Last Wednesday I attended the special exhibition at the Customs House in Folkestone, for the detailed plans for the first phase of the Seafront development. It has been proposed that the first buildings will be constructed at the eastern end of the site, close to the coastal park and the Leas Lift. It is excellent news that after more than a decade of discussion, design and consultation, the Folkestone Harbour company is at last able to bring forward for planning approval the first buildings for the scheme. If these plans are agreed by the District Council, then construction work could start in the new year.
The proposals for the Folkestone Seafront have my full support. Like many, I want to see them delivered as soon as possible, so that this major regeneration project can take full effect. The plans will create new homes and jobs, attract new businesses to Folkestone, and give a boost to those that are here already. There are other direct benefits for the community that the developer is offering as well as part of the planning approval process. These include a £1.2million investment in GP services in Folkestone, £750,000 towards the restoration of the Leas Lift, £500,000 to improve the local transport network and £300,000 for play space facilities for children. In addition to these, the Folkestone Seafront scheme is also offering up to £3million to support local primary schools and educational services, £135,000 towards local libraries and other community projects, and an up to £1million contribution to the seasports centre on The Stade and other beach and water sports facilities.
Some of this investment is will support the new community that will live in the harbour area, but there are also wider benefits for the whole of the town. This money that would not have been available for Folkestone if the development was not going ahead.
Last Wednesday I was also pleased to support an event at the Quarterhouse theatre in Folkestone organised by Louie and Di Burns of Blueskypie records. Blueskypie works with many young and developing performing artists in East Kent. The purpose of the event was to bring these musicians together with representatives from PRS for Music and PPL, both bodies that work with performing artists to make sure that they get fairly paid for public performances of their work, including broadcasts on the radio. Through my work as Chairman of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee in parliament, I know how important it is that artists get the correct remuneration for their work, as without it they cannot continue to do what they do. Whilst the rewards for success in music can be great, it often involves a lot of hard work and sacrifice for those working their way up, as they develop their careers. I want to make sure that working in music is something that is open to all, and not only and option for artists who have significant private means to support themselves in the early part of their career.