Thornton-Cleveleys is changing, in my view for the better, but we need to ensure we conserve what is worth conserving at the same time as enabling the economic growth we are clearly starting to see. I want to make sure Cleveleys remains a place that can attract coach trips – that underpins a more diverse range of shops that otherwise might not exist – but a town centre that is also sensitive to the needs of local residents. With the development of the cinema, more now happens on the coastal strip, for example, and that changes where people walk and the businesses they pass.
Change can often be a concern. No-one really wanted to see the ‘green market’
closed down – if only because there was a perception that Poundland needed Cleveleys
more than Cleveleys needed a Poundland. For the same reason, I fought long and hard
to try to persuade Lancashire Constabulary to keep the police station open - and I’m still arguing for a shopfront location for local police where people can feel comfortable going to report crime and engage with the forces of law and order.
When things occur in Cleveleys, I try my best to get involved.
I was fortunate enough to be holding a bus surgery on the day the bus station was due to be reopened, so helped to get that sorted out. When the waters rose along Victoria Road West, creating problems for the businesses, I made a point of seeing for myself, and initiating an ongoing process to improve how we deal with the differing sorts of floods faced by the area – whether it be improving the sea defences, or making sure the gullies are properly cleaned
out on a regular basis.
Of course, Cleveleys is more than just the area around Victoria Road, and I represent a large chunk of northern Thornton as well – areas that have very differing needs. Improving economic opportunities, with well-paid and sustainable jobs, is a priority for me. And that means addressing skills gaps locally, but also improving the infrastructure – both aspects which put investors off. The A585 is a constant complaint, and progress is painfully slow, but the Government have recognised its importance as an economic artery by providing money to tackle some of the pinch-points, and work is under way to address the more complex junctions further down towards the M55. Wyre Borough Council are also developing important proposals to upgrade the road which I will be enthusiastically championing in my meetings with Government Ministers.
In the end, the best way to reduce pressure on the A585 is to ensure that local people have the skills needed to take the new jobs being created in areas such as the Hillhouse Industrial Park. Economic development is occurring in Thornton-Cleveleys – and I want constituents to be able to take advantage of that. Not all proposals are good – I remain implacably opposed to Halite – but I think the economic opportunities of shale gas are very real, provided we can reassure people about their environmental concerns. But one thing is clear, and that is that we need to ensure the pressures on housing don’t see Fleetwood merging into Thornton and Cleveleys, and on that point I am crystal clear.