From JOHNSON, Gareth <[email protected]>
Subject FW: Thames, traffic and Ukraine
Date February 28, 2023 2:01 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

February 2023

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I met the Transport Secretary recently with fellow MPs to discuss Labour Mayor, Sadiq Khan's, disastrous plan to expand ULEZ to outer London. People overwhelmingly object to the Mayor of London’s cash grab.

A petition against the Mayor of London’s ULEZ expansion has now reached over 30,000 signatures.  The petition 'No to Labour’s Dartford Car Tax', was set up by me in conjunction with Dartford Conservatives and can be found by clicking on the button below.

As I have stated before, the ULEZ expansion will be a disaster for working people and Dartfordians will be penalised for simply travelling to work or just going about their daily lives. The response to the petition here in Dartford and the level of opposition in the Mayor’s own consultation, shows that people are against ULEZ. However, despite the level of opposition, Sadiq Khan and Labour Leader, Keir Starmer, are determined to carry on. It is clear they are not listening to the growing opposition here in Dartford.

In addition, five councils have launched a judicial review this month to challenge the Mayor of London's decision to extend the ULEZ zone. The London boroughs of Bexley, Bromley, Harrow and Hillingdon and Surrey County Council have brought legal action following TfL’s announcement in November 2022 that it would push on with proposals to expand the scheme in August 2023, despite strong opposition from across outer London and beyond. I will do all I can to support this challenge.

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Visits to Darent Valley Hospital

I had two visits to Darent Valley Hospital this month, the first of which was when I accompanied Minister of State for Health, Will Quince, to the Emergency Department (photo above).

At the end of the month, I visited Darent Valley Hospital again and met staff in various departments.

It was interesting to see the control room of the Emergency Department where all the information about patient numbers, including how long they spend in the department and whether they need to be admitted, is closely monitored.

On this occasion, I also visited the Pathology Laboratory at the hospital where around 6,000 samples are sent each day. This state-of-the-art lab provides life-saving diagnostics for thousands of people every day.

On any given day, 1500 members of staff are working at the hospital to provide a vast range of services and health provision.

It is always a pleasure visiting our local hospital and meeting staff on the front line of our NHS who work tirelessly to care for the people of Dartford.

More photos can be found below.

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President Zelenskyy addresses Houses of Parliament

The President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, gave a joint address to both Houses of Parliament in Westminster Hall on Wednesday 8th February.

The President was welcomed to Parliament by Sir Lindsay Hoyle MP, the Speaker of the House of Commons, and Lord McFall of Alcluith, the Lord Speaker.

President Zelenskyy had previously addressed members of both Houses in March 2022 by video link, shortly after the Russian invasion.

The President's Westminster Hall address was introduced by Sir Lindsay, with formal thanks from Lord McFall.

Sir Lindsay Hoyle MP, Speaker of the House of Commons, said:

"President Zelenskyy received a hero’s welcome today. Everyone was so moved by his words, his energy, passion and charisma, and especially his gift of a helmet, which was worn by “the ghost pilot” - so called, because the Russians couldn’t catch him.

I hope the President left in no doubt that we will continue to support him against the Russian aggressor - and do everything we can to keep the plight of Ukraine in the spotlight."

Lord McFall of Alcluith, Lord Speaker, said:
"We wish you and the Ukrainian people success, strength and fortitude. You are not alone in this struggle. This Parliament stands with you in solidarity as you continue this noble fight."

The video of the President's address can be viewed above.

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Lower Thames Crossing

At the beginning of February, I attended one of a series of community events showcasing the plans for the Lower Thames Crossing.

The roadshow at the Orchards Centre in Dartford provided information on the planning process, with details about how people could register to get involved. The Development Consent Order for the project was submitted for consideration at the end of 2022 and the application will be examined by a panel of independent experts later this year.

National Highways staff and apprentices working on the project were on hand to talk to people about the plans.

It was great to see so many people interested in this project and asking questions about the proposals.

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Lower Thames Crossing community video newsletter

The latest edition of the Lower Thames Crossing community video newsletter can be watched above, presented by Aaron from the Planning and Consents team.

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Port of London Authority

It was good to visit the Port of London Authority at the start of the month to hear all about their work.

People in Dartford may not know that the Port of London is the largest in the UK and as a Freeport since 2022, is expected to grow considerably in the next 30 years.

The main vision is for the River Thames to be the number-one net-zero commercial port, a key destination to live and visit and to be natural, with clean water and air.

In future, the Thames is expected to play an even more important role in the transportation of light freight with last mile delivery to London and the aim that more and more businesses will use the river as an alternative to road traffic.

During my visit, I heard about all the work that goes into scanning the river bed, its structures and banks, to keep an up-to-date record so any changes can spotted. It was fascinating to hear how little room some large boats and ships have to manoeuvre because of the tidal nature and meanders of the river. The depth of the Thames varies greatly from the estuary inland and a fleet of pilots work hard to escort the river traffic on their journeys.

We are very lucky here in Dartford to have the waterfront outlook the Thames offers and I hope that further areas of our river coast can be utilised to grow our local economy in future.

In the photo above, I am meeting the Port of London team John Dillion-Leetch, Raj Kehal and Lucy Owen.

Employment figures

In January 2023:

* There were 2,220 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 370 claimants aged 18-24, which was 4.7% 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 245 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, January 2023

Aged 16+
Aged 18-24

Claimant count

Change on month

Change on year

Change from Mar 2020

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Milestone Academy

This month I also met with P16 students from Milestone Academy at their satellite site at Wilmington Academy.

During the visit I told the students a bit about my work in parliament before taking questions.

It was great to answer lots of questions about my job and the work I do in Dartford and Westminster, as well as meet the students in this relaxed setting.

Teas and coffees were provided for all and it was a real pleasure to meet the group who were really interested to learn about politics.

[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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