Helen Grant MP welcomes Comprehensive Spending Review

Kent is clearly on the Chancellor's radar

Maidstone & The Weald MP Helen Grant has welcomed the Chancellor's Comprehensive Spending Review.

Up to £250 million was pledged to relieve the pressures caused by Operation Stack. The money will support the development and construction of an off-road lorry parking, close to the M20 in east Kent. Once complete, it will relieve pressure on the M20 when Operation Stack is in place, helping people and businesses get around more easily.

In addition to this there is a new National Potholes Fund which will benefit from £250 million. This will help to fill over 4.5 million potholes with total road maintenance funding equivalent to filling 20 million potholes a year.

The devastating floods of 2013 and their effect are still being felt years on which is why Mrs Grant welcomed the announcements of flood protection for 56,500 households. The Chancellor has committed to investing around £438 million on 243 flood defence schemes in the South East by 2021 better protecting around 56,500 homes.

A number of schools in Maidstone & the Weald have already benefited from the Priority Schools Building Programme. It was announced today that the rebuilding or refurbishing of 103 schools in the worst condition will continue. 39 free schools have already opened in the South East since 2010 and another 13 are already approved to open this parliament.

North Kent will also benefit from a new North Kent Innovation Zone, which will encourage enterprise and productivity and create further jobs for the local community. Mrs Grant wrote in advance of the announcement to her colleague the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Greg Clarke MP to support the bid and was delighted at it's success.

Commenting on the various measures announced today, Helen said: "There is much to be pleased about in this review for the people of Maidstone & The Weald and for the County of Kent generally; an agreement to fix a new pupil based formula for Fairer School funding, a firm and funded commitment toward fixing Operation Stack, a £250 million National Potholes Fund, better flood protection through new defence schemes, rebuilding and refurbishing our schools and more".

"This Autumn Statement delivers on the promise my Party made to the people of Maidstone & The Weald during the election, that we would put their security first; Protecting our economic security by taking the difficult decisions to live within our means and bring our debts down; protecting our national security by defending our country's interests abroad and keeping our citizens safe at home."

Kent Messenger Column - 20-11-15 - The Paris Aftermath

The Paris attacks last Friday were a step-change moment for the global community and have affected virtually everyone I have spoken with. The civilian security debate has also shifted to a new plane in both the West and the East, and at the highest level. Obama and Putin so genuinely engaging over a coffee table at the Turkey G20 summit spoke volumes. It was a strange but comforting sight.

What is our country doing to protect its citizens? The government has already announced provision for an additional 1900 officers (+15%) in our intelligence services to spot and combat terrorism before atrocities are committed.

Responding to the recent Sharm el-Sheik aircraft bombing the Government is also doubling funding for aviation security over this Parliament.

And the Home Office's 'Prevent' strategy http://bit.ly/1MRLjnH is also in place to help avoid British residents becoming radicalised by extremists within our own shores.

Here in Kent there is a heightened level of alert within the official controls at our Kent ports and the channel tunnel.

Going forward I think new inroads could be made if regular two-way communication can be sustained between the police service and the communities where radicalisation is taking place, and not just with their leaders. If trust can be built between officers and younger people, mothers and wise older people, helpful dialogue would inevitably follow and warning signs revealed.

And we, as individuals, also need to raise our game. We need to be more alert to the unusual and the suspicious and be prepared to report matters of national security to the MI5 Government security service www.mi5.gov.uk.

I heard a report of one French lady receiving a direct warning of an imminent attack in Paris but unfortunately dismissed it as a nasty rumour. She only went to the police after Friday's carnage had been wrought. Hopefully we can all learn from that.


Helen's weekly column is published every Friday in the Kent Messenger.  The content shown here may differ slightly from the press version.

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