MY WEEK IN WESTMINSTER

GETTING back into the swing of things after the Christmas period can sometimes be a struggle.

But this week I’ve got a couple of constituency appointments which I’ve been looking forward to for a while and should help to ease the post-Christmas blues.

On Friday morning I visit HMP Kirkham for the first time which I’m sure will be fascinating.

I know it is a hugely progressive facility where, as well as being proactive in their efforts to rehabilitate prisoners, they contribute a huge amount to the local community.

From planting flowers on Lytham Green to sprucing up local railway stations, as well as running rehabilitation courses for people with severe physical disabilities, the prison is everything we would expect a modern open prison to be.

Additionally, everything I have heard about HMP Kirkham so far from local community leaders has been very impressive.

I hope to find out more about their work in the community as well as the problems that they face.

For all their work in the community we must not forget what prisons are there to do – punish and hopefully rehabilitate serious criminals.

Reducing re-offending is vital and I’m keen to find out more about how our community is contributing to doing so.

Later that day I’m also looking forward to an appointment which couldn’t be more different, a meeting with Lancashire Youth Council.

It’s always excellent to meet young people who are interested and actively engaged with politics.

I know our local youth MP, Helen Rendle, has been a tremendous success and is never shy to put her points across to me.

It’s vital that young people have a voice and I’m looking forward to hearing plenty of their refreshing opinions which can often give a fresh perspective on things.

Finally this week I want to offer my congratulations to Blackpool Football Club on their tremendous form.

I know a huge number of people from Fylde will be keen Seasiders fans and it really is a joy to see so many people revelling in their success.

No one would ever accuse me of being a football expert but I’ve met a few of the players and board members at the club and have been very impressed by their commitment.

The club’s promotion to the Premiership can also, I believe, be a powerful economic driver as well as providing great publicity for the Fylde Coast and we must do everything we can to support them.

Long may it continue.

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