Focus Article April 2019

Westminster continues to be an extremely busy place, with a great deal going on, particularly relating to Brexit. 

I am constantly updated with the views of constituents on this and other matters from many sources: emails, letters, via Facebook, over the telephone.  However, I always benefit most from the face-to-face conversations I have when I’m out in the constituency.  Meeting people in the street, the supermarket or their place of work often means I have the opportunity to speak to people who wouldn’t ever think to contact their MP.

As you know I regularly visit schools across the constituency.  Recently I visited a primary school in Goosnargh.  Taking questions from the children really brings you down to earth after a week in Parliament.  Of course, I was asked questions about the goings on in Parliament recently (the knowledge that children have these days about current affairs and the wider world always impresses me) as well as the old favourites such as whether I’ve met the Queen and if I actually know the Prime Minister.

I also had the privilege of visiting Myerscough College recently as part of National Apprenticeship Week. 

I was given a tour of the College’s equine facilities and I chatted with equine apprentices and staff.  I believe that it is vital to offer young people choices. Myerscough College does just that.  Continuing with academic studies is not for everyone and the amazing choice of subjects covered at Myerscough is outstanding.  I am a great believer in the opportunities and skills which apprenticeships can offer, but it is essential that the work-based offer must be relevant and not watered down: quality learning is everything.  It has to be mutually beneficial to both the student and employer, with a genuine prospect of work at the end.  Employers who provide quality apprenticeships also find they have the best chance of retaining staff in the long-term, making apprenticeships a good investment.

It is always good to break up the week in Westminster and I was delighted to welcome the Churchtown King, Oliver Taylor and his family to Parliament recently.  To my knowledge Oliver is the first Festival King to have been appointed in our constituency and I am grateful to him and all our Festival/Gala Queens for all the work they do.

In this part of the country flooding is never far from our minds.  I therefore recently submitted my response to the Government’s consultation on the management of water in the environment. 

The Government is proposing legislation which would require water companies to plan their long-term wastewater and drainage needs.  I’m always surprised that this isn’t already a requirement!  In my consultation response I have set out my support for measures which legally require water companies, in collaboration with local authorities and riparian owners, to put in place long-term plans for managing wastewater and ensuring that drains and highways gullies and dykes are properly maintained. 

With increased rates of housing development, failure to increase sewer capacity accordingly could result in the failure or overloading of the sewerage network.  This is an issue which is of concern to my constituents who fear their properties flooding if sewers reach capacity. 

I also believe that water companies should be required to establish the capacity of their sewerage network, the resilience of those networks and to plan for future capacity demands, such as those associated with population growth and the development of our settlements.  A statutory requirement for water companies to develop Drainage and Wastewater Management Plans and for these to be made available to the public would enable my constituents to see the water company’s investment priorities. 

On a separate, but connected matter, I noted my concern that water companies are not currently statutory consultees in the planning process.  I believe that drainage should be given greater consideration when planning applications are considered and that the views of water companies should be taken into account.

We have a new Place Based Police Inspector for Fylde and Wyre, T/Chief Inspector Chris Hardy.  I am looking forward to meeting him this week to hear about his priorities for policing in our constituency and to making him aware of the issues which are most important to me and local residents.

I was greatly saddened to learn of the passing of the former Wyre Councillor, Gordon McCann who represented the area for many yeas and was a dedicated and hard working councillor.

I continue to meet residents at my advice surgeries covering a wide range of issues. Please remember if you would like to attend one the most effective ways to contact me is by email, with a brief description of the issues you wish to raise and your contact details.  It is worth bearing in mind that I can often offer assistance without the need for a meeting.

If I can be of any assistance to you please ring my Office at the House of Commons on 0207 219 5804 or my Constituency Office on (01995) 672977, email me at wallaceb@parliament.uk or write to me at the House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA.