A really busy week, so little preamble – so much to fit in, there will be a bonus extra edition mid-week! And read on if you’re concerned about the A585 and had a letter this week – some good news further down.
Last Sunday was very much a Cleveleys day. The Gods smiled, and the sun shone, on the Classic Car Show along Victoria Road. I haven’t seen the road as thronged since last year’s inaugural event, and it really is a tribute to the small group of volunteers who put tireless effort into putting it on – John Protheroe, Paul Wilcock, Michael Payne and others I will no doubt offend by not mentioning. Shops that don’t normally open had a booming Sunday, and it brings people to the town who might not otherwise come, and who might feel inclined to come back at another date. It provides an important counterpoint to the narrative of Cleveleys’ decline – the town is changing, certainly, and new challenges are appearing. I will be looking to work closely with Wyre Council to ensure we deliver the best support package we can to the festival.
Luckily (for me at least), my next appointment was literally round the corner at St Andrew’s where Rev Ward hosted the Civic Sunday service for Wyre’s new mayor (and Jubilee ward councillor) John Hodgkinson, which is a much-deserved honour. It is hard work being a mayor – the diary gets even fuller than mine does, I reckon – but they are often a recognition of many, many years of public service. I always make a point of attending them as the purpose is to bring together the civic life of the borough, of which an MP is an important part, whatever the politics.
Down in Parliament, I spoke in a debate on how Parliament specifically should be commemorating the forthcoming World War One centenary. You would not know it from TV, but surrounding the chamber are the heraldic shields of those Members of Parliament who lost their lives in the two World Wars. Shields also commemorate Airey Neave and Ian Gow – who lost their lives to IRA bombers. We can easily overlook the predecessors who made much greater sacrifices than any current MP has made. Parliament made a great fuss over its Parliamentary Olympians last year – and rightly so – so I made the point in my 4-minute speech that I hoped Parliament could honour its fallen in the way it honoured its sporting triumphs. My brief contribution can be read
Another important event down in Westminster was a gathering of North West MPs who met with the North West Business Leadership Team – large corporate businesses who are driving the region’s economic growth. They pinpointed the two key factors I’m always highlighting locally – growth depends on the right skills mix and the right infrastructure. NWBLT’s website is atwww.nwblt.com and worth a look to see the economic issues from a regional rather than either a Fylde Coast or Lancashire perspective. There is always plenty to learn from dynamic cities like Manchester and Liverpool, and we need to be open and receptive to new ideas. This week’s meeting was about my pet topic of transport, and were considering their draft transport report, so one weekend job is for me to write my response to it!
The importance of infrastructure to economic growth is why I’ve dug in to trying to make sure Network Rail’s decision – temporary, I hope – not to grant Virgin permission to run two trains a day to Blackpool. It’s a non-sensical decision, as Network Rail claim that there isn’t room on the tracks. This makes no sense, as the Blackpool services are existing Lancaster services being re-routed, so they already have a ‘path’ on the West Coast Main Line. I suspect this is all about Network Rail’s own problems currently with the Office for Rail Regulation about them hitting their targets – I’m asking the Transport Secretary to bang some heads together.
Up in Cleveleys, I had areally important site meeting Friday morning with the Highways Agency on the A585. Arranged a few weeks ago to discuss the proposals to change the road layout near West Drive, I was incredibly disappointed residents received a letter from Enterprise Mouchel about the plans before we had a chance to persuade the Highways Agency of the problems with the plans. Anyone who had an Enterprise Mouchel letter will be hearing from me over the course of the next week about the outcome, but in summary, it looks as though the ban on right-hand turns into West Drive won’t now occur, which avoids the creation of new rat runs. The meeting was also a useful chance to raise signage issues on the A585, the prospects for improvements at Singleton Crossroads, as well as discuss some new avenues I can pursue in lobbying to reduce traffic levels on Bourne Way by using the Eros Roundabout as the ‘entrance’ and Bourne Way as the exit. One of my primary concerns is to increase the availability of sustainable employment in the local area. The growth of Hillhouse will create local job opportunities, benefitting the whole community, and I believe this is a good thing. One consequence of this will be traffic – though not necessarily HGVs. The burden of such traffic must be equally spread around our local communities, just as the economic growth will be. It’s hard to encompass everything in this newsletter, so email me for further information! I will also try and put the residents’ letter on my websitewww.paulmaynard.co.uk and Facebook page.
Later that day, I had my first meeting with the new Chief Executive at the Vic, Gary Doherty. We had a wide-ranging and constructive meeting about the impending Keogh Review team’s visit, which we both hope will be a productive exploration of the local health economy. We also had a lengthy discussion about A&E capacity locally. I am sure many residents are concerned at what they have heard in the news, but I was reassured to hear that Blackpool A&E is meeting its quarterly targets. There’s no argument that the numbers using A&E are rising inexorably, but the reasons are perhaps more complex than is sometimes presented, and the times it which delays can occur often also vary. With a good Urgent Care centre at the Vic, triage can make sure people get the right level of care that bit sooner, and that can ensure people have greater confidence in using some of the alternative routes to care besides A&E. I know the hospital and CCG are working hard to make sure we all get the right care in the right place, first time round.
Finally, in this slightly long edition, I spent a good session outside the RBS in the centre of Cleveleys canvassing views on how we might improve the pedestrian crossing over the tramtracks there. It’s far too tight for those with pushchairs, wheelchairs, or disability scooters. I feel another site visit with the County Council coming on! An afternoon was then spent in Grange Park talking to local residents and delivering my ward newsletter along with my campaign team – a copy of that leaflet will be up on the Facebook page soon!
Thankfully the weather stayed dry, and we got the vast bulk out, with plenty of positive feedback already.
You’ll get another of these mid-week, I have so much to write about!