Last week I attended the Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham. I have been to Birmingham a number of times over the years, and I was struck by how much construction and business activity there was all over the city. It is very much a busy city, at the heart of the thriving Midlands economy.
The Port of Dover, supporting thousands of jobs and livelihoods across our area, is very much linked with the Midlands and the North. The Port transits ‘just in time’ goods to the manufacturing hubs in the Midlands and beyond. Coming back the other way is fresh seafood from Scotland on its way to European markets. The trade economic superhighway to the Channel Ports, both Eurotunnel and the Port of Dover, transit around 60% of trade between the UK and Europe.
That’s why I press for the investment needed to ensure the Port of Dover continues to grow and thrive alongside our local community. At the forefront of this work are the roads. My ‘Keep Dover Clear’ campaign has received support from Dover District Council, Kent County Council, Transport Ministers and the former Prime Minister. That top level support was vital in deploying the armed forces into Dover when the French unilaterally shut the border in Christmas 2020. It has been essential in ensuring that the French brought in the required number of staff for their passport checks after the fiasco at the beginning of this Summer. It is central to the work being undertaken on the A2 upgrade, alongside the Whitfield and Duke of York roundabouts. I am pleased that the design work on a new traffic solution has now been agreed upon to improve the Whitfield roundabout and I’ll be pressing to see that put in place.
At the conference, I welcomed the Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch to the Port of Dover’s ‘Great British Trade’ event. There I made the case for the need for an urgent solution to deliver the new European entry-exit checks that are due early next year. These new checks risk delaying the smooth passage between the UK and the EU. Ensuring that there is a proportionate and sensible approach to how these checks are carried out will be important to continue with free-flowing ‘just in time’ transit for business and tourists alike.
I have long been campaigning to move the Dover TAP back away from Aycliffe. Its impact is grossly unfair on the local residents. Intended as a temporary fix back in 2015, TAP has become a permanent feature. At last, some concrete proposals to tackle the Dover TAP location look set to be brought forward. I’ll be doing everything I can to support the move back of TAP and ensure that the needs of local residents continue to be at the forefront of roads and border planning, so both our Port and our town can grow and thrive together.