MY WEEK IN WESTMINSTER

This week I was disappointed to read that iron and steelmaking at Sahaviriya Steel Industries UK’s Redcar plant in the north-east of England is to be mothballed, with the loss of 1,700 jobs.

This is obviously extremely sad news for the workforce and their families and is further proof that major industries can be catastrophically affected by market forces.

That is why it is vital that no area is too reliant on a single major employer and why I fought for the creation of an enterprise zone in Fylde following the announcement of major job cuts at BAE Systems in Warton in 2011.

While in that case the company managed to mitigate against large numbers of compulsory redundancies, Fylde’s economy took a noticeable hit and the repercussions of those job losses were felt for a long time afterwards.

The town where I grew up in Scotland faced a similar situation some time ago when the local ICI plant closed down and almost overnight a thriving area faced previously unforeseen challenges.

I am determined that will not happen in Fylde and I continue to call upon the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership to ensure new businesses are coming on to Fylde’s two enterprise zones, providing high-quality, well-paid jobs.

While the Government cannot alter global market conditions, in enterprise zones we have created specific incubation sites where businesses can thrive due to special conditions and provide continuing employment.

On Friday I visited the Alzheimer’s Research dementia information bus which was in Lytham for the day.

With the number of people with dementia expected to double in the next 30 years and predicted costs to our healthcare services likely to treble to more than £50bn, dementia will continue to be a huge health and social care challenge.

Initiatives like this information bus provide a great service as they can be placed in public areas and people can feel comfortable to go and speak to someone about any questions they may have.

I was pleased to see Wrea Green and Freckleton commended in the Lancashire Best Kept Village awards this week.

For this to continue it is essential that villages like Wrea Green retain their unique character and I know local people have been concerned by the number of new homes approved in the village of late. While planning is a matter for local councillors, I would urge them to bear this in mind when deciding whether developments should be given the go-ahead.

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