MY WEEK IN WESTMINSTER

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THIS week I was invited to appear on the Sunday Politics show, which was filmed in the BBC’s northern headquarters at Media City in Salford.

Every time I visit the site I am impressed at how this area of brownfield land has been transformed into a thriving and developing community, filled with shops, workplaces and homes.

Despite a fire alarm in the BBC building meaning we were late starting filming, when we finally got down to business we had a lively debate on council chief executives and local planning issues.

Planning is always a tricky area for MPs because development control decisions are deliberately left in the hands of local councils, as they are primarily an area for local people.

However, on a national level the Planning Inspectorate has to work with councils to ensure they are coming up with the right kinds of Local Plans which put the correct numbers of houses in the appropriate areas.

Where housing numbers are concerned, I know there may have been a disparity between the Inspectorate and the council on this issue.

As a result I have been working closely with Fylde Borough to try to resolve this and have informed the Leader and Chief Executive that I will support them in any way I can to ensure the right decision is taken.

On Saturday, I held a street surgery in Ansdell along with local councillors Richard Redcliffe and Ben Aitken and County Councillor Tim Ashton.

It was a great way to stop and talk to people as they were going about their daily business and to discuss the issues which were of most concern to them.

As Member of Parliament I work hard to ensure I represent every part of Fylde and I hold almost weekly surgeries throughout the constituency, including one in Warton the night before.

The main topics we talked about in Ansdell included the kinds of shops people want to see on Woodlands Road, particularly what the future plans are for the Booths store, and the continuing investment in the pedestrian areas on the high street.

I think whatever replaces Booths when the store moves to new premises has to be a shop which sells fresh food and enables people to do their weekly shop locally, particularly the many older people in the area who may not have access to a car.

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