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News From Your MP

Helen Whately’s Parish Update 

Recovery Drive

Along with schools going back this month, September also saw the return of MPs to Westminster.

Like workplaces across the country, Parliament is beginning to look and feel more like normal with more MPs allowed in the Commons and more face-to-face meetings.

There are signs of our recovery across the economy with the employment rate back to where it was before Covid, wages rising, and the UK having the fastest growth in the G7.

We had to take difficult decisions during the pandemic, and tough decisions are needed again to help the NHS and social care recover from the last 18 months. That's why we're introducing our Health and Care Levy to beat the backlogs in the NHS and deliver reform of social care.

It’s not just in health and social care that we're determined to build back better. I’ve been meeting local businesses to hear how Government support for jobs is helping our local economy recover from the pandemic.

Extra investment has helped deliver record numbers of police officers in Kent, and I’ve set out my vision for a better local bus network as part of a £5 billion funding boost for bus and cycle links across the country.

The risks from Covid have not gone away. We face a difficult few months ahead, but our vaccine rollout has given us cause for optimism. 

Record investment in NHS and social care

We’re investing £36 billion in health and social care over the next 3 years – giving people peace of mind that they won't face catastrophic care costs.

Our new Health and Care Levy will kickstart reform of social care - making life better for those who need care now, unpaid carers, care workers & all of us who may need care in the future.

It was a huge privilege to serve as Care Minister during the past 18 months. It’s been the hardest of times yet now social care reform is happening and we’re on track for 50,000 more NHS nurses.

Local Plan shake up leaves residents in limbo

I’ve called for answers from Swale Borough Council on what changes to the Local Plan process will mean for local residents.

The Council has now said that they will be adding an additional stage to the Local Plan process after having previously given local people very little say on the proposals.

While I welcome the Council’s decision to engage more with residents, there are many unanswered questions about this new process, which I've set out in a letter to the Council's Chief Executive.

New role to lead recovery from Covid

I’m delighted to have been appointed Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury as part of the Prime Minister's reshuffle. 

As Exchequer Secretary I’ll be working hard to deliver economic growth, more jobs with better pay, and higher productivity – helping to raise living standards for everyone.

Our focus on jobs and better infrastructure will help deliver a recovery that benefits everyone, including here in Faversham and Mid Kent.

Record numbers of police in Kent

There are now 3,971 police officers across Kent helping to keep us safe.

This is 242 more officers since September 2019, and 184 more officers than in 2010. There has also been an increase in Police Community Support Officers.

I’m continuing to work with our local police and councils to help tackle crime in known trouble spots to keep communities across Faversham and Mid Kent safe.

Lower Thames Crossing latest

In my latest consultation response to the Lower Thames Crossing, I've called for investment across the road network in Kent.

Plans for a new road tunnel under the Thames near Gravesend could bring benefits to people in Faversham and Mid Kent, but only if the project is combined with investment across the wider road network.

Junctions including M2/J7 at Brenley Corner, and the A249 and the A229 need improving to avoid traffic problems at Dartford simply being shifted to other parts of the road network.

Getting investment in our water network

I’ve called on Southern Water to set out a clear plan for improving the water network in Faversham and Mid Kent.

Like many people, I was extremely concerned by the flooding over the summer and the closure of local beaches for swimming because of sewage ending up in the sea.

I’ll be meeting Southern Water later this year to set out the investment we need in our local water network, including in Headcorn.

Better lorry parking needed more than ever

I know the shortage of lorry drivers across Europe is a huge concern to many local businesses. It has highlighted the need for better conditions for drivers – including safe places to park and access services.

I've written to the Roads Minister to call for more lorry parking capacity in Kent and other parts of the country.

Better parking is not just needed to support the welfare of lorry drivers but also to stop lorry fly-parking in our lanes and laybys, which can be incredibly dangerous.

A plan for better buses

As part of efforts to build back better from the pandemic, I've set out the improvements our local bus service needs.

In my response to Kent County Council's consultation on their Bus Service Improvement Plan, I’ve called for a focus on the rural bus network along with better integration of bus timetables with the rest of the transport network in Kent.

August saw the introduction of the X3 and X4 bus routes which are providing new direct services between Canterbury, Faversham, Sittingbourne, and Maidstone - something I have been calling for.