MY WEEK IN WESTMINSTER

A NEW and unexpected problem has literally arrived on our shores in the last few months – cockle picking.

For a while now the area opposite Seafield Road has been plagued by problems as a result of the surge of fisherman out collecting the precious molluscs.

I’ve received reports of anti-social behaviour as well as unsafe practices by some of the cocklers and, like the police and Fylde Council, who are trying their best to keep the situation under control, I’ve had enough.

I was in the area myself last Friday just to keep an eye on how things were going and I was shocked by just how chaotic the place was.

This is not a new problem. For weeks I’ve been hearing from Cllr Tommy Threlfall, Fylde Council’s environment portfolio holder, who is passionate about trying to get something done to improve matters.

He, like many residents, is understandably fed up with the unruly behaviour of some of the cocklers and the apparent lack of scrutiny being given to their activities by the fisheries authorities.

The Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority (IFCA), I’m told, are responsible for issuing licenses. However, given the behaviour of some, but not all, of the cocklers I feel these licenses should be looked at again.

I’ve now written to them to ask what scrutiny is being given to the licenses and what powers they have to withdraw them.

I hope they will take a very serious look at this and withdraw permits from anyone who is fishing in an unsafe manner or causing trouble for local residents.

Preparation, it seems, was one of the biggest issues and I think the whole community have been taken aback by the deluge of activity.

With that in mind I’ve asked the Fisheries Minister, Richard Benyon MP, to meet with Cllr Threlfall, myself and senior officers from the council to allow us to feedback our concerns.

I will, as always, report back.

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