MY WEEK IN WESTMINSTER

This week I met with employment minister Priti Patel MP to discuss plans for St Annes’ Jobcentre Plus.

I raised this issue with the minister after an application was put in to Fylde Council to turn the building – Westmorland House on Orchard Road – into flats.

I submitted a written Parliamentary question to the Ministers and the story was picked up by the Lytham St Annes Express, which ran it on its front page due to the importance of the issue.

The minister took on board my insistence that we retain a Jobcentre Plus in St Annes and acknowledged the importance of ensuring job seekers in Fylde have easy access to that service. While she could give no concrete assurances about the Jobcentre’s future, I know she was sympathetic to the arguments I made.

Earlier in the week I was speaking to the proprietor of the Ambience Bar and Restaurant on Henry Street in Lytham about a motorcycle ride he is undertaking from Lytham to Monaco to raise money for the local RNLI.

A keen kite-surfer, Mehmet recognised the importance of the work lifeboat volunteers do off our coastline and wants to do his bit to give something back. A worthy effort indeed.

On the topic of sea rescues, I wrote to the policing minister Mike Penning MP this week to raise my concerns over plans to close Lancashire’s Police Helicopter Base at Warton.

The police helicopter is utilised in a number of important roles across Lancashire, including suspect and missing person searches, vehicle pursuit, firearms incidents, public order operations and counter terrorism actions.

While I understand the National Police Air Service has promised the removal of the Warton base will result in no drop in services, I fail to see how the increased response times involved will not cause delays which could put people’s safety at risk. This is a particular concern in a coastal area like Fylde, where the police helicopter has been involved in numerous sea rescues.

I have now received a petition in support of Freckleton Library from local campaigners and will be presenting the document to Parliament in the coming weeks.

I have been speaking to various councillors and representatives of local campaign groups about Lancashire County Council’s plans to close local libraries in recent weeks and on Friday I also received a letter from culture minister Ed Vaizey MP who said the department was waiting to see the council’s final libraries proposal before assessing its appropriateness.

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