MY WEEK IN WESTMINSTER

This week I spoke at a debate in Parliament on the subject of shale gas and made some serious points to the Energy Minister about the regulation of the industry.

This is a subject which I have raised regularly in the House of Commons and one which commands my full attention, due to the effect it could have on Fylde if two planning applications for sites at Roseacre Wood and Preston New Road are given the go-ahead by Lancashire County Council.

During the debate I outlined my disappointment that the regulatory bodies did not seem to be working as well as they should be, despite Fylde already having lived with the prospect of shale gas for five years.

I also told Matthew Hancock MP that without a cast iron regulatory regime, which should be overseen by a panel of independent experts, then gaining the public’s trust would be a difficult proposition and could scupper the Government’s plans for shale gas.

From the outset I have said that unless I am convinced these stringent regulatory functions are in place then I, and many of my colleagues, would be unable to support any exploration moving forward. I took the opportunity of this debate to remind the Minister of that.

On Monday, I was delighted to be asked to visit the state-of-the-art new mental health unit, the Harbour, on the border between Fylde and Blackpool.

Regular readers of this column will know I have been fighting to secure better mental health services for the area, particularly surrounding dementia, so I was pleased to receive a tour of the new facilities and learn about what will be on offer there.

The new unit, which will also provide 550 jobs, was at the centre of a debate as to where in Lancashire it would be located and I am pleased the Fylde coast was chosen, meaning that access to top quality services will be on people’s doorsteps.

This weekend I was invited to join Fylde Ramblers on a walk between Lytham and St Annes Pier.

It was a most pleasant way to spend a morning and I would encourage anyone with an interest in stretching their legs and getting some fresh air to consider joining one of the many official organisations locally to enjoy some of the social aspect that entails.

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