As well as a holiday in Anglesey, I have enjoyed spending time with my family in the constituency this summer. I’ve been busy out and about meeting local residents and businesses too.
One of the biggest issues facing local residents this summer has been the requirement to boil tap water before consumption, due to the contamination of our water by the Cryptosporidium bug. I really do appreciate the difficulties and disruption this has caused to households, particularly in the preparation of cold drinks and food. I am pleased that the requirement to boil water has now been lifted across the constituency, but am angry at the length of time which United Utilities took to resolve the matter. Following my visit to the Franklaw Water Treatment Works, which I mentioned in my last column, I continued to be in regular contact with senior managers at United Utilities demanding that they ensure that the infection was eliminated and that the company increased its efforts to communicate with those affected. I pushed for compensation to be awarded and am continuing to raise concerns about some aspects of the current offer which are not acceptable.
I also spoke to the Environment Secretary, Liz Truss MP, to raise my concerns and those expressed by local residents. As a result the Government intervened to insist that United Utilities provided greater clarity to local residents, in terms of when water needed to be boiled and the progress which was being made to clear the network of the contamination.
Going forward, lessons must be learned. To do this, we need to know how the contamination was caused and I will be following closely the work of the Drinking Water Inspectorate, which is responsible for investigating. I will not hesitate to call for a full Parliamentary Inquiry, if I have any doubts about the veracity of the Inspectorate's investigation.
Over the summer, I was delighted to visit the new RSPCA Animal Centre in Stalmine. It is an impressive, state of the art animal centre, which helps to rehome animals which have been removed from their owners by RSPCA Officers due to welfare concerns. The new centre opened this summer after 10 years of planning and at a cost of just under £3 million (paid for by the generosity of donations and legacies from local people).
I also visited the British Association of Dental Nurses, which is based at Hillhouse. The BADN is the only professional association with its headquarters in Wyre. They work to protect and represent the interests of dental nurses and I will be helping them with a number of issues which they raised with me, ranging from training to taxation and pensions.
I had an enjoyable, but serious, meeting with dairy farmers from around Out Rawcliffe who are concerned about milk prices. In Westminster, I am in touch with the Farming Minister to raise their calls for stronger powers for the Grocery Adjudicator to help tackle the abuse of the supply chain by the market dominance of the supermarkets and for more help for small and medium-sized farms with regard to milk pricing, specifically collective bargaining.
I regret to inform you that the deadline for challenging the decision to grant planning permission to Halite/Canatxx for the gas storage facility under the Wyre has now passed. I understand that Halite/Canatxx has not intended to complete the construction of the facility itself and instead hopes to find a buyer. Given the level of debt the company has incurred in getting to this stage, the price they will need to achieve for the site will be significant. We will have to hope that there is no appetite to develop the site. Please be assured that I refuse to give up opposing this development. I have raised my concerns about the environmental impact with the European Commission, which still has the power to halt the development.
I know that there is a great deal of concern in Garstang regarding the proposals for the redevelopment of the Community Centre, particularly about the potential design of the new building and the removal of much needed parking. As yet no formal planning application has been submitted. I am meeting with Wyre Councillors this week to discuss the proposals and then intend to make contact with the developer, Keyworker Homes North West, to see whether I can influence the plans before an application is submitted.
Please do not hesitate to contact me if I can be of assistance to you. You can email me at email@example.com or write to me at the House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA. If you would like to book an appointment please call my Office at the House of Commons on 0207 219 5804. Alternatively, I can be contacted at my Constituency Office on 01995 672976.