Monday, 25 February 2008

Local wages fall £1,000 in five years

Local wages have fallen in real terms by £1,000 in five years. Our wages now lag Kent and the UK.

Official figures from the Office of National Statistics show that wage earners living in Dover & Deal have fallen behind by £2,000 a year compared with Kent and the UK in the last five years.

To my mind, these shocking figures result from the Government's failure to invest locally, failure to provide our community with its fair share and that this is taking a toll on local wages.

In 2002, the average local wage was £17,900 - the same as for Kent as a whole and almost £1,000 more than the then UK average of £16,964. In 2007, the average local wage was £19,000 - while Kent has shot up to £21,000 and the UK leapfrogged us to £20,000. Real local wages, after adjusting for inflation, have fallen from £20,500 to £19,000, a stand of living fall of over £1,000 since in five years.

This is a matter of real concern to me. For too long there has been underfunding locally. We need a fairer share of investment to take us forward. This is why we need urgently the road upgrades that should have happened 10 years ago. This is why Dover Council's regeneration plans are so important. This is why we need a change from talk to action and delivery. No-one should doubt how serious things are. We absolutely have to move Dover & Deal back into the fast lane.

Friday, 15 February 2008

No Port privatisation !!

I am against privatising the port of Dover. This question was asked by the Dover Express last week and deserves a clear answer. So I hope that's clear!

What's more, I have persuaded the Conservative Parliamentary party to change its official position. So I can also give an assurance that a Conservative Government will not privatise the port of Dover. There will be no port privatisation on my watch.
A "U turn"? Absolutely. A humiliation? More like an unashamed ability to listen to what people say. Something I would recommend to the current Government who have welshed on their manifesto commitment to a referendum on Europe, whose economic incompetence is seriously threatening our personal finances and who work day and night to close our hospital for a little "polyclinic" in the face of passionate opposition.
People tell me not enough has been done for Dover by the current Government and that politicians don't listen enough. That we don't get our fair share. I want to change that. Change to get a richer, safer Dover with better healthcare. Change to representatives that listen more. So please do get in touch with me on 01304 379669 or
I'd like to hear what you want to see for you, your children and the future. I am here to listen, to help and above all to serve.

Friday, 8 February 2008

Sea Scouts ready to grow

With Cllr Nick Kenton, I went to see Dover Sea Scouts.

Their motto is "Ready aye Ready" and they are ready to grow their numbers. The Scouts, based at TS Lynx near Connaught barracks, are hoping to take on more cadets.

The Sea Scouts are so important to our community. The kids learn the importance of teamwork and respect - things too often missing in our neighbourhoods. The cadets have great fun there and they are as keen as mustard. There are 40 cadets in total and I hope more people will sign up.

They are lead by Lt Sheila Watson, who's a great leader and a real inspiration. I hope community money can be found to do up their building and increase capacity. This picture is Cllr Kenton, myself and the cadets.

Tuesday, 5 February 2008

Why do we feel so broke?

I recently published a report with the Centre for Policy Studies called "Why we feel so broke?". It got masses of national coverage - The News of the World, Telegraph, Sunday Times, Daily Mail, Express as well as the Radio 4 Today programme, lots of other radio, Channel 4 News and local papers like Your Dover and the Dover Express (but not, of course, the East Kent Mercury).

The report shows that the average UK family is paying almost £8,000 a year more in tax than in 1997, while stagnating earnings are making it harder for households to meet these and other rising costs, a report claimed today.

The average household now pays around £16,938 in taxes - £7,800 more than when Labour first came to power. The rise, when combined with "excessive debt" and the increasing costs of servicing a mortgage and paying bills, means households are very vulnerable to any economic downturn.

The increases in taxation and the recent availability of easy credit is a potentially toxic mixture.
Until recently, average families were able to absorb tax increases partly through rising salaries and greater levels of personal debt. But since 2005 increases in disposable income after tax and housing costs have stalled or gone into reverse.

To see the report, go to this link:

Friday, 1 February 2008

Time for fairness on immigration

After 10 years of the current Labour Government, our roads are no better, our hospital is closure threatened and a record one in four are workless locally.

Last week the Government moved backwards on border security. And it's a real shame. Immigration minister Liam Byrne visited Dover. He could have got on a ferry to Calais and visited our overworked immigration officials there. He could have asked the French why they have banned stowaway detecting scanners.

But no . . . he announced yet another agency instead! We really need a proper border police force with full powers to secure our borders. The Dover Removal Centre is staffed with excellent and committed officers. Yet they are let down by the Home Office which lets a third of people get bail and apparently vanish.

It's not just a matter of border security. It's humanity too. Thanks to the Home Office a lot of people who are not bailed are stuck at the Dover Removal Centre (pictured) in limbo for years. They may have committed no crime yet they get more time than the average robber or paedophile. So I've worked hard to help people in that position to have fair treatment. They have a right to a fast decision - and so do we who pay for their imprisonment. Scanners can save lives. Too many stowaways die, like the 58 Chinese who suffocated.

This mix of incompetence with lack of compassion stains us all.