From Paul Maynard MP <[email protected]>
Subject Paul Maynard MP's Letter from Westminster
Date January 27, 2020 5:00 PM
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Dear friend,

A new Parliament is always a bit like visiting a zoo, peering carefully at the animals and trying to work out where they are amidst the foliage. The army of “doorkeepers” who keep us safe and sound do an excellent job and will greet every new MP by name having learnt them in the first 24 hours – lesser mortals such as myself are keeping on trying, and making slow progress.

One handy help is a printed guide the House authorities publish full of headshots of new members with their names and constituencies. I have taken to surreptitiously carrying it round in my pocket and consulting it to either test myself or work out who an as yet unknown colleague is. This works well if their picture is broadly accurate – but a differing hairstyle or an out-of-date picture born out of vanity can make identification very tricky. One colleague, my new colleague for Redcar Jacob Young, is pictured wearing the white hard hat he has worn as part of his job as a chemical engineer. Of course, he doesn’t wander round Parliament in such a hard hat, so I still have no idea what he looks like …

One colleague is easier to recognise than the rest as he is my new colleague for Blackpool South, Scott Benton. As part of the new ‘blue duo’ for the town, I think our collaboration is already starting to change the dynamic with key decision makers across town – and I will always make a point of highlighting his contribution to positive change in Blackpool. Scott was able to make his Maiden Speech last Thursday – you can read it at [link removed] – which is always both a nerve-wracking and momentous moment.

Equally nerve-wracking for me has been appearing on Radio 4’s No Triumph, No Tragedy which ‘profiled’ me via an interview. I agreed to do it in the immediate aftermath of the election when I was feeling quite positive about things – but am not sure now! Judge for yourself if you have a spare 28 minutes, as the show is still at [link removed].

In terms of the actual business of Parliament, the main focus has been completing the lengthy debates on the Queen’s Speech, and then focusing on getting our legislative framework ‘Brexit-ready’ by ensuring the Withdrawal Act was passed and the documents signed. There was many a time I doubted the PM of the day would ever be able to apply a signature to that document – and it is with massive satisfaction I saw the photos last week. The last hurdle will be surmounted at 11pm this coming Friday – a night to remember.

With my Ministerial hat on, I have had a busy few weeks also. Whilst there is no official government decision on HS2 quite yet – not too far off – there is plenty for me as Minister for Major Rail Projects to focus on, not least progressing all the other projects across the country which will come to fruition well before HS2! As Aviation Minister, I have had even more filling my diary due to the challenges domestic airline Flybe has been experiencing. One important part of the response has been to launch a review of regional airports – something I had been planning anyway – so I have been out and about quite a lot visiting various airports to listen. Naturally, the example of Blackpool Airport sits front and centre of my own approach to this issue when I am discussing with my officials.

I am keen to do all I can to make these airports more resilient, so hope I get to chance to stay in the role long enough to finish the project! And thoughts inevitably turn to reshuffles, as one is due post-Brexit. I get a little more sanguine each time as you realise logic or ability plays no role in where you re-emerge. I have seen many rise higher than me, at a much faster rate, only for their careers to evaporate overnight. I am also always conscious that being an MP for Blackpool North & Cleveleys is always the main act – and the Ministerial role the icing on the cake. Ministers can always make a big difference more easily than backbenchers can, but from my own time as a backbencher, I know the satisfaction when my pester power paid off!

Constituency life has roared back into action – interspersed with a couple of half days of inactivity as I went under the dentist’s knife in Cleveleys for some root canal treatment. The treatment procedure started the day before the General Election – and was actually less painful than getting through election day itself!

Amongst the highlights have been meeting the group establishing a Men’s Shed which are a growing phenomenon across the country where men (of any age) can find purposeful companionship. There are clear benefits for physical and mental health through reducing isolation – and the Sheds are incredibly effective. The new one in Cleveleys is focusing on ‘woodworking’. There is also one already not far from my office on Faraday Way. You can find much more at – I know new members are always welcome.

I also enjoyed a productive visit to Anchorsholme Academy to meet head Graeme Dow, discussing his own perspectives on school funding. I have been pleased to see significant increases for every school in the constituency in the latest set of figures – with those schools previously amongst the lowest funded seeing 7.5% increases in per pupil funding as the minimum per pupil rises to £3,750 for primary pupils, and schools much lower than that play catch up. School funding formulas remain extremely complex, but these minimum floors are starting to have a real impact alongside overall increases for the area. We also had a good and challenging discussion with Anchorsholme’s head girl and boy – who certainly seem to have a career in politics ahead of them given their powers of argument!

Lastly, I was pleased to make a donation to my two Conservative Clubs in Claremont and Bispham of a framed official portrait of the Prime Minister for display purposes in the clubs. Let us hope he lasts a long while and I don’t need to repeat the gesture too soon!

For those of you who supported Brexit, I hope you enjoy marking the day, even if Big Ben doesn’t bong after all. It has been a long time coming, I know, and marks a significant caesura in our nation’s history. How fundamental only time can tell – histories of periods of British history never use 1973 (date of EU entry) as a hinge, preferring 1945-1979. But will it now be 1979-2019?

Once it is accomplished, I know the Government will need to focus not just on our future relationship with the EU but the very many other massively important issues that we were elected to address also. There is an immense amount of work to do, and a very different parliamentary party, with a distinct ‘northern’ flavour, now ready and keen to deliver.

Kind regards,

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

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