The time between Christmas and New Year is a chance to take stock of the year that has been, as well as planning for the year ahead. There is no doubt that the past year has been another eventful one for our community.
The pandemic has been the most serious crisis our country has faced since the Second World War. It has been a tough time for everyone. So many families have lost loved ones. While the virus has taken a heavy toll on our economy. So it is great news that the incredible COVID vaccination programme allowed us to bring the virus under control and emerge from lockdown last Summer. It meant we could focus more on rebuilding and recovery.
Jobs and investment matters to us all. Successfully fighting to secure over £100 million of investment in new border facilities was important. It will secure over 650 local jobs. While new investment in Dover’s Buckland Hospital will see more healthcare provided locally in our community, providing quicker diagnosis of cancer and other serious conditions that need urgent treatment.
It was good to see the high speed train service restored for Deal, Walmer and Martin Mill. While I continue to battle to see the dualling of the A2 taken forward as soon as possible – including improving the capacity at Whitfield and other local roundabouts.
Our community was rocked by the shocking killing of local PCSO Julia James in April. In December, there was the tragic loss of 27 lives in the English Channel. This was a wake-up call that the migrant crisis must now come to an end before even more lives are lost. The French need to tackle the people traffickers who ply their trade openly in Calais and stop these small boats leaving French shores in the first place. Only when migrants and traffickers alike know they will not succeed will the small boats crisis finally come to an end.
It’s been a busy year on many other fronts too – vaccination centres were successfully secured for our community last Spring to speed the local roll out of jabs. A flood task force has been set up to address long standing problems in Deal and the villages. Meanwhile, I have been pressing the case for a White Cliffs memorial to Dame Vera Lynn. Hundreds more Police officers are on the way for Kent, while I continue to see many people in my constituency surgeries and work hard to secure urgent improvements to our local maternity services.
I hope you have had a good Christmas break and a well-deserved rest. I wish you a Happy New Year. With the booster, we will hopefully be able to continue to recover and rebuild next year. So let’s raise a glass to the future of Dover & Deal in 2022 and make the best of the year to come.