11/10/18: Confronting the Far Right

News that there is to be a 'far right' inspired march in London this weekend, conjured memories of similar extremists rearing their ugly heads on our doorstep here in Maidstone and the Weald.

Thankfully, when the low-life bigots under the hate-filled 'Britain First' banner paid an unwelcome visit to protest against the expansion of our wonderfully inclusive mosque last year; they were met with a Maidstone community united in their opposition. Our people came together to defy islamophobia and promote diversity and I am confident that this weekend's poisonous march will be met with similar resolute rejection.

The indomitable fortitude of the British people, and in particular, might I add, the people of Maidstone, to rail against such hatred and embrace our diversity is a constant inspiration. However, we must never take this collective tolerance for granted. The diversity of our nation is one of the things which makes us great and we have a responsibility to protect it.

The Government, rightly, are treating this issue with the upmost seriousness. They will not tolerate any groups that spread hate by demonising those of other faiths or ethnicities, and have taken steps to root out such odious organisations. Our Local Authorities are also countering the offensive by playing their part in celebrating our diverse heritage. KCC are marking this year's Black History Month by commemorating and raising awareness of the positive role of African and Caribbean men in the First World War. You can find out more about their work here.

Perhaps above all else, however, this is a matter which Government simply does not have the power or scope to address alone. We all have a part to play in calling out and confronting racism, bigotry and hatred wherever we see it. For the sake of our hard-won and much valued open, tolerant and diverse nation; it is vital that we do.

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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.'


19 SEP 2018

Helen Welcomes Stroke Service Proposals

Commenting on the announcement of Maidstone Hospital as a Preferred option for new stroke services in Kent, Helen Grant MP for Maidstone and the Weald said: 'I am delighted that Maidstone Hospital has been selected as a preferred option for one of Kent's...


11 SEP 2018

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...


04 SEP 2018

‘It is OK not to be OK’ is the message from Inspirational Project #Walk2Talk

An inspirational group of young people from Cranbrook have completed a mammoth 200km trek carrying the important message that it is important to talk about mental health and well-being. The walk supported the Sam West Foundation – a Kent based charity...



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With very best wishes

HELEN GRANT MP

Helen's column

11 OCT 2018

Confronting the Far Right

News that there is to be a 'far right' inspired march in London this weekend, conjured memories of similar extremists rearing their ugly heads on our doorstep here in Maidstone and the...


04 OCT 2018

Conservative Party Conference 2018

The BBC's Assistant Political Editor Norman Smith was wearing a construction worker's hard hat as he delivered his morning bulletin from the Conservative conference on Monday this week. He explained...


27 SEP 2018

Salzburg rebuttal is no big deal

The Salzburg rebuttal of the PM's Brexit proposals last week certainly gave the media and politicos something to feed on, buoyed up by staged rhetoric at the Party conferences. For me, this was just...