MY WEEK IN WESTMINSTER

THIS week my thoughts have once again turned to planning matters, a subject which always causes a degree of trepidation in Fylde.

It comes after the decision by the Planning Inspectorate to allow two separate housing schemes in Wrea Green, which had previously been turned down by Fylde Borough Council.

I felt that the inspector should give paramount importance to local opinion when deciding the outcome of these appeals and had written to him to put forward my case. Unfortunately, he decided to give the go-ahead to two projects in the village which went before him, while turning down two others.

Following that, I wrote to the Planning Minister Nick Boles to stress to him my belief that the wishes of the local people and decisions of the local council should be given priority in appeal decisions by the Planning Inspectorate.

This week I received a response from the Minister who said that the Government’s planning reforms were working and that 99 per cent of applications were now being decided by local councils with only one per cent overturned on appeal.

While it is good to see many planning decisions are being made locally and are rarely rescinded by the Inspectorate, that will not help people in Wrea Green and other areas of Fylde where large scale schemes are being submitted on a regular basis and I wanted to ensure the Minister is aware that this is something I will be keeping a keen eye on.

This Bank Holiday weekend once again saw people flock to the Fylde coast to enjoy the many delights on offer.

I know Lytham and St Annes were particularly busy and I recently stressed to the Secretary of State for for Culture, Media and Sport the importance of raising the profile of the North West as a tourist destination.

The Minister responded this week to say that Blackpool features heavily in recent campaigns by VisitEngland but I wanted to ensure that smaller holiday areas such as Fylde are not missed out during these national and international publicity programmes.

Tourism is a big driver of the economy locally and I was pleased to read this week that the number of passengers using Blackpool Airport, which is based in Fylde, had gone up by 27,000 this year to 262,280.

I have met with management from the airport on a number of occasions since being elected to Parliament and its success as a transport hub is extremely important, not just for this area but for the whole of Lancashire and Cumbria.

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