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 - 27-11-15 - Syria

In August 2013 Parliament voted 'no' to military intervention in Syria. The motion on that occasion was specifically about preventing the Assad regime from continuing to use chemical weapons against its own people. It did not allow action for any other purpose and was not related to ISIL.

I supported that motion but I've always felt that an argument for wider UK military action in Syria would need to be exceptionally persuasive if it were to win my support. Parliamentarians now find themselves faced with that very issue.

I considered the 'no further military action' alternative. It is abundantly clear, however, that these extremists will stop and nothing to try to kill and maim us, and our neighbours. To do nothing to prevent them from attacking us is not an option for me.

I reflect on the Tunisian beach massacre, Charlie Hebdo, the Sharm el-Sheikh airliner bombing, the multiple Paris attacks. I accept that none of these atrocities took place within our shores but last week we learned that our security services have foiled no less than seven homeland terrorist plots in the last year, one within the past month.

The demeanour of our leadership is critical in this. The PM is a measured and compassionate man. He is neither 'hawk' nor 'dove' and the aftermath of the Iraq conflict remains fresh in his mind. For David Cameron to be so clear, about the need for us to act, speaks reams. He and his advisers will know so much about the threats we face, and that puts him in a unique position to judge our country's position.

A vote is likely within the coming few days and I will carefully consider the motion when it is laid before Parliament. What I do know is that my heart and mind agree; we cannot stand-by and watch this mindless and evil slaughter continue.


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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