How has being part of the EU
helped us here in Blackpool?

MP Gordon Marsden
MP Gordon Marsden
Have your say

What has Europe ever done for us, is a question many people will be asking themselves in the coming months.

The perception in some quarters is the EU has done nothing but impose unwanted rules and regulations on the way we live our lives.

Paul Maynard-MP for Blackpool North and Cleveleys.

Paul Maynard-MP for Blackpool North and Cleveleys.

Blackpool however has benefitted financially - £14m of European Regional Development Funding (ERDF) went towards the £40m purchase by the council of tourism landmarks the Tower, Winter Gardens and the Golden Mile Centre in 2010.

The ERDF also contributed £3m towards the resort’s sea defences and £670,000 came from Europe towards the tram upgrade.

Down the coast at Warton, the Typhoon project, which has helped keep hundreds of people in work at BAE Systems, was developed in partnership with European partners.

Among the Fylde coast’s MPs, Labour representatives Gordon Marsden and Cat Smith are already decided about their position with both saying the country must stay in Europe.

Fleetwood MP Cat Smith

Fleetwood MP Cat Smith

They may be following the party’s national stance, but say there are strong advantages to their own constituents.

Blackpool South MP Gordon Marsden said: “The regeneration of the town, the trams and other projects have benefitted from European funding and input.

“Without that it would have been very difficult to assemble some of these projects that have brought about transformations on the seafront and enabled the takeover of the Tower and Winter Gardens.

“There is also a potential impact on jobs in the North West, particularly in defence and aerospace.

Mark Menzies

Mark Menzies

“The supply chain of companies has benefitted from pan-European co-operation over the past 15 to 20 years and from the share in the aviation market in collaboration with EU partners.

“If we put ourselves in the same position as Norway, Switzerland or Iceland, we would have to do very expensive deals and we would be out of the loop.

“There are also everyday benefits to people in Blackpool.

“We have better paternity and maternity rights and have seen an improvement in the quality of our coastal waters, all driven by Europe.”

Fylde MPs discuss their position on Europe

Fylde MPs discuss their position on Europe

Mr Marsden said he believed leaving Europe would also hamper the UK’s resistance to the threat of terrorism.

He added: “If the EU in the 1990s and early 2000s, hadn’t supported countries in central and eastern Europe to become thriving democracies, we would have had several situations like Syria and millions more migrants to deal with.”

Fleetwood and Lancaster MP Cat Smith said while Europe was ‘not perfect’, she backed staying in.

She said: “I don’t believe we get everything we want out of the EU, and I would like to see some changes to make sure it works for ordinary working people rather than just big business.

“But it is in our interests to stay in, and maternity leave and paternity and paid holidays for agency workers are among the areas where better rights have been won by being in the EU.

“Also, one of the biggest challenges is man-made global warming and to meet that challenge we have to be part of the global community.

Prime Minister David Cameron waves after delivering a speech on the European Union

Prime Minister David Cameron waves after delivering a speech on the European Union

“Europe is our biggest trade partner and if we were to come out we would have to negotiate lots of trade deals, and for businesses such as Fisherman’s Friend in Fleetwood, that would not be good.”

Fylde coast Conservative MPs Paul Maynard and Mark Menzies remain undecided on which stance they will take, with both saying they wish to scrutinise the detail carefully.

Blackpool North and Cleveleys MP Mr Maynard said: “I believe the Prime Minister has done the very best on behalf of this country in the renegotiation, and has sought to put Britain first.

“We also need to remember David Cameron and the Conservative Party were the only credible option at the last election offering to provide the British people with this historic referendum.

“This vote will have fundamental consequences for the UK for generations – and no-one needs decide one way or the other until June 23. I’m not going to issue a flat verdict one way or the other just because someone asks right now.

“As despairing as I often am at the waste of Brussels, and the need to put our national interests first, I want to fully assess what ‘out’ might look like given the wide range of options available.

“To leave means not just voting against Brussels, but also in favour of the alternative.

“We need to understand what that alternative is before we rush headlong for the exit.

“I want that alternative to be open-minded, outward-looking, committed to free trade. But it also needs to be achievable rather than pie-in-the-sky wishful thinking.

“The Prime Minister has committed to publishing an assessment of the alternatives.

“If they show the potential to improve our nation’s economy as well as giving us greater control over our borders, then they will deserve very serious consideration.

“I would urge everyone in Blackpool North and Cleveleys to engage with the campaign, to ask both sides the difficult questions, and to think carefully about what future they want for this country, and whether remaining or leaving has the best hope of realising that vision.”

Fylde MP Mark Menzies said: “As someone who represents a constituency in which many people are involved in the construction of BAE Systems’ Eurofighter Typhoon, I am keenly aware of the economic importance of business links with the continent.

“The ink is not yet fully dried on the Prime Minister’s agreement and I want to take more time to consider what implications a decision to leave the EU would have for businesses and communities in Fylde.”

He had, he said, voted in favour of an in/out referendum on the EU because: “I believed it was right for the people of Fylde, and the entire United Kingdom, to make this decision.”

Wyre and Preston North MP Ben Wallace did not respond to a request for a comment, but was re-tweeting pro-European contributions to the debate.