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Levelling Up & Keeping Dover Clear: More than a day late and a dollar short

Letter published in Dover Mercury 22 Feb 2023:

No doubt in the run up to local elections this May and with a General Election on the horizon, we will continue to hear from Conservatives at Dover District Council what a boon the £45 million 'Levelling Up' money will be for Dover and Deal. The leader of DDC is already heralding this 'tremendous news' as recognition of the need to 'level up Dover as the UK's gateway town.'

It has taken 6 years and the very real danger of losing seats in local elections in Kent for the Conservative government to do something to solve the cross-channel traffic problems that cause misery to local people. They caused the problem by taking the UK out of the European Union but whatever your feelings on that particular issue, all the research and studies predicted serious border holdups post-Brexit.  

Clearly money should have been made available to mitigate this, preferably before but certainly after we left the EU. The Conservatives have failed to do this at every opportunity! In 2020 the government denied funding from the £200 million UK Port Infrastructure Fund for a £33.5 million project to build more passport check points. The Port of Dover had to resort to a legal challenge of the decision. Where was the recognition of Dover as the UK's gateway town then?

Now, Conservatives are throwing considerably less money than is needed at the issue, whilst trying to convince local people that they care. We won't be fooled. The money is intended to 'improve the flow of traffic from the UK to the EU, with more border control points and a new exit route to help the port operate more efficiently and reduce congestion on local roads.' This isn't 'levelling up' a disadvantaged and left behind area, this is providing critical infrastructure for the UK at its most vital trade Port. Dover handles £144bn of trade in goods and 33% of the UK's trade with the EU, supporting the UK economy. Of course the government should be investing in it.

How far will £45 million go towards easing the traffic chaos we all know and hate? It costs somewhere between of £20 million and £60 million to construct a mile of dual carriage way. This is many, many days late and and many dollars short. It represents nothing more than a sticking plaster, but offers some good publicity for the Conservatives who are running scared. 

We welcome the money that is being made available to Dover Town for the Bench Street regeneration that is so necessary. We hope that the positive impacts of that regeneration won't be lost amidst lanes of lorries and cars belching out diesel fumes into the new parklet.

Christine Oliver
Parliamentary Spokesperson for Dover and Deal Green Party

Christine Oliver
Pod and DWDR
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