Dartford MP on his first year in the hot seat
PUBLISHED: 13:43 19 May 2011
»Q. Would you class your first year as an MP a success? A. I have had some big successes. I stopped the sell-off of the Dartford Crossing and secured the abolition of the toll booths, secured extra investment from the Department of Health and the Highways Authority for the local area and I helped hundreds of people with problems they have needed assistance with.
Q. Prior to the election you highlighted regenerating the town centre as top priority. Is this still your priority?
A. Getting the town centre right is vital for Dartford. We have seen progress on the development proposals. The council has been right to stand up to Tesco and ensure that any development benefits Dartford. Tackling congestion on the Dartford Crossing is my priority this year.
Q. Your voting patterns seem to support greater autonomy for schools. Why is this important?
A. We should trust schools to have greater control over their own affairs. This is particularly the case with good schools. I have made no secret of my support for grammar schools and continue to support our rapidly improving academies and other non-selective schools.
Q. You highlighted cracking down on crime, yet the police budget has been slashed by the Conservatives.
A. Budget cuts in public services have been necessary to stop this country becoming bankrupt. I have obtained an agreement from the Chief Constable to increase the number of frontline officers in Dartford. No officers in Dartford will be made redundant.
Q. You have shown concern over Darent Valley Hospital and the influx of patients from south-east London. What is being done?
A. I have obtained an agreement for greater funding for Darent Valley from the Minister of Health.
Q. You voted to stop transport and emergency service unions striking unless a majority of workers have voted for it? Do unions have too much power?
A. Sorting out the county’s financial mess is our priority. This can lead to disagreements with unions that represent workers who are affected. If the unions carry out co-ordinated action as threatened then we may need to look at curbing some union powers to ensure that we do not move back to the dark days of industrial disputes.
Q. Has there been any Conservative bill you have voted against?
A. I opposed proposals to increase the tolls on the Dartford Crossing. I believe they should be scrapped in their entirety and will continue to campaign for this.