MP for Dartford
Reporting back from Dartford and Westminster - now reaching over 5,000 people in the local area
ULEZ and Greater London Boundary Tax
On 25th October, the Ultra Low Emission Zone was extended to a wider area of Greater London. It means that people with a vehicle which does not meet the ULEZ emissions standards have to pay a daily fee of £12.50 if they enter the zone.
Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Woolwich and University Hospital Lewisham in South East London, both sit just inside the new boundary of the ULEZ.
As a result, Darent Valley Hospital will experience extra pressure from people in South London who are trying to avoid these road charges put in place by the London Mayor. This will have serious consequences for the residents of Dartford as people who live in neighbouring towns will choose to use Darent Valley Hospital because they don't want to, or can't afford to pay £12.50 just to go to their nearest hospital. This will inevitably cause more pressure on hospital services.
I am also vehemently opposed to the London Mayor's proposal for a Greater London Boundary Tax which would charge all vehicles registered outside of London a fee of up to £5.50 per day if they crossed into London. I have raised the issue a number of times including in Transport Questions. I also secured a debate on the matter which was attended by many MPs whose constituencies would also be affected by such a charge.
In April, I highlighted the issue again with my Ten Minute Rule Bill and in the Summer I presented a petition from my constituents who will be drastically impacted if this charge comes into force.
I have recently signed a joint letter to the Mayor of London from MPs, Greater London Assembly Members and Councillors which can be found below.
Sadiq Khan needs to drop this very divisive idea and I will continue to campaign, along with my many colleagues, on this issue.
Presenting my Ten Minute Rule Bill - Road User Charging (Outer London) on 13th April 2021
You may remember the horrific case of PC Andrew Harper who was killed in the line of duty in 2019. PC Harper was dragged behind a vehicle for more than a mile along country lanes in Berkshire, after he and a colleague responded to reports of a quad bike theft. The three perpetrators were convicted of manslaughter and received sentences of between 13 and 19 years in prison. An appeal by the Attorney General to increase their time behind bars was rejected.
Since his death, his widow Lissie and other members of PC Harper's family, together with Thames Valley Police Federation and other Police Federations across the country, have campaigned tirelessly for a change to the law. As a result, ministers are determined to make sure that punishments fit the severity of the crime and will be introducing Harper's Law as soon as possible. I was pleased to support this change in policy.
Harper's Law will extend mandatory life sentences to anyone who commits the manslaughter of an emergency worker who is exercising their duty as such a worker. The sentence will apply to 16 and 17 year-olds as well as adult offenders and will apply to England and Wales.
This measure reflects the vital role of our emergency workers in protecting us all and it recognises the risks they take every day to keep us safe.
Operation Pitting was commanded from the UK’s Permanent Joint Headquarters in Northwood and was the name for military support to the evacuation of British Nationals and former British staff eligible for relocation under the Afghan Relocation and Assistance Policy (ARAP). It began on 14th August 2021 and between the start of the operation and the final flight on 28th August 2021, in excess of 15,000 people were flown out of Kabul by the RAF as part of an overall evacuation of over 122,000.
On 24th November, 120 soldiers involved in Operation Pitting marched into Parliament accompanied by the band of the RAF Regiment.
This was a fantastic opportunity for the Prime Minister to thank those involved in the withdrawal effort.
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In May, HMS Queen Elizabeth and the UK Carrier Strike Group set sail. It was the maiden operational deployment for the £3bn warship which led a group of six navy ships, 14 helicopters, a company of Royal Marines and a submarine armed with Tomahawk cruise missiles.
The deployment's objectives were to enhance partnerships and conduct multi-lateral naval exercises and visits to many nations. It has acted as a reminder that the Royal Navy is back in the carrier game and post-Brexit Britain is interested in renewed trade partnerships in what is now the most dynamic region of the world. It has also sent a signal to potential adversaries that, in coalition with allies, the UK is willing to uphold international law. For the MoD, it has been a chance to prove the carrier, its escorts, aircraft and supporting logistic chain can deploy over long ranges and operate in diverse environments.
For a reminder of the planned route of the UK Carrier Strike Group, please see the map below. To watch some of the highlights of what has been the largest, most complex, maritime deployment in a generation, please click on the photo above.
Ebbsfleet Green Primary School
Ebbsfleet Green Primary School in the Garden City is Dartford's newest primary school and opened in 2020. Now in its second year of opening, it has a nursery class, reception class, year 1 and a blended year 2/3 class. It will grow as the Garden City grows and will eventually become a two-form entry school.
It was a pleasure to be shown round by the Head of School, Kelly Garrett, and see the excellent facilities and meet the children. As is often the case, the children were full of questions for me. They had also written letters to me about all sorts of things, from what is my favourite colour, to questions about what my job involves.
Dartford Fire Station
I visited Dartford Fire Station earlier this month to discuss with the firefighters the work they are doing in the run up to Christmas and to thank them for their service.
During the visit they talked about the collaboration that exists with the other emergency services and also the cross-border cooperation they have with fire stations in South London. They also explained that in the last 10-15 years more of their role now centres around the prevention of fires.
The local area poses a diverse range of challenges for our fire service with major roads such as the M25, M20 and A2, large facilities such as Bluewater and Ebbsfleet International, as well as rural and urban areas to cover.
New temporary and precautionary measures have been passed by Parliament, following the emergence of the Omicron variant in the UK.
Urgent work is ongoing to fully understand how the mutations of the Omicron variant may change the behaviour of the virus with regards to vaccines, treatments, transmissibility and number of hospitalisations. However, vaccines remain our best line of defence and experts remain confident that our current vaccines will provide protection against the new variant, but the extent of this continues to be investigated.
Over 28 million people have already come forward for their booster jabs. All adults who have not yet received their first or second dose of the vaccine, or those who are eligible for their booster are encouraged to come forward to help protect themselves and others. One million people a day are now receiving their booster jab.
The measures introduced are as follows:
* Face coverings compulsory in shops, public transport and large venues such as theatres and cinemas.
* You are advised to work from home if you can.
* A negative lateral flow test needs to be shown to enter some venues such as nightclubs or proof of double vaccination if you prefer.
* Self-isolation is no longer required for those exposed to the Omicron variant; testing is required instead.
* Anyone aged 12+ travelling to the UK will need to show a negative PCR or Lateral Flow pre-departure test, taken no earlier than 48 hours before departure.
* All international arrivals to take a Day 2 PCR test and self-isolate until they receive a negative test.
* Measures are precautionary and will be reviewed.
'Boost Day' on 3rd December, marked the one-year anniversary of the UK becoming the first country in the world to approve Pfizer's Covid vaccine.
It will probably be many years before we truly know how many lives the vaccines have saved, not only in Dartford but around the world. Our vaccine programme has been a genuine success story and we owe thanks to everyone involved in the vaccination scheme in Dartford.
Everyone eligible aged 18 and over in England will have the chance to get their booster before the New Year.
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Lower Thames Crossing Community Update
This edition provides an update on plans to reduce the carbon footprint of the Lower Thames Crossing, the first group of apprentices who have been recruited from the local area, and the first 500 businesses who have signed up to the Lower Thames Crossing SME directory.
Dartford's stations saw massive reductions in passengers during 2020/21
The number of people using Dartford's train stations shrunk to unprecedented levels during the pandemic year of 2020/21,
Dartford saw its usage drop by 68% compared to the previous year and Longfield saw just a fifth of the passenger numbers compared to 2019/20.
For a commuter town, these figures at our local stations really highlight just how much our lives have changed since the beginning of the pandemic.
Officers from Kent Police's County Lines and Gangs Team arrested over 40 people in November.
Public Consultation on Ebbsfleet Central East
In preparation for the submission of an outline planning application in Spring 2022, Ebbsfleet Development Corporation is holding a public consultation to discuss the proposals for Ebbsfleet Central East and gain the views of local communities.
The consultation runs until 14th January and you can access it by clicking on the button below.
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Lastly, I would like to wish everyone a Happy Christmas! Whilst we are still dealing with the pandemic, we have at least had a more normal year and can look forward to a better Christmas than last year.
We have the protection afforded to us by the vaccines and new treatment options are becoming available. Let's hope we will soon be back to pre-Covid normality.
[Gareth Johnson MP website]<[link removed]>
Gareth Johnson MP
House of Commons
London SW1A 0AA
Tel: 0207 219 7047
email: [email protected]
Copyright © 2021, Gareth Johnson MP, All rights reserved.
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