THIS week I was pleased to see the Justice Secretary Chris Grayling MP announce proposals that inmates in UK prisons are forced to earn privileges they receive while serving sentences.

It is an allegation constantly levelled at the Prison Service that inmates are allowed to lie in their cells all day watching satellite television or playing on games consoles. Some prisons have even been referred to as holiday camps by some of the more cynical sections of the media.

The new reforms outlined by the Ministry of Justice this week mean that to have access to entertainment inmates would need to take part in work or training, while those suffering from substance abuse issues would be required to attend treatment programmes.

If they agree to do any of those things they can be accorded some of the various small privileges already available to prisoners.

While some people may think these proposals are overly harsh I believe it is important these privileges are not considered an automatic right by prisoners but things to be earned, not just by good behaviour but by hard work and endeavour.

This week I have spent most of my time back in Fylde campaigning to get people out to vote in the local elections.

People may be surprised to hear how keen an interest Members of Parliament take in local government but we all tend to be active members of our local associations and feel it is our responsibility to get out there and pass on the aims of our candidates as people make their choice on who to vote for.

I have already been out canvassing around various parts of Fylde and have had some frank and meaningful discussions with people on their doorsteps about what they want to see from their local councillors.

Local government is vital within our democracy and those up for election to Lancashire County Council will control the budgets for many of our schools, social services, trading standards, recycling, roads, libraries and have a say over the largest portion of the council tax.

As far as the Conservative Party is concerned, I know we have some excellent candidates who are passionate about resolving issues in their local areas.

I would encourage people to make sure they know what the issues are in their area and head to the polls today to vote for the candidates who will serve them best for the next four years.

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