I know that it has been tough for many of you these last few years, but recent figures from the independent Office for Budget Responsibility show that we are now one of the fastest growing economies in the G7 and unemployment in Wyre and Preston North has fallen by 41% since 2010. Importantly for Lancashire, manufacturing output has increased at a faster rate than for many decades. Many of the businesses which I have visited in the constituency recently are starting to invest again and I think we are all hopeful that things are looking up.
I mentioned in my last column that I was to meet your local County Councillor, John Shedwick, and others involved in the Save Our Stanah Group. That meeting has now taken place and I am determined to ensure that Wyre Planners continue to understand the inappropriate nature of the proposed development on Lambs Lane. Following that meeting I wrote to the Highways Agency asking that the Agency reinstate its opposition to the development. I have highlighted the developer’s wider aspirations to build on surrounding fields and the existing congestion problems and have urged the Highways Agency to reconsider its stance.
In January, I nominated Ruth Lowe from our constituency for a Local Public Health Hero award. Ruth does amazing work to raise awareness of Sudden Adult Death Syndrome. She has dedicated her time to promote and support the charity Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY). As part of that work she has arranged free heart screenings around Lancashire for young people in an effort to detect heart problems and prevent death from Sudden Adult Death Syndrome. I was delighted when Ruth won the award and I met her when she visited Parliament on 3 March to accept her award. We are lucky to have people like Ruth in our community and for the invaluable work they do. Find out more about Ruth’s work here: http://www.c-r-y.org.uk/ruth-lowe-2/
In March, I attended the launch of the National Apprenticeship Week with the Prime Minister at BAE Warton. I was delighted to see a number of Thornton residents in the audience. We have now trained over 2 million apprentices and I am convinced that this improvement in our skill base is helping young people with their long term employment prospects, as well as aiding British business.
The Budget was good news for young people trying to buy a home as the Government has introduced an ISA-type scheme to help those saving for a deposit, while at the same time helping savers by making the first £1000 of interest received on savings tax free. Over the last few weeks I have received numerous letters about beer duty. For the third year in a row the Government has taken a penny off a pint and duty on whisky is to be reduced by 2%. Petrol duty has been frozen again.
The Government has also lifted the personal tax-free allowance to £10,800 this year and to £11,000 the year after. The typical taxpayer will be £900 better off as a result.
Many of our Police Officers and Firefighters risk their lives to keep us safe, so I was delighted that in the Budget we have changed the rules to ensure that widows and widowers who lose their spouse while they are still working for the Police or Fire Service, will get to keep their spouse’s pension if they remarry or cohabit.
This is my last column before the General Election on Thursday 7 May. It has been an honour to serve you for the last ten years and when I am in Parliament and meet with other MPs from across the country I am incredibly proud to say that I represent Lancashire, because of what the county contributes to the United Kingdom. I am sure, you are already weary of electioneering politicians from all parties, but do please stop to say “hello” if you see me out and about.
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 email@example.com or write to me at the House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA.