Our Man In Westminster Damian Collins MP
On Friday last week I was delighted to be able to help present a large number of football kits, donated by the charity Kit Aid, to support the Folkestone based organisation, Green Kordofan. Green Kordofan was started in 2011 by Raga Gibreel, and champions sport for development to support the people of South Kordofan, who have been forced to flee the civil was in Sudan. Sport is an excellent way to help rebuild communities and give focus and purpose to young people in particular, and I would like to congratulate Raga Gibreel for her excellent initiative.
The football kits, donated by Kit Aid, have been given to them by sports clubs and clothing manufacturers. Some of the shirts even included a number donated from Manchester United’s training ground at Carrington. However, any school, club or individual that has old kit they no longer need, can donate it to Kit Aid, who will make sure that it goes to a good home. Kit Aid was founded in 1998 by Derrick Williams MBE, who is also an employee of Affinity Water. I am looking forward to seeing photographs the kits that were donated last week being put to good use in Sudan. Please do get in touch if you would like more information about Green Kordofan and Kit Aid.
Last week I met with the regional operations team for Network Rail, and next week I will be seeing the Managing Director of Southeastern trains, to discuss the disruption in services caused by the closure of the Folkestone to Dover line. A new taskforce has also been set up this week bringing together the rail operators, local councils and MPs to make sure everything is being done to enable the repair work to be carried out as quickly as possible, and to support passengers whose journeys are being disrupted. I have also ready raised the issue of compensation for commuters who have purchased season tickets in the expectation of a normal service, and I am please that Southeastern trains have agreed that they will do this. We also need more train services running between Folkestone and London, particularly at peak times.
On Monday next week, the consultation closes on the two sites that have been brought forward by Highways England to create a permanent solution to Operation Stack. You can find the consultation documents by going onto the gov.uk website and searching for ‘Managing freight vehicles through Kent.’ It is important that everyone who has been affected by Operation Stack has their say. I believe that without creating a permanent off road lorry park, we cannot give any assurances that we can bring Operation Stack as we have known it to an end. Of the two sites being consulted on, the location to the west of Stanford village, involves the smallest amount of land being lost, and could also be directly integrated into the M20 and the motorway services at junction 11 of the M20. I will also be speaking about these proposals at a public meeting at Westenhanger Castle at 7.30pm on Friday 22nd January.