Transport affects every corner of the Dover and Deal constituency. A strong and resilient road network is vital for residents and businesses alike. So improvements to our roads are one of my key priorities all year round. It’s why the £45 million successful Levelling Up bid for improvements at the Port of Dover and to ease congestion on our local roads is so welcome.
The Port of Dover is the busiest and most successful port of its type in the UK. It is fantastic that we benefit from the thousands of jobs and business opportunities that the Port supports across Kent. That’s in freight transport and trade, but also in maritime skills training, shops, hotels and tourism. Making sure that we continue to strengthen our roads and modernise our borders is vital if we are to build on this success.
Later this year, the European Entry/Exit System is due to come into force which will include biometric passport control processes. Strong borders are important, and I have called for an acceleration of the UK’s own digital borders programme. However, it’s still not clear how these new passport checks will work in practice at the Port and Eurotunnel. I have called for action on this in Parliament so that the new border changes are properly planned and implemented. If they are then that will minimise disruption to our area from these changes. As with any major border changes, it is also important that our local infrastructure is as ready and prepared as it can be. Opportunities for improving the layout and systems around access to the Port became clear during preparatory work for the upcoming changes. Improvements will now go ahead with this new multi-million pound Government levelling up investment.
This very large investment is welcome. It forms part of the work I have been undertaking on roads and local infrastructure improvements. In 2020 I secured a place on the national roads pipeline programme for our area. For the last two years I have been working with the national expert technical teams within the Department of Transport and National Highways who are designing improvements to our road network, making the case for investment and improvement in our Dover and Kent roads.
Last week I met with the Secretary of State for Transport Mark Harper to discuss the improvements in access at the Port and the broader Kent roads programme. That programme of work includes the Whitfield roundabout, the Dover Tap and its impact on Aycliffe and the M2/A2 upgrade, lorry parks across Kent as well as Operation Brock along the M20.
The Levelling-Up success provides a great opportunity to make our local roads better and more resilient. It’s right that we make the most of it and build on that success. I’ll continue to be a strong champion for our area’s roads and our community as a whole.