Charlie Elphicke pays tribute to Dover council leader who ‘defied the doubters’
PUBLISHED: 10:58 28 September 2017 | UPDATED: 10:58 28 September 2017
Paul Watkins steps down after 15 years at the helm this week
The outgoing leader of Dover District Council has been hailed as a man who “battled every step of the way to defy the doubters” by the town’s MP.
Paul Watkins this week steps down after 15 years at the helm and has been widely praised for his contribution to the regeneration of the port town.
Dover MP Charlie Elphicke said the Conservative councillor had played “a key role” across a decade and a half at the local authority.
“He has worked tirelessly, year after year, doing his level best to boost Dover, Deal and the villages,” Mr Elphicke said.
“He battled every step of the way to defy the doubters. Doubters who never believed investment would be delivered in our community.
“He leaves a legacy he can rightly be proud of. Deal is a town transformed. The fast train now sweeps into the station every hour.
“Cllr Watkins helped fight to deliver the service which has helped the town go from strength to strength.
“Projects he masterminded transformed the sea front and improved the high street.
“Not only has Deal won high street of the year, it is ranked number one in a Times newspaper list of the top UK coastal towns.”
Mr Elphicke also hailed Cllr Watkins’ work in helping bring down Burlington House, an eyesore that blighted the town for many years, and helping progress the multi-million-pound St James’ development.
“So much has changed since Cllr Watkins first joined the Council in 1983,” Mr Elphicke added.
“Yet whether as ward councillor, chairman or leader – he has given his all to driving the district forward. Everyone can see how deeply this former Dover schoolboy cares about his community.
“I wish him a happy retirement with his wife Christine, their two daughters and three grandchildren.
“Cllr Watkins has done what he set out to do 15 years ago – and more. Incredible progress has been made.
“We will miss him as leader of the council. Paul can look back on all he has achieved with real pride.”