Tag Archives: Helen Grant

MP launches petition to save Maidstone barracks

Maidstone and the Weald MP Helen Grant is launching a petition opposing the closure of Invicta Park Barracks.

Campaigners with Helen Grant at the Invicta Park Barracks – December 2016
Campaigners with Helen Grant at the Invicta Park Barracks – December 2016

The petition calls on the Ministry of Defence to reconsider this decision in light of the negative impact upon some 800 service personnel and their families as well as our County town both economically and socially, and through loss of the army’s longstanding civil community support.

Helen said, ‘From all of the soundings I have taken so far I know that many local people are concerned about the decision to close Invicta Park Barracks, breaking centuries of military tradition in Maidstone. There is also great affection for the town’s vibrant Nepalese community and local people are wanting to show their support for them. I feel duty bound to launch this petition and provide an official platform for people to voice their opposition. I am also sending a survey to around 10,000 randomly selected addresses in the central Maidstone area to allow people to share their views about the proposed closure of Invicta Park Barracks. The survey can be downloaded here http://bit.ly/2kjPxSI and I encourage anyone and everyone to take part.’

The petition is available online at: www.ipetitions.com/petition/save-maidstone-barracks. Petition forms are also available at Helen Grant’s constituency office on the London-bound forecourt of Maidstone East railway station. The petition will be handed in to the Ministry of Defence before Easter this year.

Leader of the Maidstone Nepalese community Mr Dhan Chand issued the following statement;

‘We all feel that that this decision will have a devastating impact on our community. We have always been encouraged to take a long term view and create a permanent home here and we have worked so hard for many years to become an integral part of the Maidstone community.

We hope that people from across the borough will use Helen’s petition and survey to voice their opposition to the barracks closure and help us to keep Maidstone as our home.’

Lt Col J B Awford (ret), former Commanding Officer of Invicta Park Barracks, said;

‘I believe the decision to close Invicta Park Barracks is unsound. It will be a negative step for the army, for Maidstone and, no doubt, for the established Nepalese community.’


·       The proposed closure of Invicta Park Barracks was announced in November 2016 as part of the Government’s ‘A Better Defence Estate Strategy.’

·       It is one of 91 proposed closures to military bases across the UK.

·       Further information can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/better-defence-estate-strategy

·       Helen’s survey download is here: http://bit.ly/2kjPxSI

·       The online petition is here: www.ipetitions.com/petition/save-maidstone-barracks

Helen holds OFCOM and Government to account on diversity at the BBC

Helen Grant holds the Government to account over lack of diversity on BBC
Helen speaking in Parliament

As the BBC Charter renewal was debated in the Commons, Tory diversity champion Helen Grant MP ratchetted up the pressure to deliver a truly diverse future at the BBC.

In a speech described by Labour opposition MP Helen Goodman as “characteristically powerful”, Mrs Grant set out a list of requests for the Secretary of State, her Minister and OFCOM to plug the gaps in the Charter and the Agreement; whilst stressing in her speech, transparency drives diversity.

The MP for Maidstone & The Weald noted the Department for Culture, Media and Sport had published helpful information sheets on a large number of policy areas. However the department has failed to produce a comprehensive document setting out the diversity and equal opportunities processes. Mrs Grant pressed for such a comparable document from the Secretary of State and her Ministers to be published as soon as possible.

Helen also asked for the Secretary of State to confirm that the diversity recruitment provisions, would apply equally to off-screen and on-screen personnel, from all suppliers both internally and third party contractors. This is to reflect the fact that the Draft Charter states, the BBC must ensure it reflects the diverse communities of the whole of the United Kingdom.

Mrs Grant further pressed for the BCC to make the public aware of their arrangements to achieve equal opportunities in relation to disability, race and sex and for the Secretary of State to pay special attention to the word “effectiveness”, used in the Draft Charter, to ensure the process delivers effective action.

Helen calls for more political engagement from minority communities

Maidstone BME forum were delighted to have Helen Grant MP and the Deputy Mayor of Maidstone, Councillor Malcolm Greer together with 200 guests from 20 different countries around the globe, all coming together to enjoy celebrating Maidstone’s diverse borough and the achievements of the forum over the last year.

The event was designed for sharing cultures and traditions; to meet new friends, find out more about the Maidstone BME forum and learn more about services available to new arrivals to the Borough.

Helen Grant MP spoke passionately about the need to embrace and celebrate our diversity and to counter the national 85% increase in hate related crime that has emerged following the Brexit referendum.

Helen said ‘events such as our Maidstone BME Forum multi-cultural celebration on Saturday are precisely what is needed to sustain happy and cohesive communities. It is also vital that people from diverse backgrounds engage with the political process if they are to effect positive change. Registering to vote is a good start, but I would encourage people to stand for election in public office, at all levels”.

Jacqueline Bobb, Maidstone BME Forum facilitator and Service Manager from Involve Kent said “The BME multi-cultural celebration event was truly inspirational. I am so proud of our BME ladies who worked so hard to pull it all together. The event was really owned by the communities themselves and it was a joy to watch the enthusiasm and talent of our local musicians and dancers who proudly showed off their traditions and demonstrated just how diverse and talented our borough has become”.

Celebrating England Gold at the Maidstone Hockey Festival

Maidstone Hockey Club - upcoming events
Upcoming events

Former Minister for Sport and Maidstone and the Weald MP Helen Grant returned to the hockey pitch last weekend, 35 years since her last game as a teenager.

Maidstone Hockey Club’s Hockey festival was organised to attract new members and encourage former players back to the sport whilst also celebrating the women’s team GB Hockey gold medal in Rio. Players of all ages turned up throughout the day last Saturday to participate and support the event, culminating in a barbecue at the club house in South Park, on Armstrong Road.

Helen said “I’ve been looking for an excuse to get back into hockey for ages. I really miss my team sports and I used to play hockey at County level in Cumbria. The Maidstone Hockey Festival was just the chance I was looking for. The players and coaches were warm, welcoming and lovely and I hope to become a regular at Maidstone Hockey if my schedule allows”.

Chairman of Maidstone Hockey Club Matt Evans said “Our festival was part of the national ‘I Am Team GB’, ‘Join in’ campaign. Over 140 men, ladies and juniors took part in games throughout the day and attended a coaching session. The event was a resounding success and Maidstone Hockey Club are looking forward to the new season with a raised awareness and support for the game following Team GB’s gold medal in Rio’.

For more information about Maidstone hockey go here; www.maidstonehockey.org

Town Centre pub gets visit from MP after £70,000 refurbishment

Community pub The Stag in Maidstone, Kent, has reopened following a joint investment of £70,000 by multi-operator Chris Dyer and the UK’s leading pub company, Enterprise Inns, attracting a visit from local MP Helen Grant.

Helen Grant MP Chris Dyer Publican, Stuart Vine manager.

The venue, located just off the town’s busy high street, has been closed since February 2016 while a full refurbishment took place to include an updated bar area, new toilets, a contemporary outdoor space and an upgraded kitchen.

Entrepreneur Chris, aged 34, also runs Enterprise sites Bar Chocolate in Maidstone and Command House in Chatham. He said: “Before I took over in March, the pub was in need of some attention and we’ve completely transformed it. We want The Stag to be somewhere people come regularly, enjoy great drinks and great food.

“Even though it’s located in the city centre, we really want to provide a local feel where passers-by become regulars and see us as their go-to pub.”

Historically, The Stag has been a wet-led pub, but since Chris took over in March he has introduced a lunch and evening menu, in addition to a full vegan menu, following customer feedback. The Stag has also become the only pub in Maidstone to serve real cask ales direct from barrels that sit behind the bar in view of the customers. It also offers a comprehensive range of craft beer that complement its new menu.

Chris said: “I was very excited to bring in the barrels for customers to see, this gives them a different kind of experience. It looks really good, and it’s definitely a topic of conversation around the bar!”

Enterprise regional manager Richard Mernagh said: “Chris is a great guy, and has a fantastic business head on his shoulders. I have worked with him for six years during which time he’s opened two other successful Enterprise sites in the area.

“We’re very excited about the transformation, Chris has a great vision for the pub and we look forward to seeing it unfold. The successful renovation is testament to the strong relationship Enterprise has with Chris and I am sure it will continue to grow in the future.”
MP Helen Grant visited the pub on Friday 15th July during an official celebration to mark its reopening. Helen said “I think people visiting Maidstone’s town centre will really enjoy this superbly renovated historic pub. I think The Stag’s new offering as a quality food and specialist ale house will attract a wider level of trade and garner a lot of regular local custom. The ambience is great, the food and ales are delicious and the staff are lovely. I wish the Stag every success”.

Lottery offers £10,000 to local groups

The Big Lottery Fund is calling on local groups to apply for funding to hold events or activities that will bring people together and celebrate what makes their local community special.

Applications for funding opened on 6 July 2016 and further information can be found here www.biglotteryfund.org.uk/celebrateengland

Helen Grant, who used to be the Lotteries Minister, told MWCA: “This is a great opportunity for people in my constituency to celebrate something in our local history, or a local community hero, to mark something important to the community or simply to get to know our neighbours better”.

“After the unwelcome divisions created by the referendum this is a super opportunity to bring people together again”.

MP Backs British Farming at NFU Brexit Event in Westminster

Helen Grant MP
Helen Grant MP

Helen Grant, Maidstone and the Weald’s MP, attended a reception in Westminster where the NFU stressed the importance of food security and the need to back British farming following the EU referendum result.

Helen said: “The NFU event in parliament was a great opportunity to talk about the future of farming outside the EU. Farmers in Maidstone & The Weald work incredibly hard to produce high-quality food and manage our beautiful countryside and they need assurances that the UK government will provide them with the support they need to increase their competitiveness, profitability and productivity as we move forward.

“I was very happy to sign the NFU’s post-referendum pledge to Back British Farming and I will do all I can to ensure that we build a domestic agricultural policy which is adapted to our needs, easy to understand and simple to administer.”

The NFU is engaging with Government to ensure a strong basis of support for the farming sector – the bedrock of the UK’s largest manufacturing industry, food and drink, which is worth £108billion. NFU President, Meurig Raymond, said it is important that agriculture is part of the political conversation right from the start of talks on new domestic policies.

Mr Raymond said: “This event was the perfect opportunity to urge MPs across the political spectrum not to let the Government ignore the economic importance of the agricultural sector – we want to see action being taken to ensure farming in this country has a thriving future outside of the EU.

“Food security is not a party-political issue. MPs of all colours should be taking the farming sector very seriously – farmers’ ability to feed the nation, and play a part in feeding the world, depends on it. The impact of Brexit on the farming sector is huge; trade agreements, access to labour, farm support and regulation are all crucial to agriculture’s future. We’re now presented with a blank canvas for a domestic agricultural policy which is an opportunity for parliament to shape a prosperous future for farming in this country.”


 Helen Grant MP addressing a group of 150 students in a Creative Access Parliamentary Masterclass at the House of Commons last week.
Helen Grant MP addressing a group of 150 students in a Creative Access Parliamentary Masterclass at the House of Commons last week.

The Channel 4 Apprenticeship Scheme has just opened for applications for the September 2016 intake and Helen Grant MP is urging constituents to apply, particularly those with disabilities.

Helen Grant, MP for Maidstone & The Weald, was a keynote speaker at a Creative Industries Masterclass last week in the House of Commons where 150 students heard about her personal journey through business and into politics and the interrelationship between politicians and the media.

Helen said ‘Channel 4 are a leader in promoting equality and social mobility and I am a great fan. Their Apprenticeship Scheme is about helping bright people gain experience in the creative industry, work towards an NVQ Level 3 and get paid at the same time. They actively encourage talented people who are looking for an alternative to university regardless of their background.

This year, they are also ring–fencing 50% of places on their Apprenticeship and Work Experience programmes to support people with disabilities to get into the media industry and start to build exciting careers’.

Keeping the Barbie hot is just the tip of the iceberg!

Earlier in July, Helen Grant MP visited the Calor depot at the old station in Cranbrook.

Helen said “Looking after the needs of local businesses is an important part of the role of a local MP and I am always pleased to visit firms to learn of their contribution to the local economy and to help them wherever I can”.

“Cranbrook Calor Gas Centre is well known by local people as a supplier of gas bottles for the Barbie, but few realise its importance as a strategically important major distribution centre for a much wider range of users where a mains gas supply is not available; agricultural businesses, garden centres, building sites, fisheries, road marking services, holiday parks and sports centres to name a few.

Calor are also fundamental in keeping our Airports operational, providing Liquified Petroleum Gas (LPG) for many of the support vehicles working in all weathers and conditions.

The people at Calor have asked me for some help in progressing some regulatory problems and I will be pursuing these issues with the appropriate ministries.”

Calor Gas in Cranbrook
Helen with Harry Saunders (Distribution Transport Supervisor) Jake Holden (Work Experience Student from Cranbrook School) and Paul Blacklock (Head of Strategy & Corporate Affairs) at the Calor Gas Depot in Cranbrook, Kent

Free trees offer for local schools

Helen Grant MP
Helen Grant MP

Helen Grant, MP for Maidstone and the Weald, was pleased to learn that Primary Schools in her constituency are being offered the chance to plant trees with help from the Woodland Trust. The scheme aims to provide schools with a chance to connect to nature and improve their local area by planting trees – for free. Children across the constituency can look forward to planting a copse (small group of trees) or hedge, which can provide a wild harvest, or a burst of year round colour.

Over the next four years, the department for environment, food and rural affairs, (Defra) are supporting The Woodland Trust to offer an additional 400,000 British native trees to up to 7000 state funded primary schools in England. As well as free tree packs, for eligible schools, there’s help with finding somewhere else to plant if there isn’t room in school grounds; protection to help the trees grow; and on-line curriculum-linked resources to support teachers’ lesson plans.

In response to the news Helen Grant MP said: “This great opportunity will help schools improve their local environment and enable children to learn about nature. Trees bring enormous benefits to not only the environment but also to us also. I am very grateful grateful to the Woodland Trust for the offer to donate trees to my constituency and to provide this oppurtunity”

Beccy Speight, Chief Executive of The Woodland Trust said: “It’s vitally important children get the chance to plant a tree. We know from our research it’s a memory they’ll treasure for years to come, and often starts their relationship off with the natural world and all the benefits that brings. This scheme offers schools which have found it hard in the past, a new way to plant trees, and bring an oasis of green into their community.”

To apply for a free tree pack visit the Woodland Trust website, www.woodlandtrust.org.uk or search ‘School tree packs’ on-line; http://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/freetrees. The closing date for applications is September 9th 2016 for tree delivery in November.