Helping residents is main role for your MP
I am often asked what the biggest issue to fill my Parliamentary mailbag is, and the answer is probably not what most people would expect.
We do have some major issues in Fylde – not least jobs, infrastructure, public transport, health services, housing and planning, the future of Blackpool Airport, flooding, shale gas development, maintaining our bustling high streets and the wellbeing of major employers.
I receive regular letters on all these subjects, and do my best to take action to try to address people’s concerns.
While I am not saying everyone will agree with the responses they receive – I certainly do not agree with every one I get back – I hope I am at least able to provide them with some feedback and help them decide how to move forward. However, the majority of correspondence an MP receives will always be surrounding constituents’ personal problems which they need help resolving.
Going back over my casework from this week alone, I have had letters from people with concerns over hospital and GP treatment, others who have seen their benefits cut and one with issues surrounding parking outside their home in Lytham.
I have also received correspondence from people with tax issues, concerns over visa applications and large numbers of letters about Lancashire County Council cutbacks and plans to build homes on a flood plain at Dowbridge in Kirkham.
In all cases I have written to the relevant authorities to raise the concerns of constituents – and in many cases added my own thoughts on the matter.
It is not just through the mail and inbox that casework comes through the door, MP surgeries are an important part of the job.
Some of the problems an MP will hear will be quite challenging or complex, while a smaller number can be harrowing or upsetting.
However, as the person elected to represent your area in Parliament, it is your duty to try to help those people who are often unable to help themselves
Quizzing transport chiefs
Since my last Politically Correct column, I have been installed as a member of the Transport Select Committee in Parliament.
Select committees are established by the House to conduct inquiries into matters of interest and to scrutinise the Government, and this important role has already seen us investigating some of the most pressing transport matters currently facing Britain.
We have twice questioned the managing director of Volkswagen UK over the emissions scandal currently affecting the company, as well as looking into the skills required of those in the road haulage sector.
We have also looked into the appropriateness of road traffic law enforcement, and commented on Government delays in announcing a decision over airport expansion in the capital.
As part of that inquiry, I recently visited Heathrow Airport, where plans for a third runway were last year recommended as the preferred option following a comprehensive consultation into the issue.
During that visit, I was further convinced that expanding Heathrow is the only option if we are to keep up with foreign competition and ensure British products are able to be easily transported to export markets.
Last week, I met with the chairman of Crossrail to discuss progress on the construction of the new railway line, which is currently being built across central London.
As Europe’s largest infrastructure project, Crossrail is vital to the continuing growth of the UK economy, and I wanted to learn more about the benefits this multi-billion pound project will deliver upon its projected opening in December 2018.
Work towards new link road
One of the most satisfying moments I have had since first being elected was when I helped secure the £2m Government funding needed to kickstart the building of the new Lytham St Annes M55 Link Road.
Since then I have instigated numerous meetings between the highways authority, Lancashire County Council, Fylde Council and the private developer involved in building the new road to get to a stage where complicated negotiations over the additional funding and construction issues are completed.
I, and my colleagues on Fylde Council, have continued to make it clear how important this project is to local people and have urged them to ensure they are doing all they can to get to a point where building can begin as soon as possible.
I know first-hand the traffic problems this issue is causing, and I would also like to see the current lane re-opened as soon as possible to help ease the burden on motorists while the new road is constructed.