Since my election, it has been a pleasure to welcome so many engaged local businesses to Parliament, all of which face big challenges but have still secured success for themselves and the region.
Having ran a small business prior to my election I know very well the issues and opportunities that come with being in Kent so it is important we do all we can to unlock that greater potential and I will be continuing to work with Kent colleagues and ministers to achieve this.
In Parliament, as part of the Kent’s MP lobby group I regularly work with colleagues to raise with ministers the issues and opportunities across the region, such as infrastructure, with recommendations based on evidence provided by businesses, residents and the public sector.
Kent has long been neglected when it comes to strategic investment but there are now some steps being taken to rectify this, including the new Lower Thames Crossing and rail investment. However, it is important this investment continues and deals with the roads that suffer severe congestion on a daily basis and which in turn impacts small business.
Similarly, the universal access to broadband for businesses within Medway is something that needs addressing. Sadly, there are still a number of business units that are unable to access suitable internet connections, particularly around the Old Chatham Dockyard. This has been on my agenda for some time, having raised the issue in parliament and to ministerial colleagues, and I will be continuing forwards with this over the weeks to come.
It has also been with great pride to have seen the success of Rochester and Strood’s apprentices since my election. Since 2010 Rochester and Strood has created 8,800 apprenticeships which is a wonderful achievement and shows the exciting level of skills and industry we are seeing return to our towns. Apprenticeships are so important to those undertaking them – giving them the skills they need to succeed in life and in a role they want to progress in – and to employers, giving them the opportunity to mould and shape the workforce they need.
My priority is to ensure we maintain a positive business environment so our SMEs can continue to thrive, employ widely and drive our local and national economy forwards for years to come.