Roads, water, broadband and sewage matter to us all. That’s why the right physical infrastructure in place to support our community is vital. Infrastructure supports our existing community, as well as our ambitions for future growth. It is an important part of my role as your Member of Parliament to press for the right infrastructure to be planned, funded and delivered to meet those needs, and last week I had a number of parliamentary meetings about these matters.
Water and sewage provision have been causing particular concern over the winter months. Parts of Deal around the Albert Road area saw repeats of overflowing raw sewage flooding into homes following storms and bad weather. Along with Cllr Trevor Bond, I have been supporting residents in getting to the bottom of why this has happened again, after firm assurances from the water company, Southern Water, that this sewage problem had been fixed. This week I met with the Chief Executive of the water regulator, Ofwat, to discuss the local issues that we are having.
Ofwat are taking formal steps to investigate the Albert Road flooding situation. But the problems around water and sewage planning have been affecting planning permissions for new homes and business space too. So in my meeting with the water regulatory boss I have asked for the regulator’s help at getting better planning and investment in water infrastructure across our area, including supporting sustainable water systems that are being designed for upcoming larger development sites.
Dover District Council are currently consulting on their draft Local Plan, with proposals for new homes and business spaces. So as well as Ofwat, I met with the Housing and Planning Minister, Chris Pincher, to discuss the impact that the water issue is having on bringing forward housing in our area. It is important to make sure that the water and other utility companies play their part in making sure that the right level of planning and investment is put in place to support our community.
Last week I also had detailed technical meetings on another vital programme for our area – that of roads. Dover is a core part of the national strategic roads network, with two national arteries, the M20/A20 and the M2/A2. Last year I secured a place on the road investment programme for developing proposals for upgrades to the A2.
Central to the business case for the new roads programme is forecasting the road movements expected in the future and considering different route options. My meetings this week with the A2 and Lower Thames Crossing national development teams were to make sure that this important project continues to progress notwithstanding the pandemic, and it is. So I am working hard to make sure the longer term infrastructure, investment, planning and decisions are being taken so we can continue to grow and thrive as a community in the years to come.