January has its beginning in Roman mythology coming from the name door (ianua) since January is the door to the year. I always dread stepping through that door and coming back to work. I leave my family and go back to the Westminster squabble. But I use what I have learnt over the years to lobby and argue for what is best for us all in Wyre. One such good example is the road schemes.
Our constituency is to benefit from increased Government investment in our road network, with approximately £50m set to be invested in the A585. Like me, many readers will have been caught up in traffic associated with the works at the Windy Harbour junction. I have been in touch with the Highways Agency to stress the importance of minimising disruption and have seen some improvements since. I hope this short-term inconvenience will be worth it in the long-term when congestion should be reduced. The investment in the A585 will enable the creation of a relief road which will run from the area of Windy Harbour to the River Wyre Roundabout. I have campaigned for the last 10 years for improvements the A585 to tackle the congestion. The Government has already funded work to widen the northbound carriageway of junction 32 of the M6 at the Broughton Interchange.
As some readers will know Lancashire County Council has been consulting on its budget plans. One recommendation which was put forward by officers as a potential way for the County to achieve savings, was the cutting of all subsidised bus routes. While I understand that the County has rejected the proposal on this occasion, it is clear that our subsidised bus routes could be under threat again in the future. This time last year we were facing the same prospect, with the County ultimately deciding to review contracts on subsidised routes when they came up for renewal. A number of routes within our constituency have come up for renewal since the start of last year, but the services are still operating. I have contacted the Chief Executive of the Council asking her to clarify the position and stressing the importance of our local services. I know the routes are vital to many who travel by bus to work or to access education and that they offer a life line to many older people in our community. I am outraged that while the County has been considering cutting bus services they have bought Preston Bus Station from Preston City Council. A building which at present loses £200,000 a year and comes with a minimum £6 million maintenance liability.
At the start of January I met with representatives from the PCS Union at Warbreck House. I am very concerned that some jobs currently done in the Fylde may be “devolved” to Scotland without any reciprocal work returned. I am meeting with Minister very soon to raise this matter.
Last year I visited the site on Garstang Road in Bowgreave which had been proposed for the development of 16 dwellings. I have seen a number of similar applications across the constituency, in which the developer seeks to demolish an existing dwelling in order to access the land behind. The opening created by the demolition of the existing house is often insufficient to create a safe access road as visibility can be poor. This was certainly the case with the Bowgreave application, particularly when the entrance road would have been on the brow of Bowgreave Hill. Along with local residents I objected to the planning application and in mid-January we found out that the application had been refused by Wyre Council. This was a good result.
As I write this, the application for the convenience store on the car park of The Shovels Inn in Hambleton has yet to be determined, but rest assured that I am keeping a close eye on the progress of the application.
I read that good news seems to be on the way regarding the potential re-opening of a tip in the Garstang area. I was greatly disappointed the tip was closed in 2012. In advance of a final decision being made by Lancashire County Council I met with the Leader of the Council; lobbied the Cabinet member responsible at the Council; and looked at other options (including the use of private companies and reduced opened hours) to enable the tip to remain open. I continue to raise the need for a tip in the Garstang area frequently with the County Council and am hopeful that it will reopen in some form this year. The final details have yet to be confirmed, but I will continue to press this matter.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or write to me at the House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA.