From JOHNSON, Gareth <[email protected]>
Subject Schools, Scams and Doughnuts
Date November 30, 2022 4:07 PM
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Gareth Johnson
MP for Dartford

Reporting back from Dartford and Westminster - now reaching over 5,000 people in the local area

November 2022

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Lower Thames Crossing

Since the new Secretary of State for Transport, Mark Harper, was appointed, I have met with him twice to impress upon him the importance of the Lower Thames Crossing, which will help alleviate the daily traffic problems at Dartford. I also asked him about it during Transport Questions.

As we are all well aware, plans for the Lower Thames Crossing have been years in the making and it is urgently needed to help the traffic congestion in Dartford.

I know the Government is looking to tackle the country’s debt, but we must continue with this project. I have also met with Treasury Ministers to let them know the importance of the new crossing and I have further meetings soon.

In addition, I have sent a letter to both the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Secretary of State for Transport, signed by 16 MPs, calling for the project to go ahead.

The traffic at the Dartford Crossing causes misery for our town every day and the crossing has been running over capacity for years. Just a few days ago, a broken-down lorry at the Dartford Crossing caused gridlock in our area; that is why the Lower Thames Crossing is so essential.

Not only will Dartford benefit from the Lower Thames Crossing but so will the whole of the UK and work to start building it can’t start soon enough.

A Development Consent Order for the new crossing was submitted to the Planning Inspectorate on 31st October. On 28th November the Planning Inspectorate confirmed the application had been accepted for examination. The project now moves to the next stage of the planning process.

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Transport Questions

I recently asked the Secretary of State for Transport about the Lower Thames Crossing during Transport Questions. To play the video, please click on the photo above.

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Just Stop Oil

At PMQ's recently, I asked the Prime Minister to consider making Just Stop Oil a proscribed organisation. To play the video of my question, please click on the photo above. Apologies for the loss of my voice!

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The London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, has announced the Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ), will expand to the border of Dartford from 23rd August 2023.

The people of Dartford have been clear they do not want the ULEZ and I have consistently spoken out against such plans.

The Mayor's plan will cost people in Dartford up to £12.50 a day, seven days a week, just to cross over the border with London, creating a financial wall between neighbours, families and friends.

It will tax hardworking people despite the fact we have no control over the Mayor of London. Dartfordians also will not qualify for the scrappage scheme available to Londoners.

There is little evidence it will improve air quality in Outer London. It is a scheme designed to tax the poorest going about their daily lives.

I have continued to highlight this issue over the years since it was first proposed by the Mayor of London as the Outer London congestion charge, starting with Transport Questions in Parliament in January 2021.

I then secured a debate on the matter in March of the same year. In April 2021, I introduced my Ten Minute Rule Bill which was supported by Henry Smith, Sir Roger Gale, Gareth Bacon, Bob Blackman, Kelly Tolhurst, Damian Green, Gordon Henderson, Craig Mackinlay, Dean Russell and Felicity Buchan.

I continued to raise this issue in Parliament in June 2021, when I presented a petition from constituents who will be drastically impacted by the charge.

The Mayor held a consultation over the plan which I responded to and it has been reported that over two-thirds of responses were against the expansion of the ULEZ.

I again raised the issue in Parliament on 29th November, this time in Business Questions and the video can be watched by clicking on the photo above.

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Visiting Stone Lodge School as part of Parliament Week

Parliament Week

Parliament Week took place from 14th to 20th November and during this time, I visited two schools in Dartford marking the event by taking part in question and answer sessions.

At Stone Lodge School, I met with pupils from various year groups who were all very engaged in political issues. It was great to answer so many well-researched questions.

I was really pleased to hear that Stone Lodge was one of many schools taking part in Kent County Youth Council elections and it was great to meet Flourish, one of the school's pupils, who stood to be a member for Dartford.

I hope all students from across Dartford had the chance to vote in the election which took place between 14th and 27th November.

At the Leigh Academy, again, I spent the visit answering questions from students of all ages on a variety of issues ranging from mental health support for young people to the climate protesters.

I also answered questions from Year 13 students as part of their coursework towards their Global Politics examination.

It was really great again to see so many young people interested in the issues affecting them and our town.

I really enjoy visiting the schools in our town and being questioned by students of all ages. It is a privilege to let them know about my job as their MP and the role Parliament plays in everyday life.

If you would like me to visit your school, for a Q&A session, or to support a particular event you are hosting, please get in touch with [email protected]<mailto:[email protected]>

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Parliament Week visit to the Leigh Academy

Visit to Ebbsfleet Development Corporation

Earlier this month, I visited Ebbsfleet Development Corporation at the Observatory in Ebbsfleet and met with the Chairman, Simon Dudley.

During the meeting we discussed the growing Garden City and it was good to see how this development has become a flourishing community.

There are now around 3,000 homes at the site with plans to build around 650 more each year in the coming years.

During my visit I learned more about the Ebbsfleet Central proposals which have now been submitted for outline planning permission. This new development will create over 5 million square feet of mixed-use property including commercial workspaces, homes and a state-of-the-art health and wellbeing hub.

This development is proposed for land close to Ebbsfleet Station, which is just 20 minutes from Central London.
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Visit to Krispy Kreme

This month I had the opportunity to visit the Krispy Kreme manufacturing site in Dartford which opened last year.

The company has been at Bluewater for more than 15 years but they constructed the purpose-built manufacturing site in February 2021, with a further expansion this year.

Every week in Dartford, half a million doughnuts are made on site using the 85 year-old American company's secret ingredients. Around 110 staff work around the clock in manufacturing and logistics to make and deliver these fresh doughnuts daily.

There are three lines at the site producing doughnuts which are then hand-finished by staff who make the decorating look easy.

This site operates 10 delivery routes to Krispy Kreme shops and cabinets in all major retailers across the South East.

It is great to have such a popular, well-known business based in Dartford, creating jobs for the local community.

It was a pleasure to visit the factory, meet the staff on site and see first-hand how these popular treats are made. I wish them well for the future and look forward to visiting again.
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Employment figures

In October 2022:

* There were 2,190 actual claimants in Dartford constituency, which was 2.9% of the population aged 16-64. The equivalent UK claimant rate was 3.6%.
* There were 380 claimants aged 18-24, which was 4.8% of the population aged 18-24. The equivalent UK claimant rate was 4.6%.
Over the past year the number of claimants has fallen by 605 in Dartford, as shown in the table. The table also shows changes over the last month and since March 2020, before the coronavirus pandemic affected the claimant count.

Unadjusted count in Dartford, October 2022

Aged 16+
Aged 18-24

Claimant count

Change on month

Change on year

Change from Mar 2020

Boundary Commission proposals

Earlier this month, the Boundary Commission published its revised proposals for new Parliamentary constituency boundaries.

The Commission's initial proposal in respect of the Dartford constituency was for the wards of Darenth, Wilmington, Sutton-at-Hone & Hawley, to move to Sevenoaks. It was also proposed that Hartley and Hodsoll Street should move to Tonbridge constituency.

In the consultation earlier this year, I highlighted to the Boundary Commission there was a significant degree of concern over its suggestion of changes to the boundaries.

Wilmington is and always has been an integral part of Dartford and there is no clear geographical separation of it from the main part of the town itself. There was a very strong set of representations that it should not be moved to the Sevenoaks constituency. Wilmington Parish Council highlighted during the consultation that the current boundary "reflected historical associations, identified local feelings, and recognises the natural boundary of the Metropolitan Greenbelt."

There is also a clear consensus that Hartley and Hodsoll Street should not move to Tonbridge as it has no local identification to Tonbridge and shares little in the way of community provision or services.

Despite numerous representations from me and other individuals and organisations including Dartford Borough Council and Wilmington Parish Council, the Boundary Commission has not revised its proposals at all, thereby sticking with moving Darenth, Wilmington, Sutton-at-Hone & Hawley into Sevenoaks and moving Hartley & Hodsoll Street into Tonbridge. Dartford Conservatives also opposed these changes but Dartford Labour Party supported them.

There is now a third and final consultation which runs until 5th December 2022 and I would encourage everyone to submit their views on these proposals. The consultation portal can be reached by clicking on the link below.

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Lower Thames Crossing Community video newsletter - Autumn 2022

Here is the latest edition of the Lower Thames Crossing Community video newsletter which was produced prior the Development Consent Order being submitted to the Planning Inspectorate. The video includes information on:

* An update on the DCO application
* Exploring carbon neutral construction and expected emissions produced by vehicles using the crossing cut by 80%
* One million trees across the region to help reduce the impact and enhance the local environment
* Community engagement events
* Local workforce and carbon academy announced to help develop the skills required to deliver the project and in setting a new standard for low carbon construction
* Meet the bidder events held in Orsett and Gravesend to help build a local supply chain

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I recently met with Santander to discuss the work they have been doing to raise awareness of scams.

Over a billion pounds is stolen each year in the UK through scams and at some time or another most of us have been targeted. Whilst many scams are easy to spot, fraudsters are becoming more and more sophisticated in their efforts.

Santander's "Safe-Tea" campaign seeks to reinforce the message that scammers often socially engineer situations where a customer doesn’t feel they have time to think before being tricked into transferring their money. Santander UK research shows that something as simple as pausing to make a cup of tea before making a decision to provide financial details or transfer money, can help break the scammers’ spell.

Santander were clear that anyone in doubt about the authenticity of a call or email should always phone the number on the back of their bank card.

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Earlier this month, I was honoured to plant a poppy tribute on behalf of Dartford residents in the Constituency Garden of Remembrance in Westminster to mark Armistice Day.
This event marked the start of a week of remembrance in Parliament which culminated on Remembrance Sunday with images of falling poppies being projected onto Big Ben.
On Remembrance Sunday, I attended the annual service of remembrance at the war memorial in Central Park to lay a wreath, along with other local organisations and residents.

Target Ovarian Cancer Pathfinder Launch 2022

I was pleased to show my support for everyone affected by ovarian cancer in Dartford at the launch of Target Ovarian Cancer's Pathfinder report earlier this month.

Target Ovarian Cancer is the UK's leading ovarian cancer charity, working to improve early diagnosis, fund life-saving research and provide much needed support for women.

Pathfinder is Target Ovarian Cancer's ground-breaking research that provides a detailed picture of the experiences of those affected by ovarian cancer in the UK. While the report shows some progress has been made, it shines a spotlight on where we must go faster and further to ensure everyone with ovarian cancer gets the best diagnosis, treatment and support.

Over 4,000 women in the UK die from ovarian cancer each year and awareness of the key symptoms remains too low. I am delighted to stand with Target Ovarian Cancer and pledge to support faster diagnosis, fairer access to treatment and further, wider support for everyone diagnosed with ovarian cancer.

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At the end of last month, I met with Tom Moran, Managing Director of Thameslink at a drop-in session in the House of Commons.

It was good to get an update on train services in the area and understand more about how rail services have changed due to Covid.
[Gareth Johnson MP website]<[link removed]>

Gareth Johnson MP
House of Commons
London SW1A 0AA
Tel: 0207 219 7047
email: [email protected]<mailto:[email protected]>

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