For each week over the last few months another critical decision on Brexit seems to have been brought forward. I know from speaking to people right across the constituency last week, at events from Dungeness to Folkestone, and Hythe to Stelling Minnis that we desperately need to find resolution on this. At the time of writing this column, it is likely that by Friday parliament will be left with the choice of accepting the Brexit deal on offer in the draft withdrawal agreement or recognising that refusal will lead to a long delay. The withdrawal agreement is far from perfect, but it takes us out of the EU, delivers Brexit and enables us to start planning for the future. The last thing we need now is the uncertainty that would be caused by a long delay. Many people have told me that they just want us to leave the EU now, with or without a deal. However, we have to recognise, as parliament demonstrated last week in voting to remove the option of leaving the EU without a deal this week, that there is not a majority that would allow this to happen. So, the options really are taking the deal now, accepting a long extension, or calling a general election. I believe that accepting the deal would be in the best interests of the country.
Last Saturday I joined Cllr Ann Berry, the Mayor of Folkestone, for the formal re-opening of the Folkestone Youth Project, also known as The Shed, at its new home in Bradstone Avenue. I have been Chair of the Trustees of The Shed since it first opened in Folkestone Harbour in 2007. Since then it has helped hundreds of young people in the town with mentoring, support, training and sometimes, vitally just a safe place to go to. Since 2017 we've searched for a new location for The Shed and are grateful to Network Rail for allowing us to lease their site in Bradstone Avenue. Here we have moved the original mobile buildings used in the harbour by The Shed and added a third unit. This will allow us to also provide space for the work of the Kent Refugee Action Network (KRAN).
Ruth Tyler, the project manager for The Shed, along with her team of youth workers has done an amazing job in restoring and transforming the mobile buildings and the area on the site in Bradstone Avenue. We are grateful as well to the many organisations who have supported The Shed with funding to help its work. In particular I would like to thank Cllrs David Monk and Dick Pascoe who both gave generous grants from their County Council ward fund, which have covered many of the costs associated with moving The Shed to its new home. We’ve also received contributions from Folkestone Town Council which have helped fund important equipment within the mobile buildings. I look forward to seeing The Shed flourish in its new home.