From Paul Maynard MP <[email protected]>
Subject Paul Maynard MP's Letter from Westminster
Date April 28, 2020 12:49 PM
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Dear friend,

As we enter a sixth week of lockdown, it does superficially seem that the sacrifices of many are paying off, but some patience is required yet.

You may wonder what your MP has been doing over this time. I think it fair to say I rarely stray from my computer, and I hope response rates of same day replies have been helpful in resolving complex situations quickly. My team and I have developed hitherto unknown skills as unofficial travel agents, and I have become an expert in areas I previously new little about such as the world of professional dog walking.

So complex is the guidance for differing areas, that working through practical examples with people has been a key part of what has come into us. We’ve also found ourselves trying to match people needing food deliveries with opportunities to get that food.

In short, where we’ve encountered a problem we’ve done all we can to find a solution of sorts. Sadly, that hasn’t been possible in every case. Complex scheme set up at short notice by Government don’t always achieve their goal for everyone when the detail emerges – but with a bit of lobbying, some changes to the schemes have resulted. I hope to keep on doing that, particularly now Parliament has returned.

Of course, if only for my own good, I have tried to learn to switch my computer off for a while each day just to go outside. The house has never been so clean, and the garden has probably got a lot of attention too – it is only my hair that looks increasingly unkempt and untidy!

I genuinely feel for those garden centres that have had to remain closed at a time when they do most of their business. It must frustrate them when the likes of B&Q or B&M do remain open and sell garden supplies.

It’s also saddening to see the Dutch bulldozing piles of tulips and tulip bulbs into large pits, as well as so many plant nurseries here having to destroy stock. I know how many of you are very proud of your well-tended gardens, and want to do all you can to support the sector, so let me highlight the initiative by the trade body the Horticultural Trades Association to support plant nurseries that home deliver – there are quite a few within 20 miles or so of the constituency you can find at [link removed].

I sincerely hope that garden centres are among the first to reopen, even if the same rules over queuing, social distancing and maximum numbers in the centre will need to apply. Queues may be very lengthy initially though.

Of course, more gardening means more garden waste at a time when garden waste collection has been suspended. My own patio has a large mound of tree cuttings from my unidentified but fast growing evergreen. The risk is that many start lighting bonfires, and I have had numerous complaints from those who have health conditions where their breathing is affected by neighbourhood bonfires.

There are unfortunately no laws against bonfires. Lancashire Fire & Rescue have indeed asked people not to light bonfires, but that is merely relying on good will and a sense of community.

I have asked the Council to look at the possibility of either restarting green bin collections, providing skips at community hubs, or reopening the waste recycling centre on an 'appointment only' basis, and they have promised to look into this. However, I feel only by providing an alternative disposal mechanism can we persuade people not to light bonfires or fly tip.

One of the most successful charitable events locally that probably doesn’t get the attention it deserves is the National Gardens Scheme. Although a national programme which raises money for hospices across the UK, there have been occasional “Gardens of Thornton” events in August, some of which I have been able to attend. I’ve always had half a mind to try and extend them to other parts of the constituency, but an MP’s time doesn’t lend itself to such a feat of organization, and my garden certainly isn’t worth a detour. However, at a time when we can’t go on NGS Tours, their website has some fantastic ‘virtual’ tours of popular gardens that I can really recommend to lift your spirits. Go and have a look at [link removed].

One other sadness of the current challenging times has been that VE Day’s 75^th Anniversary may pass with limited fanfare. Given the overall threat of coronavirus, I don’t think anyone would disagree that it is a necessity. But I do hope we can try to combine what would have happened on the VE Day Anniversary with what was planned for VJ Day later in the year – provided of course any restrictions by that point permit something. Ideas welcome – it would b a shame not to mark the stoicism and sacrifice of earlier generations, and maybe give some time for us to reflect on our own current difficulties.

Once again, do please try and minimize the risks, don’t assume the threat is any less – we are by no means on the downward curve yet – and please try and stay safe.

Best wishes,

Paul Maynard MP
Conservative - Blackpool North & Cleveleys
07885 651 705

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