Rest in Peace Julia James
Our community was rocked this week by the shocking murder of local PCSO Julia James while walking her dog near her home in Snowdown.
Kent Police have warned everyone to be vigilant at this time – and it is important that we all heed that advice.
I am in close contact with Kent Police about this. If anyone has any information they must contact Kent Police straight away.
My thoughts and prayers are with Julia’s family and friends at this difficult time.
Battling for jobs, investment and opportunity for all
Day by day, virus cases have been falling, vaccination rates have been rising and deaths are much reduced. While we must remain vigilant, Covid is increasingly under control. That’s why my focus is also strongly on the recovery.
The past year has taken a heavy toll on the national economy. Unemployment across the country is higher than before the pandemic. Looking across the country, our own area has fared better than some others, but it has still been very hard hit. Locally over 4,000 people are on unemployment benefits – an additional 1,700 since the start of the pandemic. More than 1 in 10 local young people are claiming employment related benefits, lower than the national average but still very worrying. A year on, a further 6,000 local workers remain on furlough. As each week, month or year goes by, the impact of not being in work adds up, emotionally and financially. Each unemployment number is a family struggling to pay their bills or a young person not able to find a home of their own or shape their future. That is why I work tirelessly to secure more jobs, investment and money for our community.
For example, the proposed border control facility at Whitfield could bring millions of pounds of investment and hundreds of new jobs, directly on the construction and operation of the site, as well as supporting the local economy and Port. I want those jobs and that investment. Yet I have also ensured concerns of residents living nearby are heard at the highest levels of Government. Inevitably this means that there is a risk that the jobs and investment will go to Ashford or elsewhere. It is an example of the challenge in balancing competing interests locally in bringing forward sites which have been earmarked for business growth.
The Dame Vera Lynn memorial proposals would see new entertainment and arts venues created, with an economic benefit as well as a cultural one. Alongside Dover District Council, I have been pressing ministers to support our community. This work is paying off with millions of pounds of direct Government support coming in for Covid recovery, the future High Street plans and much more besides. Yet there is much more to do.
I will continue to do all I can to back more local jobs. Especially at the Port as the pandemic continues to ease. I hope we will see a strong bounce-back as freight and passenger volumes rise. We are winning the battle against the virus. Now we must win the recovery. The UK is set to see record growth in the next year. I want to ensure that our community benefits fully from that growth. A strong recovery for our area is a key priority of mine. I will continue to battle every day for all the jobs and money I can help deliver for our community.