MY WEEK IN WESTMINSTER

I was disappointed this week to hear that Blackpool International Airport could be on the verge of closure due to the operator being unable to sell the business to an appropriate buyer.

I recently met with the airport’s managing director to discuss the issues currently faced by the hub and had hoped Balfour Beatty would be able to find a company which could take the airport on and make it more profitable and viable.

I offered to do all I could to represent the airport’s interests and have written to the Chancellor and the Secretary of State for Transport calling for the Government to sharply reduce Air Passenger Duty for flights operating from smaller regional airports to make them more attractive to airlines.

However, I also made it clear that under no circumstances would I support this land being sold for commercial or residential development.

Airport runways are strategic national assets and should be protected, which is something I set out in my letters to the ministers.

Blackpool is the third biggest airport in the North West and, with the correct support, could provide the area with endless opportunities to grow local business and tourism, with a working runway becoming increasingly important for the area’s connectivity to the rest of the UK and Europe.

Conference season is currently in full swing and as I write this the Conservative Party Conference is taking place in Birmingham.

There have certainly been some interesting announcements by the party around policies it intends to bring in if elected to Government at May’s General Election.

One of the most important announcements was the promise that the next Conservative government would ensure everyone has access to a GP seven days a week by 2020.

I regularly receive correspondence concerning doctors appointments and I know how important it is for people to feel that they can see a GP as soon as possible whenever they need to.

I was also pleased with the announcement to abolish the 55 per cent tax on pension pots from April 2015, the latest in an excellent series of Government measures to help pensioners.

Freedom for people’s pensions, a pension tax abolished, and passing on your pension tax-free: these all mean people who have worked and saved all their lives will have the financial independence and security to enjoy their retirement, and be able to pass more on to their children and grandchildren.

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