On Tuesday this week the Chancellor, Philip Hammond delivered his spring statement. Now that the government’s annual Budget has been moved to the autumn, this statement is not looking to raise or cuts taxes, rather to give an overview on the strength of the economy, and plans for future government spending. At the time of writing this column, we do not yet know what the Chancellor’s message will include, but the underlying position of the economy is clear. As Philip Hammond stated last week, after the difficult decisions that have been taken over the last eight years to control spending, we are now seeing our national debt falling as a proportion of our national income. This means that less money will be spent paying the interest on those debts. One of the benefits of the improvement in the nations finances, is also that there will be more resources available to support public services. We have also seen the economy grow for the last five years, and overall it is 17% larger than it was in 2010. A result of this is that more people are in work today than ever before.
On Wednesday this week, there will be a public meeting at 7pm at the Community Centre in Lydd. The meeting has been organised by Romney Marsh County Councillor, Tony Hills, along with Lydd Town Council, and local residents concerned about plans to extend shingle quarrying closer to homes. As I have written about previously in this column, their campaign has my full support. They are responding to the open consultation on the 2013-30 Kent Minerals and Waste Local Plan, which could see over three million tonnes of shingle extracted over twelve years from a site to the north of Lydd. I support instead the proposal that has been suggested by Tony Hills, for the recovery of shingle by sea using a dredging vessel, operating out of Rye harbour. Each year thousands of tonnes of shingle, which are placed around Dungeness to support the coastal sea defences are washed away by the tides, and could be recovered to be re-used. The extraction of shingle from land based quarries causes great disturbance for residents who live close to the sites, and to those whose homes line the routes used by the heavy lorries to take their load away. We should be doing all we can to minimise this disruption.
Last Friday, I met with Ruth Tyler at the new home of the Folkestone Youth Project in Bradstone Avenue. It is great to see the mobile units that formerly accommodated the project in the Harbour, in place on their new site. Whilst there’s a lot of work to do before the new ‘Shed’, as it was known by its users, is up and running, it is good to know that it has taken another important step towards re-opening.