Covid, Ukraine, Southern Water and consultancy assets – The Isle Of Thanet News
I didn’t think I would write about Covid again: at least I hoped not. I had my own surprise on April 1 with a positive Covid test. I had begun to wonder if I was invulnerable to it after all this time given the riskier lifestyle of daily public transport and the sheer number of interactions MPs have, including crammed into the green benches.
But no, just a day after the Easter break, it probably slipped my mind from a fellow MP. An unpleasant experience of one day feeling good, another terrible. Fortunately the roller coaster stopped, the test is negative but leaves a little jaded. Glad to have him out of the way with an immune system further boosted by the real thing.
It didn’t keep me away from the media, especially on the back of the government’s new energy security strategy to ensure greater autonomy. The strategy has many positives for encouraging inland exploration of what the North Sea still has to offer, which must be better than imports; I’ve had a lot of warm words about nuclear which I’m all for, but I’ve remained fixated on more renewables as the solution while glossing over the wind intermittency issue and the obvious problem solar once the sun goes down.
This is the part of the puzzle that no one is addressing and what I think could be usefully solved by considering shale gas extraction given that the use of gas will be with us for many years to come. The government has asked the British Geological Survey to undertake serious work on the ‘science’ of fracking, so no green light but at least the door is left open.
The war in Ukraine continues and the scale of war crimes committed by Russian forces is becoming more apparent day by day. The Prime Minister’s visit to Kyiv to support President Zalensky was a strong message that this country stands with Ukraine in providing military and financial support. The fact that the Prime Minister could travel by train from Poland without leaking was a surprise in itself – if only Whitehall could behave the same way.
There are many assets held by local councils. Thanet has a multitude of them, often acquired by historical chance from a bygone era. We are entering into a political and philosophical debate on the raison d’être of local councils and it is a thread that has been taken up by the Public Accounts Committee on which I sit. Should councils attempt to be owners or attempt to run a commercial enterprise? In the case of an asset that is yielding a good rental yield – probably yes, worth keeping, but in the case of assets that are struggling to earn a living or to cross the line in a commercial venture better suited to the private sector – probably not. The reason I am raising this issue is due to the various inquiries I receive from groups seeking to acquire community assets that could be better managed by individuals or by charitable/community groups. A vast subject.
As we approach spring, our most vibrant tourism economy is shedding winter. Our tourist offer suffered last year from various failures in the Southern Waters. To that end, I tried to hold a public meeting for the community to pose their questions to the company’s leadership team. Getting a date to suit everyone proved difficult and Covid restrictions had made many possible venues unusable, but I am happy to announce that this meeting will take place on Thursday 21st April from 6.30pm to 8.00pm at the Royal Harbor Academy (Upper site), Stirling Way, Ramsgate. The panel will include Ian McAuley, CEO of Southern Water, Dr. Toby Wilson Chief Environment & Sustainability Officer, a participant from the Environment Agency and Ash Ashbee Leader of TDC. I will chair the meeting. It will be announced on all my social media channels, but take the opportunity to advertise widely. In the meantime, to register, please email me at [email protected] There is a maximum attendance of 166 people and only by confirmed box office.