Newsletter from prospective parliamentary candidate for Folkestone and Hythe Damian Collins

Contributed by editor on May 10, 2017 - 06:05 AM


Welcome to my newsletter.



This month saw the Prime Minister’s announcement that there is to be a General Election held on Thursday 8th June.

This election is important as it allows each of our parties to set out their visions for Brexit as well as the other national issues affecting each and every one of us, from healthcare to the economy.

Beyond this important national announcement, April also saw the triggering of Article 50 following the Prime Minister’s letter to the President of the European Council, Donald Tusk.

More locally, we received positive news from the Care Quality Commission for the Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust. We also reached a decision from the Department for Education setting out that Turner Schools was the successful bidder in the application process to open a new Free School in the constituency.

As we head into the election period, I look forward to campaigning as the Conservative candidate for Member of Parliament for the constituency of Folkstone and Hythe.


This week the Care Quality Commission (CQC) has released a new report following its inspection of the Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust, which provides mental health, learning disability and substance misuse services as well as other specialist services to 1.7 million people across Kent and Medway.

The CQC has been able to report on significant positive changes since its last inspection of the Trust two years ago. Then the CQC had stated that the Trust required improvement, but now it has given it a ‘good’ rating with some of its core services being recognised as outstanding. These ‘outstanding’ services include long stay and rehabilitation mental health wards for working age adults, wards for people with a learning disability or autism, and the Trust’s substance misuse services.

The CQC has also praised the dedicated staff of the Trust for their commitment to the work that they do. The report states that it found the staff to be ‘compassionate, kind and respectful of patients and their families.’ The services provided by the Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust support some of the most vulnerable people in our society, and I would like to congratulate everyone at the Trust on their work and the recognition it has received from the CQC.


The Department for Education has confirmed that the Folkestone Free School will open in September 2018 as the successor school to Pent Valley. This announcement delivers on the promise made when it was decided that Pent Valley was to close; that there would be a new school to replace it, on the same site, and delivering for the needs of local families.

The new school will be created and run by Turner Schools, an East Kent based academy trust, which has also recently taken over two primary schools in Folkestone; Morehall and Martello Grove.

The decision to approve the bid from Turner Schools to run the new school was made by the Department for Education, after an open competition.

Dr Jo Saxton, the founder and chief executive of Turner Schools, was formerly the head of the Future Academies group of schools in London, which has a successful track record in launching new schools and delivering better results for students.

My wife Sarah has previously worked with Jo Saxton as a school governor of one the Future Academies, and is also an unpaid Director of Turner Schools.

Jo Saxton has also worked for the Education Minister, Lord Nash, and has been a Trustee of the influential New Schools Network, which is now run by Toby Young, one of the leading advocates of the Free School movement.

I know Turner Schools has been working to develop strong links to major local employers, like Eurotunnel, to understand more about the skills needed in the jobs market. In particular, the opportunity for young people with French language skills to work for major firms that have interests both in Kent, and on the other side of the Channel.

Jo Saxton has also met with other local education providers, including secondary schools and East Kent College, to understand how the new Folkestone Free School can best work with them. The founding of this new school is another significant investment in raising educational standards in Shepway for all young people, and I look forward to its opening, which will be in less that 18 months’ time.


I was delighted to attend the Gurkha Memorial Fund charity dinner at the Leas Cliff Hall last Friday night.

This charity was initially set up to raise money to create the Gurkha Memorial statue, which has quickly established itself as one of the focal points of Christ Church gardens in Folkestone.

The statue stands as a physical memorial to the debt of gratitude we owe to the Brigade of Gurkhas for their contribution to the British armed forces over so many years. In particular, the Memorial remembers the lives of Gurkha soldiers that were lost during the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq.

However, the statue also symbolises the close ties that have developed between Folkestone, and the Gurkha communities and people of Nepal. The strength of this relationship was demonstrated two years ago with the generous response from our community to the Nepal Earthquake appeal.

Lastly, this month Sir Roger De Haan announced his retirement as Chairman of the Folkestone Academy school.

I would like to thank Roger for his support and investment in education in Folkestone over the last decade. He leaves a legacy of rising standards and a massive improvement in facilities, which have directly benefited some of the most deprived communities in our district. There are more young people in Folkestone today, who have had the chance to reach their full potential through education than ever before

Due to the dissolution of parliament I am no longer the MP for Folkestone and Hythe while I campaign for re-election.

If you would like to contact me in my capacity as Conservative candidate for this position, please email me at , or call my Folkestone office on 01303253524,

If you would like to find out more about what I am up to during the campaign please follow me on Facebook.

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