It was great to see so many people out and about at the weekend enjoying events being held in our local communities. The St Annes Food and Drink Festival and the Fairhaven Lake Open Day both saw brilliant turnouts, helping kick start what I hope will be a busy spring and summer season in Fylde and providing a boost for businesses.
The Food and Drink festival provided a showcase for many of our hospitality operators who continue to need a helping hand following what has undoubtedly been a challenging few years. The tastings and demonstrations went down particularly well and I hope will have generated a good deal of additional business across the opening weekend of the Easter break. I am very much looking forward to seeing the Fylde events calendar back at its packed best this summer and know our communities are ready to welcome visitors with open arms.
Also being welcomed here in Fylde are those fleeing the conflict in Ukraine. I am pleased to learn so many families have offered to house refugees under the Government’s Homes for Ukraine scheme which opened last month. Fylde continues to demonstrate its incredible generosity in the face of such unprecedented events. The first visas under this innovative scheme are now being issued. I have asked the Refugees Minister to ensure, wherever possible, families from Ukraine are able to travel to the UK together and to provide any assistance to sponsors and applicants where it might be required.
Events in Ukraine continue to shock and appal us all. The Prime Minister’s visit to Kyiv over the weekend was a show of solidarity with the Ukranian people. Events like the massacre in Bucha demonstrate why we must continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with our Ukranian friends in the face of such unwarranted aggression. Having visited Bosnia and the site of atrocities there and spoken with survivors I know only too well the long-term traumas such tragic events leave behind them. We must not allow them to be forgotten or go unpunished.
The conflict in Ukraine is one of the factors driving higher costs and focusing our minds on future energy security. With that in mind I very much welcome the Government’s new Energy Strategy, unveiled last week, which placed the focus firmly on accelerating the development of new UK nuclear capacity and renewables. Both have the potential to drive jobs, skills and innovation here in Fylde, not least at Springfields which, as the UK’s only civil nuclear fuels manufacturing site is set to have a huge role to play. That is why it is important the Government does all it can to safeguard the plant and its workforce, to ensure it is ready to serve the next generation of UK nuclear power stations.