Each week a different PPC provides us with an insight into life as a candidate and gives us a flavour of their own campaign and interests. If you are a candidate and are keen to be featured, please email Jonathan Isaby.
This week’s diary is written by Damian Collins, who was selected in July 2006 for Folkestone and Hythe, where Michael Howard is standing down at the general election and bequeathing a notional Conservative majority of 12,446 to Damian. A former political officer of the Bow Group, he contested Northampton North in 2005 and has worked in the advertising and communications industry for over a decade. He is married with two children and you can read more about him and his campaign on his blog. Here's his diary of the last seven days...
This week we have been battling with the elements in East Kent, but a week which started with thick snow on the ground across Folkestone and Hythe ended with a warming debate in the BBC South East studios.
The previous weekend we had had heavy snow, which had closed roads and made it difficult to get out. At home in Elham the temperature one morning was as low as minus 6 degrees Celsius, and my daughter Claudia's snowman was enjoying a longer than expected life in the garden.
Snow disruptions, particularly when they affect the Channel Tunnel, the car and lorry entrance for which is just outside Folkestone, can cause lots of problems. Lorries are 'Stacked' on the M20 motorway leading to complete closures between junctions. We have an urgent need for investment in the general road and rail freight infrastructure around the Tunnel and also the Port of Dover. I have written about this issue before on my blog.
However, the bad weather hadn't been enough to deter the contestants for the annual Romney Marsh Sloe Gin Competition at the Ship Inn in Dymchurch. I had been asked once more to join the panel of judges and on a blind tasting. The winner's cup went again to our local County Councillor, Willie Richardson, and the funds raised from the event went to the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) Dungeness appeal.
Willie has also been closely involved with one of the major issues which has recently affected the constituency: the future of Dungeness and the prospects for a new nuclear power station there. The Dungeness 'B' power station is due to come to the end of its operating life in 2018 and the site had been on the Government's shortlist for a new generation station to be built. However, following some questions raised by Natural England on the environmental impact of the new station on the shingle beds that form the Dungeness peninsular, the plan was dropped. This decision is still part of a consultation process that will close on 22nd February and there is considerable local support for a new power station which could create up to 2,000 local jobs. It could also supply more than enough clean energy to power the the whole of Kent.