MY WEEK IN WESTMINSTER

EVERY week, I read with interest the local news found in the Lytham St Annes Express.

And each and every time I look through the paper – as well as its sister publication the Blackpool Gazette, which also carries news of the Fylde – I’m regularly impressed by the depth and range of the coverage inside.

Last week’s newspaper was no different.

There was a shocking story about two men who had been jailed for foolishly placing drain covers on the train tracks near Lytham station, a situation which could have resulted in a much worse outcome than it did.

Inside there were the usual political wrangling from Fylde Borough and Lancashire County councils, a report on the great work by a Lytham environmental group and an update on a major project by county hall to improve one of St Annes’ busiest roads.

Flicking through, I noted with interest an article on the sand dune regeneration work to the north of my constituency, some interesting stories about local businesses and a report on Fylde’s new mayor.

The paper also carries two pages of opinion and letters which I find give a great barometer of some of the issues concerning people locally.

Sometimes the paper flags up problems I may not have heard about yet but could help with or even offers me a different perspective on a matter I may already be involved in.

I believe newspapers and the media have a duty to inform and encourage debate and think we are well served by our papers, radio stations and TV channels in the Fylde.

I am always keen to support local businesses and, at their heart, local media outlets are just that.

But they also have a duty and a responsibility many other companies do not have to contend with.

They must serve the local communities they report on with dignity and respect and at the heart of it that is what new media regulations being put in place following the recent Leveson Inquiry are aimed at protecting.

They should ensure the spirit of a free, informative and challenging press remains while making sure some of the issues which saw the inquiry launched in the first place never happen again.

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