It has been wonderful to return to Westminster following Parliamentary recess and, aside from my Parliamentary duties, this week has seen a theme of community running through events. We in Fylde are fortunate to have a particularly strong sense of community, with a whole host of fantastic grassroots groups who make a real difference in towns and villages across Fylde.
A great example of this was the launch of this year’s Great British Spring Clean, which gave me the chance to meet with those who help co-ordinate the campaign and discuss their work. Although a nationwide campaign, it is the efforts of those on the ground who make it a reality. Every year volunteers across Fylde play their part, giving up their time to ensure that our beaches and green spaces are clean and tidy and ready for us to enjoy as the weather improves. I hope to have the opportunity to join local volunteers during the main campaign, which takes place from 17th March to 2nd April.
On Tuesday, Historic England hosted an event to celebrating England’s Historic High Streets. Kirkham was selected as one of 60 High Streets to receive Government funding through the Heritage Action Scheme programme, and I recently wrote of my delight at the launch of the Kirkham Futures project.
Work is underway to improve the town centre’s layout and accessibility and, of equal importance, is the restoration work that will emphasise Kirkham’s historic buildings and communal heritage. Appearance can so often be the key to building a sense of local pride and I am pleased that Kirkham’s Shop frontages, for example, are being revitalised and their historic features enhanced, restoring much of the town centre to how it would have looked prior to the First World War.
This work is already underway and, at the heart of this is the Hillside building, a Grade II listed building originally serving as a school, which is being renovated and will become a community hub providing training courses in heritage-based construction techniques and eco skills.
This week also marks one year since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. From the outset the United Kingdom has stood shoulder to shoulder with the Ukrainian people in resisting the Russian offensive and working to ensure that the Kremlin does not get away with the atrocious violence and destruction it has wreaked. Their efforts have been heroic, and this country’s commitment is unwavering, something that the Prime Minister has reaffirmed as we enter the war’s second year.
But as is so often the case in war, its impacts are not confined merely to the front line. With cities across the country bombarded civilians have been caught up in the tragedy. Many of the Ukrainian families forced to flee the barbaric invasion and occupation of their homeland sought safety in the UK and I am proud of the way that Fylde residents responded and played their part in the Government’s Homes for Ukraine scheme.
One year on, that these families have been able to rebuild their lives here, with many now moving on from their host families to find their own homes is a testament to the welcome and support our community was able to give and I wanted to extend my particular thanks to the sponsors who selflessly opened their homes to others.