Wednesday 22 September 2021
Last Friday I visited Lydd Airport to meet with David Hainsworth, the managing director, and members of his operations team. The airport has been a feature of life on Romney Marsh for over sixty years and is still an important part of the local economy. I was pleased to hear that the airport is well placed to benefit from an increased interest from private aircraft to use its facilities. Lydd also benefits from being the permanent home to the HM Coastguard air sea rescue for our section of the coast. I thanked David and his team as well for their support for the use of the airport as a COVID-19 vaccination centre for residents on Romney Marsh during the pandemic. Later that day I also hosted a meeting, along with the leader of Folkestone and Hythe District Council, Cllr David Monk, with a range of local businesses from the care, hospitality, property and construction, and creative economy sectors to discuss the opportunities and challenges they are currently facing. Whilst for many local businesses, recruiting staff is one of the biggest challenges they face, most agreed that our area continues to benefit from strong interest from businesses looking to invest.
Many residents have written to me over the summer about the suspension of the garden waste collection services provided by Veolia on behalf of the district council. This has mainly been because of a shortage of drivers for the collection vehicles, which has now been resolved. As a result, the service will resume from 27 September, and customers will be compensated for the disruption with a discount on their bills for next year. I know this has been a real inconvenience for many people at a time of year when they are usually out working in their gardens. Lessons must be learned by Veolia as the contractor, so that we do not see a repeat of this suspension of services in the future.
I have also met with business owners in Cheriton High Street concerned about a proposal from Kent County Council to install cycle lanes on that road. This issue has also been raised by our local county councillors Dylan Jeffrey and Rory Love. The proposal as it stands would lead to the loss of a large number of on road parking spaces that are important for customers of the businesses in the High Street. I believe that cycle lanes are important for encouraging cycling in our towns and keeping people safe, but this scheme does not appear to be suitable for Cheriton High Street. I will also be asking the County Council to reconsider its plans and look at alternative ways in which it can support cycling in our area.
I’m pleased to see as well that more funding for small and medium-sized businesses in the Folkestone Community Works area has been released. A further £100,000 is now available under the SME Business Grant Scheme offering local businesses grants - which must be match-funded pound for pound - to help support their development and growth. Grants of between £1,000 and £7,500 are available and you can find out more information about how to apply by visiting folkestonecommunityworks.com or emailing [email protected]