Over Wyre Focus - Feb 2015

It is often especially difficult for the residents of park homes to heat their homes.  Over the years, I have challenged successive governments on their policies on assisting park home residents with their heating costs.  The Warm Front Scheme and subsequently the Warm Home Discount and Green Deal did not apply to park homes.  However, I have good news to report: the Government has recently taken a number of actions which will ensure that park home owners are able to benefit in the same way as other homeowners. 

 Park home residents who are in receipt of Pension Credit will qualify for the Warm Home Discount (which was worth £140 last year) from 2015/16.  The Government’s Electricity Rebate (a non-means-tested payment which amounted to £12 last year) will also be paid to park home owners. The Government is also amending the methodology for producing Energy Performance Certificates, to enable the certificates to be available to park home residents.  These certificates are a key eligibility requirement for the Green Deal, which allows for new energy saving improvements to be made to homes (such as new heating systems).  The Government is currently working with Ofgem and suppliers to develop the most appropriate way to deliver these energy schemes to park home residents and I will keep you updated on the details as the policy is developed. 

 I recently visited the Windsor Surgery and the Kepple Lane Pharmacy at the Kepple Lane Health Centre in Garstang.  At the Surgery, I discussed with staff and GPs their concerns about the pressures on GP practices, particularly in future given the number of planning applications which have been submitted in the area.  It is vital that local services (such as GPs and schools) are supported if they are expected to cater for an increased population.  At the Kepple Lane Pharmacy, I was delighted to support to the British Heart Foundation Wear it -Beat it Campaign by taking part in a bike-a-thon in conjunction with students from Myerscough College.  The campaign is aimed at raising awareness about heart and circulatory disease.  The pharmacy is also trying to raise awareness about the support pharmacists can offer patients, such as advising patients on how to use their medication and how to treat minor symptoms.  In this way pharmacists are about to help relieve pressure on GPs and emergency departments.

 Please be assured that while I have not mentioned Canatxx/Halite in my last few columns, I have not forgotten about them!  The planning application remains under consideration by the Department for Energy and Climate Change.  I believe that, along with local residents and the Protect Wyre Group, I have put forward a strong case for the rejection of the application.  As soon as there is any update, whatsoever, I will be sure to make readers aware.

 Last month I had the pleasure of meeting Orla McShannon, the Catterall Gala Queen, and Cassidie Hannigan, the Hambleton Gala Queen, at the Houses of Parliament.  In March, I am looking forward to welcoming Isobel Jones, the Nateby Rose Queen; Laura Poulton, the Garstang Children Festival Queen; Jennifer Miller, the Calder Vale Rose Queen; and Jemima Towers, the St Michael’s on Wyre Gala Queen.  I always like to invite the Gala Queens from across the constituency (17 in total this year) to tea at the House of Commons, to thank them for their service to the community.  I think our galas are wonderful in bringing the community together and retaining the individual identity of our towns and villages.

 Have you been watching the Inside the Commons a behind-the-scenes documentary about the workings of the House of Commons?  I’ve seen a couple of episodes and would certainly recommend it.  I’m not aware that I’ve been caught on camera, but perhaps you’ll be able to spot me in the background.

Ben Wallace

Member of Parliament for Wyre and Preston North

 I hold regular surgeries, if you would like to book an appointment please call my Office at the House of Commons on 0207 219 5804.  I can also be contacted at my Constituency Office on 01995 672976, alternatively you can email me at wallaceb@parliament.uk or write to me at the House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA.