Fight for better transport, jobs for the young – and Fleetwood’s barrage project.
That’s the message from the port’s newly elected Labour MP, who has vowed to keep battling for Fleetwood.
Locally, we have had a celebration, we won every seat at council level in Fleetwood and we have delivered what we set out to achieve, but nationally it was terrible
Cat Smith MP says a lack of jobs and better transport links are top priorities and has promised to keep up the pressure to ensure Fleetwood gets the best deal possible.
Ms Smith, a former policy worker for a social work company, who lives in Lancaster, won the marginal Lancaster and Fleetwood seat at last Thursday’s General Election following a tense night which involved a bundle recount.
She turned a 333 Labour deficit into a 1,265 vote win in the constituency, ousting Conservative Eric Ollerenshaw after a long campaign which saw countless high-flying Westminster politicians from both sides of the House appearing in the area pre-election.
Although delighted to win the seat, she said it was a bittersweet feeling considering the national picture for the Labour Party.
Ms Smith told The Gazette: “Locally, we have had a celebration, we won every seat at council level in Fleetwood and we have delivered what we set out to achieve, but nationally it was terrible.
“I am personally delighted that two years of walking the streets of Fleetwood has paid off.
“During the campaign the concerns which have consistently surfaced are jobs and transport links in Fleetwood.
“There are a lot of really talented young people in Fleetwood who want to work but need jobs.
“I am fully behind the barrage project and campaigning for better transport links, including the A585, and that is what I will be fighting for.
“The result was more decisive than that in 2010 with a larger majority and I think that came from a combination of factors.
“I was an early candidate in 2013 and that has given me two years of campaigning, meeting people and for them to get to know me as well. I think that was an advantage.
“I also had a really supportive local Labour Party who have come out rain or shine to help.
“I have a clear political message, too. I don’t always agree with the party, for instance I unapologetically oppose fracking and I think that has had some influence as well.”
As Ms Smith, 29, headed down to the House of Commons for her first day at the office and training, she admitted she was nervous and anxious, just like the first day of any new job.
She added: “It’s exciting but I’m nervous, it’s the first day of a new job and I have two training days to attend.
“But I am very aware of the pressure from 60,000 people to do a job and I will represent people regardless of how they voted.
“I really want to thank people for their votes, especially those voting for the first time.
“They have put their trust in me and I will work as hard as I can.”
Ms Smith said a constituency office would be set up in Fleetwood as soon as the right premises became available.
She was also looking forward to meeting Labour Party members at their next meeting in Fleetwood this week and said she would be attending Fleetwood Town’s FC’s family fun day on Saturday.
Eric Ollerenshaw, who held the seat since May 2010, was unavailable for comment.