Read my latest update on what I have been doing locally and in Westminster
Having sent a lengthy ‘thought piece’ to you all about recent events earlier in the week, I thought a user-friendly summary of what I have been getting up to might also be helpful, just in case you thought thinking was all I had been doing of late!
* Welcomed our new Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to the constituency for the first of what I hope will be many visits to Blackpool. He visited the Bispham Campus of Blackpool & Fylde College and met automotive apprentices.
* Also welcomed to Blackpool Michael Gove who has returned to his ‘levelling up’ role – he announced £40 million to relocate the courts from their current location at Bonny Street to the former Devonshire Road hospital site, thereby unlocking the final parcel of land for the Blackpool Central development.
* Led debate in the Commons on Illegal Money Lending – you can watch it at [link removed] – and you would be amazed how big a problem it is Blackpool and Cleveleys.
* Spent time in Blackpool’s A&E and Care Transfer Hub to better understand the challenges the hospital faces – as covered in the Letter from Westminster earlier in the week.
* Met with the new Chief Executive of the Integrated Care Board which now commissions most non-hospital care in the area. It’s an alphabet soup, but the ICG replaces the CCGs – but whatever they’re called, he was left in no doubt about the need to fix dentistry locally as well as the need to accelerate the delivery of new primary care facilities in Thornton.
* Met with the Chief Executive of our local Home Start charity here on the Fylde Coast to discuss the range of responses required to the area of child poverty which they focus on, as well as the general increase in the cost of living.
* Met with students at both Blackpool Sixth Form College and Blackpool & Fylde College to be grilled over current issues, but also discuss the wider role of politicians in society and as agents for change.
* Attended the Sam’s Place charity for young people with learning needs and their Christmas Extravaganza at the Plant Place in Carleton with music provided by the Park School Community Band – it’s an honour to be an ambassador for them.
* Argued the case with senior council officials and police to deliver significant upgrades to facilities at Kingscote Park. Banging some heads together has finally led to some action – I hope.
* Spoke at an event hosted by the Money & Pensions Advisory Service on improving financial resilience in the face of the cost-of-living crisis so I could re-rehearse all my arguments about using information available to the public sector to anticipate people’s needs and provide support before they hit crisis point.
* Toured CityFibre’s facilities for super-fast broadband connectivity in North Blackpool which are located on Bristol Avenue. I also learnt the adjacent electricity sub-station was actually the emergency electricity supply for the Isle of Man!
* Attended and supported plenty of concerts of late – Fleetwood & District Choral Society, Carleton Community Chorus, Capricorn Singers, Stephen Henshaw’s music school students’ concert and Blackpool’s Salvation Army Christmas Concert.
* Toured the Heritage Action Zone with Historic England looking at how Government funding for high streets is benefitting areas like Edward and Topping Streets. We had a peek at the new food court in Abingdon Market which is almost finished.
* Met with Mark Adlestone of local firm Beaverbrooks to discuss the superb commitment they have to local charities, including the Carers Centre and Trinity Hospice.
* Visited Boundary Bowling Club to look at issues around vandalism of the council-owned buildings – and I am now ‘prepping’ for a bowling club summit in the new year!
* My work on the justice committee has been focusing of late on ‘public understanding of sentencing’ and how the views of the wider public and victims are reflected in the sentences handed down by courts.
* Hosted local businesses at the Lancashire Day celebrations in Westminster, hosted by that proud Lancastrian the Speaker in his official Lodgings.
And I thought you might just like to see what my next door neighbour Scott Benton had to say in a debate we did on Blackpool & Levelling Up, it lists every single pot of money which has gone Blackpool’s way from this Government:
“Although the challenges are stark in Blackpool, it would be remiss of me not to point out the tremendous support received not only from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities but from the Government as a whole since I was elected in 2019. With your indulgence, Mrs Murray, I will read out a compelling but lengthy list of the investment that we have received in Blackpool since 2019.
We have one of the largest town deals in the country, worth 39.5 million, which has been spent on a plethora of different projects, from upgrading the illuminations to the new multiversity, with investment and jobs created at the enterprise zone and a new Revoe sports village. Only two weeks ago the Department gave Blackpool £40 million to relocate the court complex, which will allow a £300 million private sector-led development to go ahead. That creates 1,000 new jobs and pumps £75 million into the economy every single year.
Within weeks of my being elected, we received £8.6 million for the future high streets fund, which is being spent on Abingdon Street market and upgrades at the Houndshill centre. The Government are relocating 3,000 civil service jobs to Blackpool, and that will inject an ongoing £1 million into our local town centre. We have also seen £2.9 million to upgrade the winter gardens and £1 million for the high street action zone, which my hon. Friend the Member for Blackpool North ([link removed]) and Cleveleys and I saw at first hand only on Friday, and we have received £650,000 for a homes-led regeneration study of housing projects in Blackpool—a point I will touch on later.
In education spending, £10 million has been spent on the opportunity area, and there is £8.7 million of other educational investment over and above the revenue from the direct grant to schools coming into Blackpool. The Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust ([link removed]) has had £67 million of its debt written off, which means that money can now be spent on servicing patients rather than servicing a debt, and we have a brand-new £25 million upgrade to A&E occurring at the moment.
On transport, we have £20 million for electric buses, £9 million for bus and light rail projects, and £500,000 for the active travel grant. Project ADDER will receive a £1.9 million investment to tackle antisocial behaviour and serious drug crime in Blackpool, £1.1 million for the youth offending team to help get troubled youngsters off our streets, £550,000 for the safer streets fund, and £400,000 to help to address violence against women and girls—a horrific crime in our community. The Minister ([link removed]) will be pleased to hear I am nearly at the end of the list, but I hope he can indulge me slightly longer.
The culture recovery fund saw £4.8 million spent on our brilliant Blackpool Grand Theatre ([link removed]) and upgrades to the Blackpool Tower Ballroom ([link removed]) , where we saw “Strictly” only last week. There was a bid for £12 million for flood defences on our sea walls. We had £80,000 for the changing places fund, £800,000 for the rough sleeping initiative and £1.7 million for the hardship fund.
There has been £237 million of extra investment in Blackpool since I was elected at the 2019 general election ([link removed]) . If we include the support throughout the pandemic, that rises to £409 million of extra Government investment, over and above what we give to the local authority and spend on health and education, since 2019. Yet some people in the community question the Government’s commitment to levelling up and question the funding we have had. I hope those figures illustrate the tremendous support that the Government have given to Blackpool over the past few years”.
Paul Maynard MP
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