MY WEEK IN WESTMINSTER

THIS week in Parliament I have been preparing for the Westminster Hall debate which I had arranged to discuss a range of issues associated with potential shale gas extraction.

I felt it was important that MPs, particularly those who may have sites in their constituencies, were given the opportunity to delve further into the subject of payments to those living in the communities actually involved.

Should drilling go ahead, it is vitally important that the lion’s share of any benefit goes to those towns and villages which have a site within their boundaries and is not devolved further at county or regional levels, to be handed out to areas which have no involvement.

At home in the constituency last week, I hosted the first meeting of the Fylde Flood Action Group. The event saw representatives from the Environment Agency meet with members of the farming community to discuss issues with flooding and drainage in the area.

It comes after farmers said they had faced years of misery and loss of earnings due to flooded fields blighting crops and animal grazing land.

I felt it was a useful discussion but there was certainly a feeling in the air that action is needed now rather than later.

To their credit the Environment Agency seemed to realise the importance of the issue and agreed to come back with some solutions which could help in the short term, as well as a longer term plan.

It was fantastic to see Fylde enjoying the glorious weather this weekend, which I hope provided a welcome boost for the tourism industry, particularly in Lytham St Annes.

However, hot conditions often mean people heading out into the sea to enjoy a wide range of water-borne activities, which on occasions can mean more work for the emergency services.

I highlighted this during a recent appearance in the House of Commons when I asked the Transport Secretary, Patrick McLoughlin MP, what was being done to ensure people remained safe when venturing into the sea this summer.

The minister answered by saying his department works closely with many organisations to promote water safety, including HM Coastguard and the RNLI.

The continuing importance of these lifesavers to people who live by the coast was highlighted during the traditional annual Lifeboat & Fishermen’s Church Service I attended at St John’s Church in Lytham on Sunday.

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