Just as I thought summer had turned its back, as I sit here typing on Sunday it has decided to have one final fling. My flowers have turned their faces to the sun, the grass is looking lush and in need of a cut, and few clouds interrupt the sky.
And it feels, bit by bit, that normality is returning. We have run, ridden and switched on the Lights – and lengthening the season at the same time. The seafront has been busy along its length, and Victoria Road in Cleveleys has been crowded whenever I have been along it. For those of us braving foreign travel, life has still been a soup of acronyms and confusion, but familiarity will help in future for what I fear will be a feature of foreign travel for years to come. If that makes the staycation enduringly popular, then it can only be to our local benefit. My few days in Berlin opened my eyes to the extent of community covid testing there – small units all over the place offering free Lateral Flow Tests, so many it was hard to miss them, and you quickly became accustomed to proving vaccine status and/or a negative test before going in places
Despite a cool and wet August at times, many events did take place, though not all. Amongst my summer highlights have been:
* Jointly opening “Joyce’s Garden” with Joyce’s sister in memory of a long-term resident of Pennystone Court care home in Claremont (an excellent home I’m always pleased to sing the praises of). Every time I go to open something new, I am amazed at how manager Lisa has been able to find a new plot of ground or small room to convert. It’s like Doctor Who’s Tardis.
* Met with Fylde Coast Women’s and Network Rail at Blackpool North station to publicise the ‘Rail to Refuge’ which provides free rail travel for those fleeing domestic violence. Hitherto, charities like Women’s Aid would have to subsidise that travel, so rail companies have now stepped in. I heard one example of someone coming from as far afield as Cornwall to seek refuge, and I know from my patrols with the police just how many fleeing abuse arrive at Blackpool North station. With Domestic Violence at an all time high after lockdown, never has this been a more important issue, so having a Domestic Violence Bill passing through Parliament is timely.
* Attended the service at St Mark’s in Layton to mark the end of their ‘Love Where You Live’ week of community projects across the parish, which also includes Grange Park. Their lively and enthusiastic new curate, Matthew Robinson, gave a stirring sermon that will live long in the memory. Local priests and vicars take note – you now have competition!
* Along with my neighbour Scott Benton, met with local nurses to discuss the impact of covid on local healthcare, staffing challenges and pay issues – none of them easy to solve, but all crucial.
* Visited Springfield Fuels out at Salwick ahead of a parliamentary debate on the future of the site, owner Westinghouse’s plans and the need for a proper thought-out government policy on future fuel provision for our fleet of nuclear power station. I have always argued for more high-skilled, well-paid local jobs. Springfields has a superb apprenticeship course – and also helps train apprentices for firms such as Victrex in Thornton. (PS. Whenever I hear the words ‘proper’ and ‘thought out’ in terms of government policy, my heart skips a beat!)
* Scott and I also met with Blackpool FC’s (relatively) new owner Simon Sadler to discuss the club’s plans both on pitch and off pitch. So much is being planned off the pitch, it can be easy to forget their primary purpose is Championship football. In particular, the Community Trust led by the dynamo that is Ashleigh Hackett (who I had met the previous week) continue to have a massive impact on the town, and have just opened a new school catering for students at risk of dropping out of education. The Trust are too often unsung heroes, in my view.
* Attended the unveiling of a bench at Jubilee Gardens, adjacent to Gynn Square, to mark the memory of those emergency service members who lost their lives in the course of duty, donated by paramedic Sharon Riley-Clarke.
* Was grilled by Blackpool’s Youth Parliament members on the issues that their regular meetings had thrown up as being of particular concern – from mental health to voter ID, it was (as I have come to expect) a thorough cross-examination worthy of Jeremy Paxman or Robin Day at their peak! No hiding place.
And I continue to sit haggard in front of my computer on Zoom and Teams ploughing efficiently if soullessly (at times) meeting with banks over bank closures in Cleveleys, the Pride of Place partnership’s new chair Graham Cowley who provide the engine room of Blackpool’s regeneration, the regular meetings of the Cleveleys Together town board which hope to do the same there.
But thankfully, people are ever more keen to look each other in the eye, as face-to-face meetings where possible always seem to lead to much, much more.
So my diary is filling up quickly. But if there are events you are holding between now and Christmas, whatever they are – concerts, plays, or just simple get togethers – please let me know as I like nothing more than getting out and about, and saying hello to groups old and new as we all re-emerge from our covid chrysalis.
Our mailing address is:
Paul Maynard MP
RM 11, BTMC
Blackpool, Lancashire FY2 0JW
Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can ** update your preferences ([link removed])
or ** unsubscribe from this list ([link removed])
Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp