Member of Parliament
MP for Faversham and Mid Kent
I work for you. If you have a problem you think I can help you with, please contact me or book an appointment at one of my surgeries
House of Commons,
London, SW1A 0AA
Tel: 020 7219 6472
Email: [email protected]
A message from your MP – Helen Whately
Welcome to my newsletter
People are asking who I’m backing to be the next leader of the Conservative Party and Prime Minister. As Deputy Chair of the Party I'm not publicly endorsing or campaigning for any candidate.
In the last few weeks dedicated Conservative councillors lost their seats at the local elections and the EU elections were really tough for us. People are using their votes to send a strong message that they want all the uncertainty to end as soon as possible. So whoever does take over from Theresa May must bring the country together and deliver Brexit so we can move on to tackle the other challenges this country is facing, like housing, social care and mental health.
While Brexit and the leadership race have been keeping me busy , I'm still getting on with my campaigns for improvements to Faversham and Headcorn train stations, a conservation site rather than an industrial solar farm on Graveney Marshes, Operation Brock and equal rights for working parents.
New footbridge is a step forward in campaign to renovate Faversham Station
It’s been closed for six months - a hassle for people living south of the railway who want to get into town - so I was delighted to re-open the Preston footbridge
Having been spruced up and strengthened, the bridge can now stay open during the hop festival and other town events.
We recently got new lifts at the station too, which has made life easier for disabled passengers. The restoration of the footbridge is a step forward in the campaign to return the station and surrounding area to its Victorian glory.
New dads need longer, better-paid parental leave
It was wonderful to see Prince Harry bursting with joy as he shared the birth of his son Archie with the nation. I hope he's been enjoying some time away from his royal duties so that he and Meghan can get to know their new baby.
For many new fathers, two weeks' statutory paternity leave just isn't long enough and only 2% of parents take advantage of shared parental leave. I asked the Prime Minister to introduce a stand-alone period of paid leave just for partners to help families share childcare more equally.
Between Brock and the hard shoulder
It's frustrating that there's still a steel barrier and a 50mph speed limit between Junction 8 and 9 of the M20. These would be gone by now if we'd left the EU on time with a deal. But with the ongoing uncertainty, Highways England need to be able to deploy Operation Brock at short notice (read more here). One more reason why we need to get on with Brexit!
Keeping freight moving seamlessly across the border is vital for the UK economy, so Kent's roads must be a national priority. Operation Brock is better than closing the M20 completely with Operation Stack, but it's still not perfect. Highways England are working on two options for a long-term alternative: one is to completely replace the hard shoulder of the M20 so that it can be safely used to queue lorries without a steel barrier, and another is for a lorry park. I know people are worried about some of the surveys that have been going on at Lenham Heath, but I am assured that they're looking at multiple sites and have not chosen one yet. I'll keep pushing ministers for clear answers on this.
We need a proper, long-term solution to Stack to keep our roads moving whatever the situation at the ports. That means not just a place for queuing lorries but also investment in the M2/A2 and Brenley Corner. And an end to lorry fly-parking!
Graveney Marshes hould be a haven for wildlife, not a huge solar power station
A solar power station the size of Faversham would destroy Graveney Marshes and drive away rare birds and wildlife. I met the Environment Secretary Michael Gove to make the case that this is the wrong place for such a huge industrial development.
Renewable energy is vital for a green future - and solar power is already a great success, with capacity to power 3 million UK homes. But this proposal is just too big. The official planning process has now started and I attended a packed meeting in Faversham to make my objections clear.
The Energy Secretary will make the final decision on whether the solar park can go ahead, and he'll be weighing the benefits of the proposal against the negative impact it will have on the community, the environment and wildlife. We need to send the message – loud and clear – that this enormous solar power station will do more harm than good.
Minister must explain why Headcorn station did not get funding for disabled access
Headcorn is a busy station and there's lots of people calling for it to have disabled access. Unfortunately the bid for a share of the £300 million Access for All fund, which many of you supported, was not successful. I want to know why.
I’ve written to the Transport Minister to demand an explanation, and I’ve asked what we can do to make sure Headcorn is included in the next round of funding. Disabled passengers shouldn't have to go all the way to Ashford to reach a station with a lift.
Local aerospace business is flying high
MEP is an inspirational local business that manufactures parts for the aerospace and defence industries. Business minister Andrew Stephenson chose it as the location to announce £10 million of Government funding for small and medium-sized businesses in this sector. I was pleased to join him and learn about MEP's work. British companies like MEP have unrivalled expertise and their services are in demand around the world - investing in aerospace is good for our national security and good for the economy too.
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