MY WEEK IN WESTMINSTER

Cllr Peter Anthony, Robin Osterley and Mark Menzies MP

This week I met with Robin Osterley, the Chief Executive of the Charity Retail Association, in Lytham, as part of my ongoing campaign to stop the proliferation of charity shops on Britain’s high streets.

I was joined by Councillor Peter Anthony, who understands the significance of this issue, having run a shop in the centre of the town for several years.

Mr Osterley and I agree on the value of charity shops, which each raise thousands of pounds a year for good causes and provide an important community space for local shoppers and volunteers.

However, I wanted to introduce him to local shop owners so that he could understand their concerns that there are too many charity shops in Lytham, benefitting from highly favourable tax breaks, giving them an unfair advantage in renting prime locations on the high street.

After his visit, I was pleased that Mr Osterley acknowledged that Lytham’s high street should be largely made up of independent businesses and that these should be better supported.

I think that the Government must do more to ensure that small, independent businesses are given priority over charity shops to take up leases on high street property and I will continue to pursue this issue in Parliament.

On Sunday the Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, met with his counterparts from France, the US and the Gulf States in London to discuss plans to impose a no-bombing zone over Syria, a move which I welcome.

It is true, as the Foreign Secretary said after the meeting, that there is no appetite within Parliament to deploy troops on the ground in Syria.

It is equally true that we cannot turn away, allowing Russia and the Syrian regime free reign to conduct indiscriminate aerial bombardments – we must take urgent action to prevent the bombing of innocent civilians.

On Friday I saw Marton Operatic’s excellent production of HMS Pinafore at Lowther Pavilion, where it was great to see the results of the first stage of upgrades to the Pavilion’s seating.

It was also good to hear from the R.N.L.I. on how fundraising is going in their appeal to raise £275,000 towards a new life boat.

Finally, I was delighted to see that AFC Fylde won again on Saturday, keeping them top of the National League North.

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