08/11/18: Parliament Week

For our democracy to thrive, our Parliament must be relevant, open and accessible, and UK Parliament Week is aimed squarely at achieving those goals.

Parliament Week is a series of events designed to inspire interest and engagement in parliament, politics and democracy, particularly within younger people, and has taken place annually since 2011.

I support the initiative 100 percent, this year commencing on Monday 12th November and locally I am very much looking forward to partaking in a 'Votes at 16' debate at Maidstone Town Hall on Thursday 16th November. I hope many of you, from all age groups, will join us for what is sure to be a very lively discussion.

For me however, and for many of my colleagues in Parliament and in local government, seeking public engagement in our precious democracy is a ubiquitous occupation. Parliament Week is an important and useful aspect of that challenge, but it lasts just for one week and we need more constant and persistent attention to the issue if we are to rectify our democratic deficit.

In my role as a Member of Parliament and as Conservative Vice Chairman for Communities, I am profoundly aware of the need to do more to encourage communities from across the UK to engage; ensuring something as simple as being registered to vote is just one of many challenges. Very sad considering how hard so many fight, and die, elsewhere in the world for that basic right.

I am forever open to take the lead from you, my Constituents, about how Parliament can become more accessible. If you have any thoughts then please get in touch with me at helen.grant.mp@parliament.uk. No idea is too ambitious, and I will share the best suggestions with the Parliamentary authorities.

More information on how you can participate in Parliament week is available here: https://www.ukparliamentweek.org/about/. Please do take a look.

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Helen's column is published weekly in the Kent Messenger. Please note the print version may differ from the content here.


MP Helen Welcomes Boost to Train WIFI but Presses Southeastern Boss for Rail Improvements


Helen Grant MP held talks with Southeastern Managing Director David Statham this week in order to press for much needed improvements to Maidstone and the Weald's rail services and to raise once again the huge groundswell of concern in the County Town about delays to the introduction and possible withdrawal of vital services.

In a wide ranging meeting, Helen raised with Mr Statham a number of different concerns which had been brought to her attention by constituents. Most notably the need for improved Wi-Fi access across the Southeastern network and the continued desire for more flexible ticketing in order to make fares more reflective of modern working practices. She also pressed the case for urgent improvements to the timetables following the inconvenience caused by the unpopular adjustments earlier this year.

Pleasingly, Mr Statham explained that Wi-Fi has now been rolled out across all 392 of Southeastern's train units. He was also able to provide an update on a nationwide piece of work which has the aim of introducing fairer and more flexible fares. Furthermore, Mr Statham confirmed that a review of the timetable changes has taken place and that it is hoped that improvements will be introduced from next Spring.

The meeting also provided a crucial opportunity for Helen to again stress the importance of the smooth introduction of the Maidstone East City Service next year and of preserving the High Speed service from Maidstone West.

Speaking after the meeting Helen said, 'I was very pleased to learn more about the roll out of Wi-Fi across the network and I also understand that Southeastern are at an advanced stage of discussions to improve 'infotainment' on-board trains so I would advise constituents to watch this space!

I am further encouraged by plans to introduce greater flexibility of season tickets and to deliver improvements to the timetables, but I will be continuing to monitor these plans very closely to ensure they come to fruition as seamlessly and as quickly as possible.

I was pleased to have the opportunity to once again make the case for the smooth introduction of the City Thameslink service from Maidstone East and of the preservation of our peak time, high speed services from Maidstone West. Maidstone is the County Town of Kent and deserves the rail services to reflect that; taken together the preservation of the high speed and the introduction of the City service would be game changers for commuters and for our businesses here in Maidstone and I make no apology for continuing to vociferously and robustly make the case. I am in the final stages of arranging for a member of the Government to visit Maidstone in the coming week to engage with commuters and local businesses to allow us to keep up this campaign.'


09 NOV 2018

The first ever digital conference has been held in Maidstone in a bid to highlight the career opportunities in the sector to students and teachers

Around 200 students and teachers from across Kent have attended a one-day digital conference in Maidstone hosted by Reflect Digital. Aspiration Digital was held at Maidstone Girls Grammar School (MGGS) on Friday (2nd of November) in a bid to inspire and...


07 NOV 2018

Maidstone delivers superb #5000Poppies Remembrance Project; MP Helen Grant praises the superb efforts of local people

Helen Grant, MP for Maidstone & the Weald, visited Maidstone Museum last week to add her support to the #5000Poppies project, ahead of it's opening on 6th November. The #5000Poppies project enlisted the help of a multitude of Maidstone residents in creating...


03 NOV 2018

Coming Here, Being Here

'Coming Here, Being Here' was an exhibition sharing the 'relocation' experiences of some of Maidstone's Nepalese community, held at the Maidstone Museum. Local MP Helen Grant was welcomed to the exhibition by its hosts, Maidstone Women's Nepalese Society....



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With very best wishes

HELEN GRANT MP

Helen's column

08 NOV 2018

Parliament Week

For our democracy to thrive, our Parliament must be relevant, open and accessible, and UK Parliament Week is aimed squarely at achieving those goals. Parliament Week is a series of events designed to...


01 NOV 2018

Budget 2018

Amidst the rowdy rhetoric and political posturing on Budget Day this week, the challenge was in unpicking how the measures will affect our everyday lives here in Kent. On health funding, I very much...


25 OCT 2018

Press Freedom

President Trump's constant, hostile and irresponsible attacks on inconvenient 'Fake News' and attempts by Putin's Russia to disseminate misinformation through contrived social media accounts threaten...