‘Leave’ voters had lost hope in their future
Since the EU referendum there have been a number of very positive signs for the Liberal Democrats.
Our party membership has increased, nationally and locally. We have won a significant number of local elections and in the Parliamentary election at Witney, Liberal Democrats saw their votes increase by 19 per cent, beating Labour and UKIP.
While a large number of people voted to stay, the referendum vote saw the majority of people voting to leave the EU. But maybe not everyone who voted to leave did so because of the EU.
A large number of people who voted to leave did so because they have lost hope in the future, the hope that their lives will be better.
Those voters felt anything was better than it is now – so voted for change because they could not support the current situation. Liberal Democrats recognise and acknowledge that wish for change.
The UK will leave the EU in March 2019. That gives Parliament two years to sort out the various trade deals.
But, locally, we must not waste those two years – we must deliver on the wish for change.
The austerity programme has meant councils no longer have the money to fund many of the things they would like to do. Therefore, councils must work with community groups to get done what needs to be done.
Blackpool and the surrounding areas are made up of many individual communities , each with its own identity and character.
Working together those communities can make a real difference. This can be achieved by giving everyone in those communities the opportunity to live their lives as they choose.
And by getting the existing local councils to work with those communities to improve the future of the people in their areas.
For many, the EU was seen as the reason as to why their life was as bad as it was.
Unless real steps are taken to improve their lives there is a danger that those who expect change will not get it.
It’s time to work together
The Boundary Commission has produced initial proposals for the various Parliamentary constituencies in this area.
Those proposals do not take into account the existing local council boundaries that exist for Blackpool Council, Fylde Council and Wyre Council.
These existing proposals are subject to change but if adopted, then we would see the following:
The MP for Blackpool South will have responsibility for parts of St Annes as well as Blackpool.
The MP for Blackpool North will have responsibility for parts of Wyre as well as Blackpool
The MP for Fylde will also have responsibility for parts of Wyre as well as most of what is now Fylde.
MPs need to work closely with our local councils.
Those councils need to reflect the views of the people in their areas, and MPs need to support the decisions being taken by our local councils.
But if the MP has to look after a constituency where there are two councils involved then it will not work.
I also believe the threat of the election of powerful mayors for Greater Manchester and for the Liverpool City Region will make it harder for our local councils to get themselves heard.
To counteract the influence of these two powerful mayors we need a mayor who will drive forward effective local government for us.
However I do not believe that a mayor for Lancashire will work because the area covered is just too big.
Instead we should be looking at the creation of a single local authority, that will cover geographical Fylde, from the sea to the boundaries of Preston.
If we do not work together there is a danger we will all fail our residents.
Don’t complain but volunteer
The massive reduction in the money that Blackpool Council and Lancashire County Council receive from central government has meant that groups funded by those councils have had to reduce what they can do.
As a result, throughout Blackpool and the whole of the Fylde coast there are a number of voluntary groups who are increasing what they do so as to try and make up the shortfall.
Members of these voluntary groups make up for the lack of money by willingly giving their time and energy so as to carry out work to help the people living in their local community.
While each of those volunteers gives freely of their time and energy, there is always more still to be done and there are never enough volunteers.
I would appeal to people that if something needs to be done, do not just complain about it, do something about it.
And the best way is by contacting the community groups in your area.