This week I had the welcome opportunity to visit Weeton Primary School and to catch up with headteacher Anthony Goth. It is five years since a brand new building opened and it is encouraging to hear what had traditionally been seen as a school for army pupils has been embraced by the local community.
School places is an issue I discuss whenever I meet with headteachers and given many of our communities are growing, thanks in no small part to the scale of new housing development, it is a challenge I can see many face in the short and medium term. In some areas individual schools are already facing significant issues meeting demand and while Lancashire County Council might feel that sufficient places are available under its own definitions, I worry that things like parental choice are being compromised for administrative convenience.
Weeton faces some very specific challenges, particularly given the major developments at the barracks over the next few years. By 2027 two battalions will be based on the site, which will become the Army’s North West hub. But in the short term, which the camp undergoes development, pupil numbers will fall. I want to be reassured Lancashire County Council will provide all the necessary support to ensure Weeton Primary has the budget and the available places to meet needs when soldiers and their families return.
In Westminster I have had the opportunity, over recent weeks, to meet with a number of important organisations to hear about their campaigns and work in our communities. It is great, after two years of limited numbers in Parliament, to have such events return and I am pleased to have been able to talk with and show my support for groups like Guide Dogs and Diabetes UK. This week it was the turn of the Football Association, represented by former Newcastle and Brighton manager Chris Hughton, who was keen to tell me about investments being made in the grassroots game.
Every weekend hundreds of children here in Fylde get the chance to play sport together, supported by hard working and dedicated volunteer coaches. I know the pitches and facilities they use are far from perfect and was pleased to hear about the works going on at Common Edge, which will benefit players and clubs across the area. I am certainly keen to see what more can be achieved locally to help young people play and stay in sport and I believe it is important the FA, clubs and our local councils work together to deliver the best possible environment for children who could potentially be tomorrow’s stars.