Friday, 23 December 2011

The review of the year 2011 (top 10)

1. The Pfizer closure announcement

On the 1st February Pfizer announced that it would be closing its research & development centre in Sandwich with a direct loss of 2,400 jobs and another 2,400 indirectly, in contractors.

Local MPs Charlie Elphicke, Laura Sandys and Kent County Council led a task force to ease the impact of the closure. Subsequently Pfizer have announced they will retain 650 jobs, the site has been awarded enterprise zone status and rebranded Discovery Park and has been awarded a Regional Growth Fund.

East Kent to get £40m to fund jobs growth

2. The Open

The BBC's Dan Walker tweeted "Highlight of the day: just seen Jim Carver from The Bill in a curry house in Deal #SmallThings". For several barmy nights Deal came alive like never before, it was a great championship.

The Open 2011 photostream

3. HM Royal Marines concert

A fly over by a Spitfire and a Hurricane, Deal opera singer Rebecca Robinson and huge crowds remembered the 11 soldiers who were killed by the IRA in the bombing of the Deal Barracks on September 22 1989.

4. Deal and Sandwich go highspeed

Two days after the launch of this service returning to Deal at 140mph via HS1 I opened the Evening Standard and was delighted to read: Here's the Deal

A momentous day but the fight for a full service goes on.

5. Deal, Walmer and Kingsdown Carnival and Regatta Week

This is always a great week for the town which attracts huge numbers of visitors, but this year many agreed the fireworks from the pier were exceptional.

6. Deal Festival of Music and Arts

7. The Deal beach seal

This summer a young common seal pup was washed up on Deal beach which led a local celeb on an astonishing adventure.

8. Deal Town FC

9. Mystery man wakes on Deal beach

On August 17th a man walked into the Victoria Hospital suffering from head pains and amnesia.

10. The Big Deal

Forget the "Big Society" we have always had a strong community in Deal but this year it felt as though a renaissance locally and afar had rediscovered our truly great, historic and progressive town.

Folkestone (Growth)
Ramsgate (Regeneration)
Deal (Tourism)
Canterbury (Prosperity)

Monday, 12 December 2011

A request to the new Secretary of State for Transport for a full highspeed service to Deal and Sandwich before 2014.

The 06.24 highspeed service arrives at Deal station

Southeastern claimed there was no business case for it, yet the new highspeed train service for Deal and Sandwich has been keenly subscribed. Journey times have been slashed to 80 minutes with improved reliability and punctuation compared to the notoriously slow and intermittent classic service.

The population of Deal & Sandwich with its surrounding villages is on a par with Folkestone and higher than Dover, more significantly it has one of the lowest jobs to population ratios in Kent even before considering the Pfizer closure implications.

The area has huge tourism potential and many people have already used the Friday night highspeed service to Deal from St Pancras to take a weekend break on the Kent coast. Equally important is the support highspeed services can bring to the new Enterprise Zone on the post Pfizer site at Sandwich - The Discovery Park.

The Kent Rail Action Plan presented to Theresa Villiers calls for all day highspeed services to Deal and Sandwich when the new rail franchise is awarded in 2014.

However it is clear from passenger demand that the current service needs increasing before 2014. There are only 3 trains serving Deal and Sandwich in the morning and 2 in the evening. By the time the peak morning trains reach Ashford International they are almost full which means many passengers boarding at Ashford now have to stand for the remainder of the journey.

The new Secretary of State for Transport, Justine Greening MP has already shown with the recent rail cap reduction success that she is willing to listen to reason and common sense. Roger Gale MP for Thanet North has recently stated the highspeed service on the North Kent line is of no use to East Kent.

Therefore I have written to the Secretary of State for Transport asking her to consider reviewing the current Southeastern highspeed specification with the objective of bringing a full highspeed service to Deal and Sandwich before 2014.