MY WEEK IN WESTMINSTER

THIS week I attended a meeting with Hewlett Packard at the former civil service site in St Annes where staff are concerned about possible redundancies.

I wanted to visit workers at the site as I have received a number of letters from people based at Moorland Road who are uncertain about their future employment.

I understand that the current round of redundancies being discussed by Hewlett Packard is attached to the finalisation of certain contracts which means that unfortunately there will be a drop in numbers at the site. I spoke to the management team who said they hoped that many of those working on the contracts which were coming to an end could be transferred to other roles within the Department for Work and Pensions.

They also assured me that they were committed to the site in St Annes until the latter part of the decade and I agreed to speak to the Work and Pensions Secretary, Iain Duncan Smith MP, about the lack of certainty surrounding department contracts, which members of staff had raised with me.

I also said that I would do all I can to support the company in any bids for Government contracts to keep those jobs in Fylde.

On Friday I held two separate meetings with residents from Roseacre, Treales and Wharles about potential plans for a shale gas exploration site at Roseacre Wood.

If the site receives planning permission from Lancashire County Council, I wanted to assure local people I would be doing all I can at Government level to ensure the process is properly regulated while giving them my full support to make sure that the site would have as minimal an impact as possible on the surrounding area.

This weekend, I was informed the Department of Communities and Local Government had decided to call in a decision to give planning permission to a travellers site in Newton.

I originally asked the department to reconsider this application due to recent changes in legislation regarding these types of sites and am pleased the decision will be looked at again by the Minister.

It is unlikely to come as a surprise to the readers of this column that I have been going through an extremely difficult period in my private life recently, but the comments of support I have received from friends, colleagues and constituents since the weekend have been deeply moving.

People may never know how much their words of support and friendship, including from many people that I have never met, have meant to me and I thank them from the bottom of my heart.

I now need a period of stability to rebuild my private life and continue to focus on helping constituents with the many serious issues they face.

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