14-09-17 – EU (Withdrawal) Bill/Myanmar

My attentions this week are divided between home and away;

Here in the UK we move toward Brexit with much progress on The European Union (Withdrawal) Bill. The Rule of Law is pervasive in modern Western life; It sets the legal parameters by which the shops in Week Street do business, how our farmers in the Weald grow and sell produce, how we behave on our busy roads in and around Maidstone each day.

As we prepare to repatriate the sovereign right to make our own law, we must make provision for all those laws that were created whilst we were members of the EU and that is why, this week, MPs have been sitting into the early hours to debate the issues involved.

The bill will repeal the 1972 European Communities Act which took us into the EU and, in doing so, copy all existing EU legislation created since that time into UK law. This effectively provides continuity and avoids a legal 'cliff-edge' on Friday 29th March 2019, the day after we leave the EU.

Whilst many laws and regulations will be incorporated into UK Statute with little or no amendment there will be some that will not fit so easily, and this has created controversy; How much power should the Government have to tweak as it sees fit? Doubtless the House will do what is needed to ensure adequate checks and balances are put in place as the bill progresses and I will be following the debate closely.

On the away front; my concerns are for a population twice the size of Maidstone Borough, who've fled their homes in Myanmar (Burma). The military are reportedly burning villages and attacking civilians on the basis that they are illegal Muslim immigrants. Political leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Siu Chi, a Buddhist, is being horribly silent. She, nor we, can ignore this atrocity.

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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.


Local MP Helen Grant meets Rocky Hill residents

Following an electrical fire that occurred at Rocky Hill Terrace in London Road, Maidstone, on May 24th Fire Officers have recommended safety improvements to the building. This will require all 38 residents in 36 flats to be relocated. The residents are a group of older people some of whom have additional mobility and health issues.

Helen Grant MP was contacted by Simon Clark, Group Director – Housing, Sanctuary Group, which owns the property, to make her aware of the situation.

Helen said 'The safety of these residents is paramount and it does seem that the improvements needed to the structural compartmentation of the building will require the property to be vacated. I am very mindful of the distress experienced by so many being relocated following the fall-out of the Grenfell Tower disaster; my immediate concerns were therefore about how the need for relocation would be explained and then carried out. Clearly this will be a very sensitive time for the people affected and many have lived there for a long period of time'.

'I visited residents on Friday with Mr Clarke to speak with them myself, to ensure they received substantive answers to their questions and to act on their behalf in holding the landlords to account.

Initially I did share residents' suspicions that the works may be a convenient excuse to gain vacant possession of the building prior to redevelopment into more valuable units.

Having had the meeting I feel more reassured that there isn't an underlying ulterior motive like that and that the reasons for relocation are genuine.

I am also satisfied that Sanctuary are managing this process in a caring and sensitive manner. Sensibly they have not put an immediate timescale on the process as they do not want to add that kind of pressure to the residents. Their focus is upon moving each and every individual to a home that suits them and one that they are happy with'.

Simon Clark said 'We have been talking to residents and their families in one to one meetings throughout this week. We have a dedicated a team of senior and experienced housing staff taking them through the process sensitively and carefully.

'In addition to providing the residents with an on-site Liaison Officer, we are speaking to relevant statutory agencies and appropriate local charities about whether there is further support that can be given'.

'All residents will have a choice about their accommodation. The alternative properties identified so far are of good quality, desirable and nearby their existing homes. However, if any of the residents would like to view other homes we will, of course, oblige.'

Mrs Grant will continuing monitoring the issue until all residents are re-housed appropriately.


14 SEP 2017

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HELEN GRANT MP

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