MY WEEK IN WESTMINSTER

This week saw the anniversary of the closure of Blackpool Airport and on Tuesday I took part in a Westminster Hall debate on air passenger duty and its effect on regional airports.

I commended my colleague, Julian Knight MP, for raising such an important issue and he brought up many similar points to the ones I included in my adjournment debate when Blackpool Airport closed this time last year.

A reduction in air passenger duty for flights from smaller regional airports would, I feel, provide a level playing field for them to work on and make smaller airfields more attractive to airlines to work from.

This becomes even more important for airports in the north as decisions over air passenger duty are devolved to Scotland, where it may even be abolished, and we risk carriers moving their operations over the border.

While Blackpool Airport reopened for flights to the Isle of Man and Belfast earlier this year, I ended my contribution to the debate with a plea for airfields like Blackpool which are currently hanging on by a thread and highlighted how much of a loss they would be to our transport infrastructure at a time when aviation is booming.

I was pleased to hear from the Minister that the Government is currently carrying out a review of air passenger duty and have contacted Balfour Beatty to ensure the issues at Blackpool Airport are represented as part of that process.

The sad fact in Blackpool was that, for whatever reason, the airport was losing millions of pounds which is what resulted in its closure. That is why the Government has tried to help the situation by giving the site Enterprise Zone status, which should bring in private investment to put it on a solid financial footing and allow commercial aviation to return.

On Friday, I attended the Conservative Ladies Tea Club in St Annes and spoke to the members there about the aims and ambitions of this Government.

I am always made to feel most welcome at the tea club and it was a pleasure to attend this year to take part in a robust debate on the future of our party.

I was delighted to be able to attend a Halloween party at the home of Wrea Green councillor Frank Andrews on Sunday.

While there was certainly a party atmosphere at the event, it was also a good opportunity to speak to the local residents who attended about some of the issues currently affecting the village.

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