From JOHNSON, Gareth <[email protected]>
Subject Crossing, cats and Holi
Date March 28, 2023 12:51 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

March 2023

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Holi Festival

I was delighted to attend the Holi Festival in Dartford this month.

The festival, which originates from India, has become very popular in recent years in the UK and it marks the victory of good over evil and the arrival of Spring. The event in Dartford is the largest of its kind in Kent with over 1000 people attending.

Activities included colourful powder being thrown on those attending, free Indian street food, live drumming by the Kings of Dhol and music by DJ Amit.

As well as bringing people together from all communities in Dartford promoting cultural diversity and understanding, it was great fun!

More photos can be found below.
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CMT - SafeSmart Access

This month I had the pleasure of officially opening the new warehouse and offices of CMT in Dartford and the video can be played by clicking on the photo above.

CMT is the fastest-growing independent construction equipment supplier to businesses in the UK, and spreading around Europe.

The Burnham Road-based business is a supplier of more than 8000 product lines, selling everything from PPE to safety equipment for construction.

During my visit, I met with staff from SafeSmart Access, which is part of the group and is supplying equipment to HS2 sites. The team showed me some of the safety solutions they are supplying to ensure workers on the ground are protected, including ladders with safety barriers and solar powered welfare cabins.

The new state-of-the-art storage building is set to house the company’s product lines and it is expected there will be around 100 staff working for the company at its peak. This new space, which has solar panels on its roof, will mean around double the storage capacity from the firm’s current location.

It was great to hear how the company has a solid team, with low staff turnover, and that this is one of the key reasons the company decided to remain in the area and invest in this large building in Dartford.

I was pleased to meet CMT’s Marketing and Innovation Lead, Matt Glass and hear how the company navigated the pandemic by diversifying into supplying product lines which were needed during that time.

As Europe’s biggest infrastructure project, HS2 requires significant amounts of supplies from CMT Group and the company is working on a number of specific products for sites.

It is great to see the benefits of HS2 filter all the way down to Dartford.

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Ovarian Cancer month

I met constituent, Sue Stockham, at a Target Ovarian Cancer Pathfinder event last year and she has produced a video to highlight the symptoms of ovarian cancer.

March marks Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month and Sue has asked me to help raise awareness of the symptoms of ovarian cancer. Just 21 per cent of women in the UK are able to name bloating as symptom of ovarian cancer. With no effective screening, symptom awareness is key. By knowing the symptoms to look out for, women are more likely to visit their GP sooner, increasing their chances of being diagnosed earlier.

Sue's video can be found above.

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Lower Thames Crossing
Earlier this month, the Department for Transport announced it was delaying the construction of the Lower Thames Crossing by two years.

This news is deeply disappointing and a delay of two years will do nothing to help Dartford's traffic problems and nothing to boost the economy. It is the residents of Dartford who face the daily impact of our traffic problems. The LTC would help the current situation and we should just be getting on with building it.

However, I acknowledge the Government has expressed its commitment to the LTC, albeit on an extended timetable. It is also to be welcomed that the Planning Inspectorate will continue its important work of reviewing the planning application submitted in November 2022.

I will continue to argue the case for Dartford that the Lower Thames Crossing should be built as soon as possible.

To play the interview with BBC South East, please click on the photo above.

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Lower Thames Crossing

I also raised the delay to the Lower Thames Crossing in Treasury Questions. To hear my question and the response, please click on the photo above.

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Highlights from the Spring Budget 2023:

* Childcare revolution to expand 30 hours free childcare for children over the age of nine months, alongside boosts to subsidised childcare for parents on Universal Credit including upfront support.

* A £27 billion tax cut for business through radical ‘full expensing’ policy and capital allowances reform which will drive investment and growth.

* Measures to ease cost-of-living burden will help more than halve inflation, with extension of Energy Price Guarantee and duties on fuel and a pub pint both frozen.

* Major set of reforms to support people into work, removing barriers that stop those on benefits, older workers, and those with health conditions who want to work from working.

* Inflation falling, debt down and growth up in Chancellor’s Spring Budget for Growth that delivers upon the Prime Minister’s economic priorities.

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Re-adoption as Conservative Party Parliamentary candidate

I was delighted to be readopted as the Conservative Party Parliamentary candidate for Dartford to contest the next General Election.

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Pet Theft

As part of Dog Theft Awareness Day, I was pleased to attend the drop-in event on pet theft, held by The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Cats (APGOCATS) and to pledge my support for the pet theft amendment to the Kept Animals Bill to include cats. The significant welfare impact of pet theft to cats, and the emotional impact on their owners, must be recognised in the pet abduction offence.

At the event, I was asked to share advice from SAMPA (stolen and missing pets alliance), about keeping dogs safe. Their advice is to never leave a dog unattended outside a shop, in your car or garden, keep your dog close on walks and change the time and routes of daily walks. Check your home and garden security. Be aware and don’t become a dog theft victim. It’s also a good time to remind everyone to check their pet's microchip is correctly registered. Last year Battersea Dogs and Cats home reported 63% of stray pets had incorrect or unregistered microchips.

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Visit to Holy Trinity Church of England Primary School
Do you want to be PM? What do you think Dartford will look like in 100 years? and What do you think of the Elizabeth line?

These were just a few questions members of The Politics Club at Holy Trinity Church of England Primary School asked me when I visited at the end of February.

It was great to meet with the club and take questions from this curious group of primary school children.

Q&A sessions are always really interesting and this group asked me lots of excellent informed questions about the town and my role as the local MP.

If you would like me to visit your school to take part in a Q&A session, please contact my office.

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Wilmington Academy

I was pleased to attend the annual International School Award celebration to congratulate Wilmington Academy's Principal, Michael Gore, on the school's achievement of accreditation with the British Council ISA.

The British Council’s International School Award is a framework for schools to incorporate international elements to their curriculum teaching - preparing young people for work in a global economy by increasing their understanding of other cultures.

Many congratulations to the school, this is a fantastic achievement.

Employment figures

In February 2023:

* There were 2,235 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 385 claimants aged 18-24, which was 4.9% of the population aged 18-24. The equivalent UK claimant rate was 4.7%.
Over the past year the number of claimants has fallen by 220 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, February 2023

Aged 16+
Aged 18-24

Claimant count

Change on month

Change on year

Change from Mar 2020

[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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