Reporting back from Dartford and Westminster - now reaching over 5,000 people in the local area
Dartford Valley Rugby Club
It was a privilege to visit Dartford Valley Rugby Club which is located in Cotton Lane and is Dartford's only rugby club.
I met with the Chairman, Peter Timon, to hear how the club is doing in its new premises and to hear about its Community Space Project. The club's motto is simply 'More than just the Rugby!!' and that means involving everyone and making everyone feel safe and welcome at the club's new home.
The club is crowdfunding to raise money for this new and exciting project, but more importantly to show there is significant community support as this unlocks access to large corporate and county funding.
The funding goal of the project is £84,086 and pledges are only taken if this amount is raised by 30th June.
This club is a great community asset in Dartford and has gone from strength-to-strength. It would be fantastic to see it achieve its goal to create this community space.
If you would like to look at the club's plans and contribute, please click on the link below to go to its crowdfunding site. No amount is too small as showing how much support the project has in the community is key.
Dartford Valley Rugby Community Space Project<[link removed]>
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It will be five years in August since the murder of George Low and the attempted murder of Ben Barker in Ayia Napa in Cyprus.
Despite numerous promising developments, his killers have still not been brought to justice.
I regularly speak with the families of George Low and Ben Barker and we had a meeting recently with the Foreign Office and Kent Police to discuss how we can secure justice for George Low. I also met with Ministers in the Foreign Office separately to ensure that his case remains a priority. Neither the families of George and Ben, or myself, will rest until his killers are brought to justice.
I was recently invited to visit DiaSorin in Dartford which is a global manufacturer of in vitro diagnostic (IVD) tests.
Dartford is home to DiaSorin’s commercial and manufacturing team for the UK and Ireland. It has a workforce of over 100 people and produces around 40 million tests each year. Since 2016, the facility has benefited from £18m of inward investment and is a candidate among other global sites for further strategic local and targeted investments.
Diagnosis is, in fact, the first step to become aware of a person’s state of health and the precision and reliability of tests allows the early diagnosis of different diseases for millions of people, who will be able to undertake the appropriate clinical pathway.
In addition, DiaSorin has been supporting the fight against Covid-19, developing and supplying NHS hospitals with fully-CE marked Covid-19 antibody and antigen tests, and is contributing to surveillance studies led by Public Health England.
Roadmap out of lockdown
We are now on Step 3 of the Government's Roadmap out of lockdown with more facilities and businesses open including cinemas and indoor sports facilities.
The vaccination programme continues at pace, with over 60 million jabs administered.
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Realising the potential of Blue Lake, Ebbsfleet
Ebbsfleet Development Corporation is working on a draft vision for the Blue Lake area on Thames Way.
Its aim is to open up access to Blue Lake, creating an exciting new lakeside neighbourhood. This will bring together new housing, leisure and recreation facilities and would be adjacent to the Ebbsfleet Central development, which is planned to be the ‘mixed-use’ heart of the Garden City.
Ebbsfleet Development Corporation is engaging with local residents, businesses and community groups about the draft Concept Plan and has been circulating a leaflet to those closest to the area.
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Scope of the Unduly Lenient Sentences Scheme
This is an issue I have campaigned on for many years and I was pleased to secure a debate on it in the House of Commons yesterday.
The Unduly Lenient Sentences Scheme has been in existence since 1989 and came about partly because of the Ealing Vicarage case where the offence of rape was treated less seriously than the offence of burglary.
This Scheme was extended in 2017, 2018 and 2019 and has seen sentences increased for many victims. The scales of justice are levelling up but are not there yet.
During the debate, I highlighted the harrowing case of Dartford resident, Gemma Robinson, who was viciously attacked in 2019 by her partner, Joseph Falconer. She took her own life before his trial and the defendant was offered a less serious charge of malicious wounding and was sentenced to three and a half years in prison. Malicious wounding was not within the scope of the Unduly Lenient Sentences Scheme and therefore Gemma's family were unable to appeal.
If you would like to see my contribution to the debate, please click on the photo above to play the video.
The Queen's Green Canopy
The Queen’s Green Canopy (QGC) is a unique tree planting initiative created to mark Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee in 2022 which invites people from across the United Kingdom to “Plant a Tree for the Jubilee.”
Everyone from individuals to Scout and Girlguiding groups, villages, cities, counties, schools and corporates will be encouraged to play their part to enhance our environment by planting trees from October, when the tree planting season begins, through to the end of the Jubilee year in 2022.
With a focus on planting sustainably, the QGC will encourage planting of trees to create a legacy in honour of The Queen’s leadership of the Nation, which will benefit future generations.
As well as inviting the planting of new trees, The Queen’s Green Canopy will dedicate a network of 70 Ancient Woodlands across the United Kingdom and identify 70 Ancient Trees to celebrate Her Majesty’s 70 years of service.
All schools are encouraged to actively engage with the QGC. Schools may apply for free saplings through the Woodland Trust <[link removed]> from June 2021. These are available on a first come-first served basis. In addition to this, the QGC will make contact with as many state schools in the UK as possible to arrange free trees through our partner organisations.
More information can be found on The Queen's Green Canopy website below.
The Queen's Green Canopy<[link removed]>
The Queen's Speech
The State Opening of Parliament marks the formal start of the parliamentary year and the Queen's Speech sets out the Government's agenda for the new session. Below is a summary of what was included in the Queen's Speech:
* The Government's priority is to deliver a national recovery from the pandemic.
* Protecting the health of the nation, continuing the vaccination programme and providing additional funding to support the NHS. Proposals on social care reform will be brought forward.
* Building on the success of the vaccination programme to lead the world in life sciences.
* Fastest ever increase in public funding for research and development and legislation to establish an advanced research agency.
* Proposals will be brought forward to create and support jobs and improve regulation.
* Strengthen the economic ties across the union.
* Legislation will support a lifetime skills guarantee to enable flexible access to high quality education and training throughout people’s lives.
* Measures to ensure that support for businesses reflects the UK's strategic interests and drives economic growth. Laws will simplify procurement in the public sector. Eight new Freeports will create hubs for trade and help regenerate communities.
* The Government will ensure the public finances are returned to a sustainable path.
* Measures to ensure that children have the best start in life, prioritising their early years. Ministers will address lost learning during the pandemic and ensure every child has a high quality education and is able to fulfil their potential.
* Helping more people to own their own home whilst enhancing the rights of those who rent. Laws to modernise the planning system, along with measures to stop ground rents for new leasehold properties. A new Building Safety Regulator will be established.
* Addressing racial and ethnic disparities and banning conversion therapy.
* Supporting the voluntary sector.
* Investing in new green industries to create jobs and ensuring the UK has, and promotes, the highest standards of animal welfare.
* Ensuring the integrity of elections and restoring the balance of power between the executive, legislature and the courts.
* Strengthening devolved Government in Northern Ireland.
* Increasing sentences for the most serious and violent offenders. Establishing a fairer immigration system.
* Ensuring internet safety for all.
* Biggest spending increase in thirty years for the Armed Services.
* Legislation to counter hostile activity by foreign states and the Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy will be implemented.
* UK to host the G7 summit. Trade ties in the Gulf, Africa and the Indo-Pacific will be deepened.
* Aid will continue to be provided.
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