The elections for our district, town and parish councils this month have led to some big changes. Many well-known and long serving councillors have departed, and new candidates from all parties have stepped up to take their places. Before discussing the outcome of those elections, I would like to say thank you to all of the candidates who put themselves forward. Many people have strong views about politics and the issues they care about, be they local, national or global. However, not everyone would be prepared to stand for election, to undergo the challenge and public scrutiny that comes with that, and be prepared to argue their case with people who disagree with them. Democracy thrives where we have vibrant debate. I am grateful as well for the service of many long-standing councillors, some of whom have retired, and others who were not re-elected, for all they have contributed to our community. In particular to Cllr David Monk, the outgoing leader of Folkestone and Hythe District Council who has been a driving force in support of the regeneration of our area over the past decade. As your Member of Parliament, I will work with all local people in positions of public trust in order to advance the interests of our area. We may not always agree on the issues, but doing the best we can for our community has to be our primary concern.
Our district has a series of opportunities in front of us over the next few years and it is important that we make the most of them. The £19million government investment through the Levelling-Up fund, will make a major positive difference to Folkestone town centre over the next two years. Following the granting of outline planning permission for the Otterpool Park garden town, in April, I hope that our new District Council will ensure that there is the greatest possible community benefit from this major scheme, which can deliver significant investments over many years in terms of new jobs, homes and public amenities. If the Princes Parade development in Hythe does not proceed, then we need to know when the town will have a new swimming pool and leisure centre, where it will be located, and how it will be funded. Also, what public facilities will be provided on the current Princes Parade site, and again, how will they be funded.
Over the next two years the government will accelerate its ambitious proposals for new clean energy production from nuclear power. This industry has a proud history at Dungeness, and I hope the new district council will continue to support my efforts and those of Kent County Council, to ensure that we can secure its long-term future. New technologies like Small Modular Nuclear reactors will be ideal for Dungeness where they can be built within the footprint of the existing nuclear site. I want us to be able to offer certainty to those currently working locally in this industry, that their long-term future can be here as well.