General Election 2024: Questions to candidates – Helen Harrison, Conservative, for East Thanet

Helen Harrison with fellow Conservative Sir Roger Gale Photo John Horton

On July 4 the country will go to the polls for the General Election.

Nationally, Electoral Calculus predict Labour will have a 272 seat majority of 272.

Predicted votes are 21.9% Conservative; 41.4% Labour; 10.8% Lib Dem; 14.8% Reform; 5.6% Green and the remaining 5.7% going to SNP, PlaidC and ‘other.’

In the 2019 General Election, before the boundary changes that have come into force this year, Conservative Craig Mackinlay took the South Thanet seat with more than 56% of the vote.

He polled 27,084 votes, some 10,587 ahead of nearest competitor, Labour’s Rebecca Gordon Nesbitt, who gained 16,497 votes.

Mr Mackinlay announced he would not stand in the forthcoming General Election due to the continued medical appointments and procedures that he continues to face after having had his arms up to the elbows and legs up to the knees amputated due to an extreme case of septic shock.

In East Thanet the poll has Labour with a 91% chance of winning the seat and Conservatives on 9%.

In East Thanet there are eight candidates vying to become the area’s next MP.

We have asked the candidates to answer some questions on issues that matter to Thanet.

Here Helen Harrison, standing for the Conservative Party in East Thanet, tells us her views on subjects ranging from housing development to the NHS:

Housing development- particularly on farmland – and the housing numbers dictated for the Local Plan are a concern for many residents.

What is your view on this, can government reduce housing need figures due to them being based on 2014 ONS stats which do not seem to reflect the 2024 situation and need?

Alongside this Thanet needs more social housing, how would you tackle this?

Answer – My first priority is to defend the remaining Green Wedge against further development. This part of Kent has taken a huge amount of development and we must preserve its character and the green spaces that we still have. Brownfield sites should be prioritised before any further erosion of our Green Wedge.

Housing need figures will only continue to rise if we do not control immigration. I will fight hard to ensure that we bring immigration down to manageable levels. At the same time, we must ensure that where development is taking place, the infrastructure to serve those communities comes with it – GP, dentist and hospital provision, schools and roads etc.

Developers need to be held to their commitments on the right percentage of social housing and not be able to wriggle out of it on viability arguments. Also, social housing built here in Thanet should be for Thanet people, not for the use of London Boroughs.

Minster Marshes – There is a campaign against the National Grid plans for a converter station as part of the Sea Link project. What are your views on this?

Answer – Although I understand that the Converter Station is needed infrastructure, I just cannot understand why National Grid would propose it being sited in a valuable natural site. This is a Site of Special Scientific Interest and needs to be protected along with the birds and wildlife for whom Minster Marshes is a vital habitat.

I oppose this site being used and will support the MP for Herne Bay and Sandwich in stopping this from happening and to find a more appropriate brownfield site.

Southern Water sewage releases in our sea – how would you tackle this?

Answer – I think the release of sewage into the sea and other waterways is something that we should do all we can to prevent, and the Conservative Government has been working to achieve this. We have a plan that by 2030, water companies will have to improve all storm overflows discharging into or near every designated bathing site and improve 75% of overflows into high priority nature sites. By 2050, this will apply to all remaining storm overflows.

I will work with all local MPs to hold Southern Water to account on delivering to this plan. I will listen to the concerns of local people and campaign on their concerns relating to this issue. By holding the water company to account, I will deliver for the people of East Thanet.

Cost of living – Thanet families are struggling to make ends meet, businesses also struggle as a result and there are a large number of empty shops in our towns. How will you help the economy to recover and how will you help our families and businesses?

Answer – This Conservative government has brought inflation down to normal levels whilst wages are growing faster than inflation. This means that families are better off. On top of that mortgage rates are beginning to fall and will continue to do so, making housing costs cheaper. This year we have already delivered two massive tax cuts which are worth £900 to the average worker. We have committed to a further National Insurance cut of 2% making workers a further £450 better off. In addition, we have protected pensioners with the Triple Lock Plus, meaning that the State pension will always be increased in line with the highest of prices, earnings or 2.5% and the tax-free personal allowance for pensioners will also rise by the Triple Lock, guaranteeing that pensioners will never pay income tax on their State pensions.

People having more money in their pockets means that they can spend more money in the local economy, meaning that local businesses grow and take on new employees, creating more people with money to spend. Thus improving our local economy.

NHS – Thanet has a severe shortage of dentists and there are not enough GPs, getting an appointment is problematic.

There is also desperate need for improved mental health services, both adult and child. What are your views on this?

Answer – Having worked in the NHS as a Chartered Physiotherapist I know that throwing more money at the NHS is not the only answer. The NHS is currently funded at real-term record levels, but we are not seeing the expected improvements to access and outcomes.

We are committed in the next Parliament to recruit 92,000 more nurses and 28,000 more doctors in the NHS than in 2023. We will provide more dentists by boosting training places by more than 40%. We will expand Pharmacy First which will free up 20 million GP appointments each year. All this will help transform NHS care in East Thanet.

Youth services: There has been a loss of funding for some youth services (such as Pie Factory and The Pavilion in Thanet). What are your views on provision of youth services and how this should be done?

Answer – I will work with Thanet District Council, Kent County Council, community groups and charities to improve and expand youth services. I will also engage in a listening campaign to find out from local people what local people need. I will then campaign on those issues and help to deliver what local people want. 

Manston airport – the DCO is now confirmed and it appears there will be no further legal appeals. What is your view of the airport/cargo hub scheme and what involvement , if any, will you have with the scheme going forward?

Answer – I am massively pro the re-opening of Manston Airport. This will bring much needed investment into our area, securing many vital high skilled, better paid jobs. As East Thanet’s MP I will work with the MP for Herne Bay and Sandwich to do everything we can to make this happen.

Asylum – what are your policies on asylum and small boat crossings?

Answer – It is my belief that people crossing the Channel in small boats are breaking our laws. They are paying large amounts of money to be illegally smuggled in to try to bypass our Asylum laws. This must be stopped, and I fully support the Rwanda scheme. In Parliament, I will support any measures that stop this awful trade in human lives including, if necessary, leaving the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

It is also vital that we tackle the unacceptably high levels of legal migration. The government, this year is cutting net migration by over 300,000, but we need to do more. Using the freedoms we have gained through Brexit, we can now control the number of people coming into this country and we should do so. This will significantly reduce the pressure on housing, the NHS and our schools.


      • So is her election leaflet that dropped through my letterbox yesterday. Especially the first statement where she says she supports the hopeless Rwanda Scheme.

    • From the Telegraph, January this year:
      ‘She said: “Obviously it’s been a deeply unpleasant process. Peter has consistently made it clear that the allegations against him are false and unfounded and as his partner I’m one of the small number of people who has actually seen all of the evidence in this case and I believe the allegations to be untrue.” ‘

  1. In your responses to the questions about housing and the electricity converter station you refer to trying to find alternatives to using greenfields and SSSI sites.
    How about Manston? A huge, derelict brown field site with plenty of room for houses and a convertor station.

    • His farewell speech-Tories have been so horrendous they have almost certainly even cost him the safest Tory seat in the land.

  2. In Thanet social housing doesn’t go to London boroughs but to our own residents from the housing register or who need rehousing for some specific reason like downsizing etc.

  3. Helens Tory friends in Kent County council have cut funding to youth services like the pie factory in Thanet. Judge tories on their record of 14 years of misery rather than hollow promises.

    • Mr Lewis – please, it’s the same song from you and puts me off even considering voting Labour for a positive change. It would be same rubbish parcelled up in a different way.

    • Not only has Tory-run KCC cut funding to the few youth facilities in Thanet like the Pavilion Youth and Community Cafe, they have withdrawn funding from the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme that helped young people get involved in their community and learn skills, self-worth and about the environment but they have closed Sure Start Centres that performed a vital service supporting families in a safe and caring locality.

      The Callis Grange Sure Start Centre enabled parents to gain confidence and qualifications that enabled them to get on college and degree courses and subsequently into employment. All that has gone thank due to the government slashing funding to KCC.

  4. The Tories had there chance and have wrecked the country, all are worse off except for themselves and there mates, but that is what they want because they couldn’t care less about the general public.

  5. “I am massively pro the re-opening of Manston Airport. This will bring much needed investment into our area, securing many vital high skilled, better paid jobs. As East Thanet’s MP I will work with the MP for Herne Bay and Sandwich to do everything we can to make this happen”
    Insist that air cargo currently flown into Stansted and EMA is diverted to Manston?
    Pass legislation that forces cargo currently tricked via ferry and Eurotunnel is directed to Manston?
    The place failed in the past because it lost huge amounts of money.
    What’s different now?

  6. Ms Harrison’s campaign video is centred on three lies:

    Lie #1: She will get Manston operational.
    Truth: An MP cannot magically make a private company find £800m of investment and then succeed. It’ll stand or fall on its own.
    Lie #2: She will get the Theatre Royal open.
    Truth: This is a TDC-owned asset and they’re going to reopen it with LUF money.
    Lie #3: She will get the Winter Gardens open.
    Truth: see above.

    In short – this candidate offers nothing new to this constituency other than her support of a corrupt and callous Tory government.

  7. Hi Helen,

    I received your letter through my door which was very can reach me on 07807557358 or email me at [email protected]. you’ve put Matthew down who no longer resides at 11 Cornwall Gardens. My name is Francois, I’m registered to vote and we are all conservatives.
    All the best to you and the party


  8. Good luck Broadstairs. I was raised a Thanet boy but now live in Wellingborough where Harrison stood in our February local election. She proved to be a greasy little opportunist, claiming to have supported a local campaign to prevent destruction of a parade of trees on the local river Embankment. She did nothing of the sort and was called out by the campaign organiser. You’re welcome to her !

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