Constituency matters… a weekly column by the Member of Parliament for Folkestone and Hythe, Damian Collins OBE 29 March 2024.


The Easter weekend always feels like the start of spring, even when it comes early as it has this year.  For many local businesses, it is also the first important period of the tourist season.

On 22nd March I was pleased to visit the Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway, at its station in Hythe, along with the railway’s Managing Director Danny Martin and Deidre Wells, the Chief Executive of Visit Kent. This was part of English Tourism week, whose theme this year is ‘Supporting tourism, at the heart of our communities’ and you could hardly get a better example of that, than with this railway. We know what an important contribution tourism makes to our local community.

In Kent, we’ve seen a strong recovery in the value of our visitor economy since the pandemic, which by the end of 2022 had increased to over £3.7 billion, a 46% increase compared to 2021. Over the same period the number of tourism related jobs in Kent supported by the visitor economy has increased by 27% to 74,462.

Romney Tweed

One local community interest business that has sought to promote our area, as well as create sustainable local jobs is Romney Tweed.

On 22nd March I was pleased to attend a special event organised at Brookland village hall to mark its tenth anniversary and to hear about their plans for the future. Romney Tweed designs and creates tweed fabrics woven from locally sourced wool from Romney sheep. These are created to reflect the unique colours found in different locations on the Marsh and along the east Kent coast. Romney Tweed also organises a design competition for local schools to create patterns for new fabrics and increase the interest and knowledge of students looking to work in the fashion and textile industries. Congratulations to Pat and Robert Alston who have been the driving force behind Romney Tweed, as well as to everyone who has worked with them.


It is always a pleasure to welcome schools when they visit the House of Commons, and on Tuesday 26th March, I was able to meet and speak with groups of staff and students from Seabrook primary school, as well as Hythe Bay primary school. They had a great range of questions for me to answer about my role as a Member of Parliament, both working in the constituency as well as the House of Commons.

Surge in sewage spills

On 27th March the Environment Agency published its fourth annual report on storm overflow discharges at sea, which showed large and unacceptable increases. The heavy rainfall, the worst since 2012, has contributed to this increase because of surface water run-off into the sewers, but this cannot be an excuse on its own. The water companies must and will do more to combat this problem.

It is important that the water companies are held to account for their performance, and this fourth annual report on sewage discharge does just that. This is information that wasn’t published under previous governments. The Department for the Environment has this month announced a further £180milion investment to help combat sewage discharge. This is in addition to the more than £3billion investment from the industry over the five years to 2025. I will also be meeting with the Environment Agency and Southern Water after Easter, and before parliament returns, to further discuss this problem.

By Ed

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