MY WEEK IN WESTMINSTER

THE first week back in Parliament in the New Year is always hectic.

But, amid big stories about a referendum on Scottish independence, the welfare state and racism in sport, there has been very welcome news for Fylde and the whole of the UK.

The new High Speed 2 proposals, accepted by the Government last week, are vital to Britain’s long-term prosperity.

You will, no doubt, have read much about the impact, cost, effect and timescale of the proposals which are set to bring high speed rail to Lancashire by around 2033.

However, while this is tremendous news and will undoubtedly have a massive impact on jobs, growth and quality of rail travel; I want to focus on Fylde and our railway connections.

This is because, while the timescale of 2033 for high speed rail to reach the North will seem a long way off,

I’m continuing to press for a major breakthrough for Fylde  – direct trains between London and the Fylde coast.

The bidding for the West Coast Mainline franchise is currently underway, and I will be urging all bidders to adopt proposals to set up not only a direct service between London and Blackpool but also, hopefully, a stop in Kirkham and Poulton le Fylde.

This would be excellent for business, tourism and commuters and, of course, cut down on journey times significantly.

After all, if the idea of high speed rail is to speed up journey times, cutting down on the time it takes for Fylde commuters to travel to Preston and vice versa also makes a great deal of sense.

To that end I raised the matter in the House this week, urging focus on the West Coast Main Line and I plan to keep a very close watch on this situation as it progresses.

Finally I feel I cannot let this week go by without mentioning the terrible tragedy which occurred last week in Freckleton with four siblings, 19-year-old Reece Smith, his four-year-old twin sisters Holly and Ella and two-year-old brother Jordan, killed in a fire at their home.

One cannot even begin to comprehend the devastation that the family must feel at this terrible time and, I’m sure like the whole of Fylde’s community, my thoughts and prayers are with them.

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