MY WEEK IN WESTMINSTER

This week the Prime Minister announced that a referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union will be held on Thursday, June 23.

This historic event will see British voters given the chance to decide whether or not to walk away from an institution which has had a hand in shaping our destiny for more than 40 years.

David Cameron was in Brussels last weekend thrashing out a better deal for Britain within the EU.

I believe the Prime Minister won some key concessions during those negotiations, including around changes to migrant welfare payments, safeguards for Britain’s financial services and making it easier to block unwanted EU regulations.

As someone who represents a constituency in which many people are involved in the BAE Systems’ Eurofighter Typhoon collaboration, I am keenly aware of the economic importance of business links with the continent.

However, the ink is not yet fully dried on the Prime Minister’s agreement with Brussels and I want to take more time to consider what implications a decision to leave the EU would have for businesses and communities in Fylde.

I voted in favour of an in/out referendum on the EU because I believed it was right for the people of Fylde, and the entire United Kingdom, to make this decision.

It is a decision which should not be taken lightly so I would urge everyone to ensure they spend some time looking into how this may impact their lives and to vote as they see fit.

I have been paying close attention to the planning inquiry for two proposed shale gas exploration sites in Fylde over the past two weeks.

The original applications for the sites at Roseacre Wood and Preston New Road were dismissed by Lancashire County Council last year following a robust debate and, as a big believer in localism, I am of the opinion those decisions should be upheld, a view I have shared with the Planning Inspector and Ministers.

While there may be arguments for and against shale gas exploration, it must be remembered that these decisions must be made on planning grounds and if local people believe the sites are inappropriate then their views should be listened to.

While the Government may believe shale gas is important in ensuring the UK has a dependable energy supply for the future, it should only be considered if the appropriate regulations are in place and in areas which are suitable.

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