Anger over ‘snub’ by visiting minister

Meeting anger: Coun Liz Oades,below, says energy minister Matthew Hancock, below, should not have held a private meeting with members of Fylde Conservative party at Fylde Town Hall
Meeting anger: Coun Liz Oades,below, says energy minister Matthew Hancock, below, should not have held a private meeting with members of Fylde Conservative party at Fylde Town Hall
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Councillors have revealed their anger after being snubbed from attending a private meeting with the Government’s energy minister.

MP Matthew Hancock met with members of the Fylde Conservative party – including the borough’s MP Mark Menzies – during a visit to the region last week.

Coun Liz Oades

Coun Liz Oades

After revealing Blackpool and The Fylde College is to become the national training centre for the fracking industry, Mr Hancock met Tory councillors at Fylde Town Hall.

But other elected members said they should have been invited – adding Mr Hancock should have met with those representing Little Plumpton and Roseacre – areas where shale gas exploration could take place.

Coun Liz Oades said: “I am particularly disgusted we were not told about it. It was an unofficial meeting.

“I think it is quite disgraceful. I do not know what they were talking about, but we should have been aware he was coming.

Skills minister James Matthew Hancock visits apprentice Jenny Westworth at BAE Warton.

Skills minister James Matthew Hancock visits apprentice Jenny Westworth at BAE Warton.

“I know other councillors are disappointed about it. Residents rang me asking what was going on? The fact is it was behind closed doors.”

Treales Coun Heather Speak added: “I think it is a bad job when I have residents telling me and leaving messages to say the energy minister is coming and I am unable to meet and talk to him. I knew nothing about it. I feel really disappointed in Mark Menzies.”

But Mr Menzies said councillors did raise issues with the minister about the controversial issue of shale gas extraction –otherwise known as fracking.

He added: “The councillors had serious questions which they wanted to ask the Minister and it was a fairly robust meeting.

“They shared my view that iron-clad regulation must be at the heart of any move to set up this industry in the UK, something which the Minister agreed with wholeheartedly.”

A spokesman for Fylde Council added the meeting was not a council meeting, so there was no obligation to invite other elected members.