremlin Walk, up Earl Street and back along Week Street.

Click here to find out more about MyGuide and perhaps consider joining as a volunteer.

IN PARLIAMENT 1 – Traveller sites

I was contacted by constituents and councillors relating to Traveller Sites back in April this year, with particular concerns about the much publicised Folly Farm planning application in Staplehurst.Further to my meetings with local people and Maidstone Borough Council I called upon the Minister to give clarity to the position, who agreed to meet me with a small delegation in Westminster.  We were seeking clarification over the numbers of sites, retrospective permissions and the definition of ‘Traveller’ among other things.

Helpful new government policy guidance was subsequently issued ( click here) and I am pleased to report that the Minister has said our submissions were compelling and persuasive in that process.

IN PARLIAMENT 2 – DfID Select Committee

Every new Parliament elects ‘select committees’ whose role is to hold the relevant Government Department to account. I stood for the International Development committee and was delighted to have been chosen by my peers.We are now busy ensuring DfID’s budget is being spent appropriately and effectively. It is highly relevant with regard to the current Syrian refugee crisis (which was the subject of discussion in this photo) as well as Climate Change and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) agreed at a UN summit of 193 member nations in New York in September.

The SDGs are designed to guide government policy in 193 UN member nations over the next 15 years. ( click here for more).

IN PARLIAMENT 3 – Our schools in Parliament

Over the summer recess a new building was opened on the Parliamentary Estate – the Parliamentary Education Centre.It is a world-class education facility designed to inspire and connect young people with Parliament and democracy.   The facilities make use of creative and immersive technology to create a unique learning experience.

I have already welcomed three of our schools there; New Line Learning (pictured), Mid Kent College and Benenden School, and on each occasion we have enjoyed a robust question and answer session where students were really engaged with the role our politicians play in their world.  I hope some will become involved in politics themselves in the future.

Schools that are interested in visiting the new education centre should  click here for more information.

For other groups and individuals interested in undertaking a tour of Parliament click here for more information.

IN PARLIAMENT 4 – The spending review

There was much to be pleased about last week for the people of Maidstone & The Weald and for the County of Kent generally in the Chancellor’s Comprehensive Spending review.In partilcular it saw the culmination of three campaigns that my Kent colleagues and I have been working together on for many months.

The Operation Stack campaign (see letter from George Osborne) has secured £250 million toward a long term proposal to alleviate the problem

The F40 campaign has secured an agreement to fix a new pupil based formula for Fairer School funding, which will see greater funding for many Kent schools.

My Flood Forum stakeholders will also welcome confirmation of the funding we were promised for new flood protection schemes

…..and there was much more for Maidstone & The Weald too; money for potholes, money for school rebuilding and refurbishment and money for nearby Enterprise Zone intiatives.  You can read or view the Chancellor’s speech by clicking here

We press onwards and upwards and I’ll be in touch again soon.

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