MY WEEK IN WESTMINSTER

FROM the reports I have heard, this weekend was one of the busiest shopping periods of the year with many proclaiming Small Business Saturday a great success.

However, I myself visited a number of shops in St Annes on Saturday and received mixed reports on how they were faring in the run up to Christmas.

We all want to live in places with bustling high streets and vibrant shopping scenes and the only way we can guarantee that will remain is to ensure we are supporting our local traders.

Hopefully projects like Small Business Saturday and Fylde Council’s decision to suspend charges at its car parks on the weekend’s running up to Christmas will help entice shoppers to spend their hard-earned money locally and provide a welcome boost to small businesses.

In Parliament, the big news this week was the Chancellor’s Autumn statement and I thought it did even more for small businesses as we attempt to pull Britain back from the financial brink.

The major package of support offered to companies of all shapes and sizes shows that the Government is serious about investing in the nation’s future.

I know the Government’s plans have received wide-spread praise from those in the business sector and I am glad they are making a difference on the ground.

On Saturday evening, I had the unusual experience of watching someone play me in a production about the history of the Ormerod Trust, the charity of which I am patron.

The performance of Ormerod Then and Now at the Lowther Pavilion Theatre saw staff and service users put on a play depicting the story of the organisation and I am sure everyone who attended would agree they did a brilliant job.

Ormerod client David Martin played the role of Mark Menzies and I thought his portrayal captured me perfectly.

The following day, I attended the fantastic performance of Handel’s Messiah at Freckleton Methodist Church where I was delighted to see my predecessor Michael Jack.

While I know Michael is enjoying his retirement, it was excellent to see him make the effort to return to Fylde for the event.

On Friday, I was honoured to be invited to officially open the new junior school at AKS in Lytham where I was reminded of my favourite quote by South African leader Nelson Mandela, who sadly passed away this week.

He said: “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” Wise words indeed.

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