From JOHNSON, Gareth <[email protected]>
Subject ULEZ, Rainforests and Hydrogen
Date January 31, 2023 7:16 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

January 2023

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I am continuing to campaign against the expansion of the ULEZ zone, which is being proposed by Labour's London Mayor, Sadiq Khan. He announced at the end of November that he would expand the Ultra-Low Emission Zone to the whole of London in August of this year.

I was recently interviewed by BBC Southeast in Maiden Lane, which crosses the border between London and Kent. Dartford is likely to be the hardest hit area when this scheme is introduced, because the border straddles the local area and the scrappage scheme will only apply to Londoners. Many of the poorest people in Dartford will suffer a huge financial burden if this goes ahead.

I emphasised during the interview that the border between London and Kent is not neat; people cannot avoid paying this charge just to go out of the road where they live. This is one of the things that is so wrong about it. It is also taxation without accountability as people in Dartford do not vote for the London Mayor.

According to the BBC, the Mayor of London excluded over 5,000 responses to the ULEZ expansion consultation this summer. If this is true, the Mayor has undermined the integrity of his own consultation.

It is also disappointing to hear that Labour leader, Sir Keir Starmer, has backed the Mayor's plan to expand ULEZ to Dartford's border. The Mayor of London is not listening to what people are saying in Dartford. No one here wants or supports ULEZ.

This expansion will be a disaster for hard working families. We must speak out against this tax at every turn and Keir Starmer’s support for the Labour Mayor of London will not stop us from opposing it.

I will continue to vocally oppose any ULEZ extension plans, which would see drivers of cars, smaller vans, motorbikes and other lighter vehicles, which do not meet the ULEZ standard, pay £12.50 daily if they cross the boundary into London.

I am due to meet the Secretary of State for Transport soon to further campaign on this issue.

For a link to the interview, please click on the photo above.

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This extremely useful app provides real-time wait times at local Urgent Treatment Centres (UTRCs) and Minor Injuries Units (MIUs) across Kent and Medway.

The WaitLess app guides patients to sites which are less busy and provides details of the services available at different locations. It does not determine whether a UTC or pharmacy is an appropriate choice. For clinical advice, patients should contact 111 by phone or online:<[link removed]>

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Wilmington Grammar School visit
Earlier this month, I was delighted to welcome politics students from Wilmington Grammar School's sixth form.

The students were given a tour of Parliament before I met them for a Q&A session, after which I organised gallery tickets for them to watch a debate.

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Lower Thames Crossing

In November, the Planning Inspectorate accepted the Development Consent Order application for the Lower Thames Crossing.

It has now opened the period for stakeholders and members of the public to register to become an Interested Party by making a Relevant Representation. A Relevant Representation is a written summary of your views on the Lower Thames Crossing. You can register to become an Interested Party on the Planning Inspectorate website until 24th February and a link can be found below.

The Planning Inspectorate has published a document with answers to Frequently Asked Questions<[link removed]> about the pre-examination stage and registering as an Interested Party.

A new video fly-through has also been produced, giving a bird’s eye view of the route of the Lower Thames Crossing, showing what it could look like 15 years after the road opens.

National Highways is also holding a series of events at community halls and shopping centres in February to give you the chance to chat with a member of its team. It will be providing information on the planning process and how you can register to get involved when its Development Consent Order application is examined by a panel of independent experts later this year.

These events will be held as follows:
Friday 3rd February 2023
10am - 5pm
Orchards Shopping Centre, Dartford DA1 1DN
Monday 6th February 2023
3pm - 8pm
Chalk Parish Hall, Pirrip Close, Chalk DA12 2ND

Wednesday 8th February 2023
3pm - 8pm
Cascades Leisure Centre, Thong Lane, Gravesend DA12 4LG
Thursday 9th February 2023
10am - 6.30pm
Hempstead Valley Shopping Centre (outside M&S), Hempstead Valley Drive, Gillingham ME7 3PD
Wednesday 15th February 2023
10am - 8.30pm
Bluewater Shopping Centre (ground floor, opposite M&S), Bluewater Pkwy, Dartford, Greenhithe DA9 9ST
Saturday 18th February 2023

10am - 5pm
Thamesgate Shopping Centre, Gravesend DA11 0AU

Register as an Interested Party<[link removed]>

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Cost of Living help
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) announced earlier this month more detail on the payment schedule for the next round of cost of living support, unveiled in the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement.

The new £900 cash boost for over eight million eligible means-tested benefits claimants, including those on Universal Credit, Pension Credit and tax credits, starts in the Spring and will go direct to bank accounts in three payments over the course of the financial year. There will also be a separate £150 for over six million disabled people and £300 for over eight million pensioners on top of their Winter Fuel Payments.

Exact payment windows will be announced closer to the time but are spread across a longer period to ensure consistent support throughout the year. They will be broadly as follows:

* £301 – First Cost of Living Payment – during Spring 2023
* £150 – Disability Payment – during Summer 2023
* £300 – Second Cost of Living Payment – during Autumn 2023
* £300 – Pensioner Payment – during Winter 2023/4
* £299 – Third Cost of Living Payment – during Spring 2024

Rhizome Energy Ltd and Rhizome2 Hydrogen Ltd

In mid-January I was pleased to meet up with the team from Dartford’s Rhizome Energy Ltd and Rhizome2 Hydrogen Ltd at the UK Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Association Lobby Day in Westminster.

It was great to see the team again and hear about some of their recent achievements.

This company, which is developing green hydrogen production and refuelling system products, is going from strength-to-strength and just before Christmas, it was awarded “Best Owner Managed Business” at Dartford Business Awards 2022.

In order to accommodate its growing workload, the company is moving into bigger offices in its current building, as well as employing an additional engineer.

It is always great to meet innovative people from Dartford and it is great to see this local business working hard to deliver clean fuel in the up-and-coming hydrogen sector.
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Employment figures

In December 2022:

* There were 2,220 actual claimants in Dartford constituency, which was 3.0% of the population aged 16-64. The equivalent UK claimant rate was 3.7%.
* There were 375 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 330 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, December 2022

Aged 16+
Aged 18-24

Claimant count

Change on month

Change on year

Change from Mar 2020

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Dartford Science and Technology College

Earlier this month, I visited Dartford Science and Technology College and met with students and staff. I talked to students learning about the Amazon Rainforest during their Geography GCSE lesson.

It was great to see the innovative ways the school is teaching students and learning about the different approaches the school takes to help all students.

The positive atmosphere in the school was really good to see and it is always a pleasure to meet teachers and students who are really enthusiastic about their school.

Principal, Anne Davis, is retiring at the end of the school year and I would like to take this opportunity to wish her all the best in the future.

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Cherry Orchard Primary Academy

I was delighted to join Year 6 pupils at Cherry Orchard Primary Academy recently for a Q&A session.

The school opened in 2017 and I have visited several times, the last time being 2018 when I joined staff and pupils to plant a tree as part of the Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy.

On my recent visit, it was a pleasure to have a tour of the school and see some of the children being taught phonics, before meeting the older children and answering their questions.

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Asda Green Token Giving scheme

The Green Token Giving scheme is a key part of the Asda Foundation’s grant giving programme and donates £1.4 million to local charities and good causes each year.

In-store voting is currently on hold; however, residents can go online to place their vote and support one of the three local causes in their community.

To vote, residents will need to select their local store from the drop-down list at the top of the page and will be able to see the three good causes they can choose from, along with some more information about each to demonstrate the work they do.

The cause with the most online votes will receive a £500 donation, with second place receiving £400 and third place £300. The online voting is open until 30th April.

To place your vote, please click on the link below and select Greenhithe.

Asda Green Token Giving scheme<[link removed]>

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The King's Coronation Portrait Competition
The Coronation will take place on the morning of Saturday 6th May at Westminster Abbey. Tens of thousands of people are expected to visit the capital to experience this unique and historic occasion, with millions more watching from home, across the UK and around the world.

Coronation Big Lunches, thousands of street parties, and a day dedicated to good causes will bring communities together throughout the UK over the special Coronation Bank Holiday weekend.

On Sunday 7th May, a spectacular Coronation Concert at Windsor Castle will showcase the country’s diverse cultural heritage in music, theatre and dance. One of the highlights of the concert will be “Lighting up the Nation”, in which iconic locations across the UK will be lit up with projections, lasers, drone displays and illuminations.

To mark this occasion, I am organising a competition for Primary School children to enter. It involves the children producing a portrait of the King as he may look at his Coronation, or at any other time and can also include the Queen Consort. Each school will judge its own entries and decide on two winners. Bluewater has kindly agreed to display the winners' artwork and the winners will be invited with a parent or teacher, to attend the opening.

I organised a similar competition last year to commemorate the late Queen's Platinum Jubilee, which many schools took part in. The children produced some fantastic pictures and hopefully will do so again to mark this historic occasion.

All primary schools in the Dartford constituency have received an invitation to take part.

National Lottery Awards for All

Later this year, the National Lottery Community Fund will be supporting communities across the United Kingdom come together to mark His Majesty The King’s Coronation. Funding is available for events and activities that celebrate and commemorate the King’s Coronation, through the National Lottery Awards for All programme.

Groups based in Dartford who want to apply should do so by 11th February at the link below.

Please note it can take up to 12 weeks from National Lottery Awards for All application submission to successful groups receiving funding.

National Lottery Awards for All<[link removed]>
[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]>

Copyright © 2023, Gareth Johnson MP, All rights reserved.

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