On Monday this week I spoke in the debate in the House of Commons on the Housing and Planning Bill, which has been introduced by the government to improve the supply of affordable homes to rent and buy, as well as giving councils new powers to tackle rogue landlords.

Improving the number and quality of new homes is one of the most important challenges we face. High property prices in London are forcing many people to leave the capital, in search of more affordable parts of the country. We have been one of the beneficiaries of this, with increasing numbers of households moving to the Shepway area, attracted by the quality of life, and the high speed rail link into London. However, there is also considerable demand locally for homes to rent and buy, and we need more housing stock to meet our own needs.

The Housing and Planning Bill sets new requirements for developers to build more starter homes which can be offered to first time buyers at 80% of their market value. This initiative, added to the government’s existing ‘Help to Buy’ scheme, will bring home ownership within reach for many people much sooner than they could have hoped.

We also want to extend the Right to Buy for tenants renting from Housing Associations, just as it is available for those living in council accommodation. The Housing Associations will receive money from the sale, and top-up funding from the government, to make sure they can build new homes to rent to replace those that are being sold to their tenants. This new Right to Buy scheme can make owning their own home a reality for thousands of people in our area. If you would like more information about this, or any of the other schemes I have mentioned, please do get in touch. You can find my contact details on my website www.damiancollins.com

I was pleased to see that Shepway’s new parking restrictions for heavy goods vehicles are now in place along the A20 from Sellindge to the Eurotunnel. This means that lorries will face fines and enforcement action for parking up illegally on roadsides and verges, where they can cause such a mess, and endanger other road users. As part of our long term strategy for dealing with Operation Stack, we need to make sure there is proper enforcement against lorries parking in Shepway in the wrong places, and this new schemes is an important and positive step in that direction.

This Sunday is Remembrance Sunday, and I will be attending the service in Hythe, which is held from 10.30am at the war memorial, next to the Royal Military Canal. I hope you are able to support the Royal British Legion’s Poppy Appeal this year, and can attend one of the services where you live. As we are during the period of commemoration for the centenary of the First World War, and our armed forces remain on active service around the world, now is an important time to say thank you, and that we will always remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice in defence of their comrades and country.