Dentistry remains a real concern for me. Last summer I met with the Lancashire & South Cumbria Local Dental Committee who painted a bleak picture of a system in need of major reform, resulting in many dentists ceasing to offer NHS services. The repercussions are being felt by Fylde residents and I have been alarmed by the number of people unable to find an NHS dentist in our area, with some being offered appointments in Hambleton, Blackburn and even as far afield as Skelmersdale and Liverpool.
From further conversations with the Dentistry Committee, it is clear that the industry is feeling the strain as much as patients. Funding and flexibility issues dating back to the 2006 Dental Contract not only remain but have been exacerbated by rising costs that have not been matched by increases in the unit funding paid to practices for the work they do.
I am worried about the long-term impacts of failing to tackle this subject, with no Government, of any political persuasion, having done so in the past 17 years and I am determined to see that change.
This week I raised the need for a financial overhaul of the Dentistry Contract with the Secretary of State for Health & Social Care during Parliamentary Questions, following this up with a meeting with the British Dental Association.
Congratulations to Zen Restaurant who were crowned ‘Best Asian Establishment’ at this year’s Food England Awards. Nominated and voted on by the public, this is just the latest award for the Wood Street based restaurant, who were also winners in the Best Northern Restaurant at the Asian Food Awards earlier this year.
It is wonderful to see the business’ continued success, testament to the efforts of owners Andy and Alex, and the whole Zen team. It is also a reminder of the flourishing independent hospitality sector we have here in Fylde, and in St Annes in particular, with fantastic businesses located both on the Square itself and across the town centre.
On that topic, I am a determined champion of small business, and one of my favourite things about living in Fylde is its entrepreneurial spirit. I am proud to meet and work with the countless small businesses we have here, representing them in Parliament, and it is always special to visit a newly opened shop, cafe, restaurant, or manufacturer.
I am delighted to be launching a new award that recognises the fantastic contribution small businesses make to our local community, driving our economy and helping our town centres thrive.
Nominations close at the end of October, with the winners selected by online vote after that. If you are a business owner, or want to nominate your favourite local business, you can do this online via https://www.markmenzies.org.uk/fba. Best of luck!