Reporting back from Dartford and Westminster - now reaching over 5,000 people in the local area
25th February 2020
Welcome to my latest newsletter.
Ten Minute Rule Bill
I am introducing a Ten Minute Rule Bill aimed at giving judges the power to ban disruptive passengers from flying on all airlines for a specific period of time, following a court conviction.
The Aviation Banning Orders (Disruptive Passengers) Ten Minute Rule Bill will be debated in the House of Commons on 10th March.
Over the past few years the number of disruptive passengers has been steadily rising. In 2018, just six airlines, reported over 4,000 incidents, which was 9% more than the previous year.
The Bill aims to deter people from disrupting flights and making passengers feel unsafe. Passengers who assault or threaten cabin staff should risk being banned from flying for a period of time. The law should be changed to give courts the power to impose bans on the most disruptive passengers from flying on any commercial airline for a period of time.
Currently an individual airline can ban a person from flying on its planes but this does not stop that person travelling on another airline.
We can ban people from driving when criminal offences are committed or ban people from attending football matches when they are violent but we are not able to ban people from flying when they are violent or endanger the safety of the plane. This needs to change.
Visit to Manor Community Primary School
It was a pleasure to visit Manor Community Primary School and meet with the School Council for a question and answer session, followed by a tour of the school.
The School Council is comprised of 27 children from years 2-6. It is currently looking at ways it can improve the school and local community. The children had some excellent questions for me including "Who inspired you to become an MP?" and "How do you think Brexit will change our lives?"
During my tour of the school, I was able to see some of the children having one-on-one support in Mathematics via an audio link in a specialist classroom.
Manor Community Primary School has two Heads of School and is part of the Cygnus Academies Trust. It is a large primary school with three forms of entry per year and was rated as 'good' by Ofsted at its most recent inspection.
I was delighted to be able to congratulate the school recently on its 2019 Key Stage 2 results which showed an increase from the previous year in the proportion of pupils achieving the expected standard in reading, writing and mathematics.
Stone Lodge School
Stone Lodge School is Dartford's newest secondary school and it opened in September 2019.
The school, just off Cotton Lane, has 120 pupils this year for its first intake of Year 7 students and it will grow to its full size, year on year.
I recently visited the school and met with Head Teacher, Gavin Barnett. He showed me around the purpose-built temporary building, which will house the school for the next few years until the new school is built.
It was fantastic to hear about the future plans for this school which is much needed in our expanding community.
I also had the chance to meet with some of the students who asked me a variety of questions about my job as the local MP and showed me some of the work they have been doing over the last few months.
550th anniversary of birth of Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji
Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji is the founder of Sikhism and the first Guru of the Sikhs and I visited an exhibition in Dartford Library celebrating his life. This ten-day exhibition at the Sir Peter Blake Gallery marked the 550th anniversary of his birth.
It was great to see this unique space in our town being used for such an interesting and thought-provoking exhibition and I hope to see many more exhibits there in the future.
Last Summer, I met with Ram Thapa, Director of Home Instead Senior Care, who had just opened a branch in Swanscombe. Mr Thapa is organising monthly free Dementia Friends Information Sessions which are open to anyone and details can be found above.
UK transition to zero-emission vehicles
You may have seen that the Prime Minister recently announced plans to bring forward an end to the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans to 2035. This is subject to consultation and will include hybrids for the first time.
This was a Manifesto promise which will help tackle air pollution and provide an economic opportunity worth over £1.5 trillion a year. There is already extraordinary market growth in this area with an increase of 144% in the sale of battery electric models in 2019 compared to 2018. With 20 new models of electric vehicle being released to the market, it is likely 2020 will see another year of strong growth.
There is a £1.5 billion investment package to support the transition and the UK now has one of the largest charging networks in Europe with more locations where you can charge your car than there are petrol stations.
Over the next few months, the Government will be working with partners in the automotive, charge point infrastructure and energy sectors to identify current barriers and the measures required to create an environment that encourages the mass uptake of zero-emission vehicles.
Preview of new £20 note
I recently joined the Bank of England's Chief Cashier, Sarah John, in Parliament, for a preview of the new £20 note, the Bank's most secure note yet which has now been released into circulation.
Bank of England staff talked through the new security features incorporated in the note which make it very difficult to counterfeit. On the front, the see-through window contains a two colour foil in gold and blue, celebrating Margate where Turner drew inspiration for over 100 of his paintings.
The note has two see-through windows and various foil patches and a hologram which changes from the word "Twenty" to "Pounds" when the note is tilted.
I would encourage local businesses and anyone who regularly handles cash to take a look at the Bank of England's website to find out how to check these new banknotes.
Each month I like to feature a local business, large or small and this month's is Lollipop Events and Lollipops Preschool, based in The Orchards Shopping Centre.
Lollipop Events has been organising private parties, corporate and public events since 2002. The company has been based in Dartford since 2005 and employs 12 staff.
In addition to events, the company also has a preschool which is based at The Orchards and is registered for 35 children at each session. There are two sessions per day – one morning and one afternoon and children from two years old are welcome. The Pre-school employs 16 staff and has a large soft play area, together with an event space.
I was delighted to visit Lollipop Events and Lollipops Preschool recently and meet the staff and children. The children had been learning about Parliament and the role of an MP and they had some interesting questions for me including “Does the Queen drive a bus like in Peppa Pig?” and “Can you hear Big Ben in Parliament?”
Lollipops is rated ‘good’ by Ofsted and has availability for children from two to four years old.
If you would like to find out more about Lollipop Events and Lollipops Preschool, please click on the links below.
Lollipop Events Ltd<[link removed]>
Lollipops Preschool<[link removed]>
Following a debate in Westminster Hall (reported in my last bulletin), I met with representatives from HS1 at Ebbsfleet Train Station.
During this meeting I was told the service is running close to capacity with its current rolling stock and there is a need for more trains and carriages to be built in order to ease overcrowding.
As it takes up to four years to deliver new trains, this is something that needs to be planned for now in order to ensure the service is fit for our future needs.
During my visit, I was pleased to hear that Eurostar services to Amsterdam have now begun, with passengers able to travel direct from Ebbsfleet.
In Dartford, HS1 is an asset for our community and I will be contacting the Rail Minister in the coming weeks to ensure the issues surrounding this service remain a high priority for the Government.
Heat Heroes Award Scheme
The Heat Heroes Award Scheme aims to recognise individuals who have made a significant contribution to helping people living in fuel poverty in their local community.
Fourteen winners from England and Wales were chosen and Sandra Woodfall from Dartford Borough Council was named as one of them.
Sandra is Environmental Promotions Officer and has been working on fuel poverty, health and housing initiatives for 30 years. She is a keen partner of the Kent Energy Deal, securing savings for Dartford residents of £191,217.99 through the Collective Energy Switching Scheme.
Sandra also developed and presented Community Pharmacist Training in recognition of the fact that pharmacists could play an important role in spreading the message of help that is available with heating, insulation and disabled adaptations to vulnerable customers, enabling them to live well and independently in their own homes.
Many congratulations to Sandra on her award.
World Cancer Day
To mark World Cancer Day, I attended a drop-in meeting in Westminster.
Cancer diagnosis is at the heart of the new long term NHS plan. Over the next ten years cancer screening and diagnosis will be overhauled with the aim of detecting 75 per cent of cancers in the early stages, compared to around 50 per cent today.
It is thought around 40% of cancer cases in England could be prevented by changes in lifestyle.
Screening for cancers is also key to diagnosing it earlier. In our area, just over half the people, aged 60-74 and eligible for bowel screening, take it up.
Prevention and diagnosis are key factors in improving survival rates for cancer and I was very pleased to take part in this initiative to mark World Cancer Day.
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