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In the news: January 2019

The Labour Party in Thanet continues to voice opinion in our community. Here are just a few of the news stories where I have championed a socialist perspective during January.

HGV post-Brexit Trial run

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On January 7 there was considerable coverage of the stress testing of the Manston to Dover lorry route and the holding facilities at the former airport. Only 87 lorries turned up when thousands would be expected in reality. I voiced my opinion on the BBC News, stating concern over gridlock for Thanet residents. IoTN also reported my fears that similar levels of traffic through Ramsgate to the port, especially at times when the access tunnel is closed, will have a huge impact on residents and business.

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The coverage from BBC South East Today

Rowdy Ramsgate

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It’s no joke. Every week I meet traders and residents from Ramsgate Town Centre who endure the effects of late night drinking culture fuelled by cheap alcohol. IoTN published a story on January 7 giving advance notice of a meeting I had called to discuss the problems. The gathering, which took place on January 23 at Café Zest was well attended and productive. We will be holding another shortly.

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Seeing Red

In my IoTN column I turned the focus on the NHS. Following the launch of an official 10 Year Plan I and other commentators have been highlighting the need for practical, not political solutions. We have a crisis here in Kent which is only going to worsen unless we invest in staff and facilities in the places where they are needed the most. Of course, I used the column to once again raise the subject of the threatened Stroke Unit in Margate’s QEQM Hospital.

County Councillor Karen Constantine: Fighting for our NHS

Ramsgate Port fiasco

As we entered the new year, questions related to Chris Grayling’s plans for a no-deal Brexit were making headlines. Dredging had started in Ramsgate Port and TV crews from the UK and Europe descended on the town. It had become clear that Seaborne Freight, awarded the contract to run ferries between Ramsgate and Ostend in Belgium, had no experience of such an operation and, worse still, no ships. Channel 4 News ran a film on January 4 which picks apart the plans and in which I questioned the benefits for Ramsgate.

In mid January the port was cited in a council report as being a major factor in a projected overspend. At this time, officials were warning that funding to keep the facility ‘ship-ready’ would be withdrawn if a signed deal with Seaborne Freight was not forthcoming. Meanwhile, with scrutiny of Seaborn Freight mounting and concerns increasing, Labour Councillors and Ramsgate Action Group were calling for a vote of no confidence in Thanet District Council’s ability to run the port and harbour.

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On 13th January the BBC ran a news report about the proposed cuts. In it I called for any strategic planning for the port to include economic regeneration for the town – something the current plans ignore.

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On January 15 IoTN reported the draft budget at Thanet District Council, with coverage of questions raised by myself and other Labour councillors. With proposed cuts on the cards, I wanted to know whether jobs would be lost.

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In mid January it is understood that a person taken by ambulance to the Accident & Emergency Department at Margate’s Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother Hospital died in a corridor whilst waiting for treatment. The death was deemed preventable, had staff not been so busy. The story, although tragic, makes me angry as it illustrates the catastrophic state of our NHS currently. In the days after the death I was contacted by various news outlets, including Kent Live and the BBC.

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