This year marks the 100th anniversary of the start of WWI and it is important that we commemorate this event. It is right that we should remember the sacrifices made by our brave servicemen and women and the civilians killed during the First World War.
History can also inform contemporary decisions and we should never forget the ability of mankind to wreak destruction. As a former soldier, I have my own memories of conflict and experiences of loosing friends and colleagues. This makes me even more aware of my responsibilities as a Member of Parliament to build diplomatic relations with other countries and ensure that military intervention is always the last, and never the first, response to a situation. I attended the Remembrance Service in Garstang this year, but am pleased to have been represented at services across the constituency, including the Armistice Day Service in Bilsborrow.
My family visited me in London during the school half-term and they, like many thousands of others, went to see the poppies at the Tower of London. The art installation is a fitting tribute to those who gave their lives while serving our country. The visual depiction of the 888,246 poppies, each remembering a soldier who was killed in the First World War, really highlights the scale of the loss of life, in a way that words cannot. Like the soldiers who came from across the country, now the poppies from the dismantled art work will be sent to different parts of the UK.
Turning to Over Wyre, many people contacted me to express their opposition to the planning application which was made for the development of retail premises at the Shovels Inn in Hambleton. I formally opposed the planning application on the basis of the highways issues raised by the proposal, the design of the building, the impact on the character of the development on the village and the existing businesses. The application was formally withdrawn by Punch Taverns at the start of November. I will be alert to the possibility that the applicant could submit amended plans.
With regard to Halite/Canatxx, the Energy and Climate Change Secretary is still currently reconsidering the gas storage plans. In August, I wrote in my column that the Government had commissioned an independent report of the geology of the salt caverns, by a company called Senergy. That report raised concerns about the geology and the capacity of the salt caverns. Since then Halite/Canatxx has been given the opportunity to respond to the report and Senergy has then replied to that. I am currently studying these documents closely.
I have recently met with representatives from Garstang Town Council to discuss the future of the Garstang Community Centre. As many readers will know the Centre is currently owned by Wyre Council, which has labelled it an “asset of community value”. Before any community asset can be sold, the local authority must give local groups an opportunity to raise funds to purchase the asset. The Town Council is looking at how it could secure the purchase of the Community Centre. When I met with members of the Town Council, I discussed ways they could go about this and advised them of some examples of best practice which I am aware of.
Many readers will suffer from the problem of nuisance calls. Like me the Government recognises the distress and anxiety these calls can cause. Over the past decade the number of complaints made about nuisance calls and text messages has increased substantially. Whilst there have been some penalties issued against organisations for breaking the law, in a number of cases the efforts made by the Information Commissioner’s Office to issue penalties have been frustrated by the legal requirement to demonstrate that nuisance calls and texts caused substantial damage or substantial distress. The Government is seeking views on its proposals to lower the threshold for fining companies. I would encourage you to make your views known as part of that consultation process. Further details can be found at:
www.gov.uk/government/consultations/nuisance-calls-consultation The consultation closes on 6 December.
Christmas is almost upon us! I can’t believe how quickly the last year has passed by! In the next few weeks I will be getting up early to visit the Royal Mail delivery offices in Poulton and Garstang to meet the postal workers before they go out on their delivery rounds. Christmas is one of the busiest times for the Royal Mail and these men and women ensure that all our Christmas cards and presents are delivered in time.
I wish you a very happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year.
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 email@example.com or write to me at the House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA.