Cat Smith MP Column - Cuadrilla's fracking operation on the Fylde must stop after these earth tremors
This week, the Fleetwood MP joins the calls for fracking to stop after earth tremors were detected on the Fylde, and calls for IT training for people who need to apply for Universal Credit.
At the end of last week, I met with the Fleetwood team from the Department for Work and Pensions for an update on the rollout of Universal Credit (UC). On December 5, anyone making a new benefit claim in the Fleetwood and Over Wyre area will automatically go on to Universal Credit. For everyone else currently in receipt of benefits, there will be a ‘managed migration’ process – meaning claimants will be transferred to UC sometime next year, possibly around the summertime. It’s very important that anyone transferring on to UC knows how to use a computer, as the system will be exclusively digital and you will manage your account online. If you have any concerns about this, then contact Fleetwood Job Centre (0800 169 0190) or the Citizen’s Advice Bureau (0344 245 1294). There are training programmes available. Alternatively, if you’d like to contact my office, call 01253 490440.As I’ve repeatedly reported over the last fortnight, I’m extremely concerned about the ongoing earth tremors around the Cuadrilla fracking site on Preston New Road. Today I’ve written to Secretary of State, Greg Clark at the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy asking him to stop this project before it does any more damage.
Since fracking restarted, the area has experienced 18 earth tremors, steadily increasing in seismic magnitude. Understandably, this is of great concern, and doesn’t go anywhere near reassuring local people. It couldn’t be clearer that fracking is the cause of these tremors, and is another sign of the damage that fracking does to the environment. Now is the time to call a halt to the production of harmful fossil fuels. The Government ignored Lancashire’s opposition to this destructive process. It can’t continue to ignore the damage it’s now causing. I’ve urged the Government to withdraw permission for all fracking operations as a matter of urgency and instead invest in sustainable energy resources.What a disappointment Monday’s budget statement was. We now have it confirmed the pledge to end austerity was a broken promise, like the whole budget. It’s now clear austerity is not over, the cuts to social security will continue and Philip Hammond gave no assurances that departments won’t face further cuts. Eight years of destructive austerity has damaged our economy, damaged people’s incomes and damaged our essential services. There was nothing in the budget to repair the damage to schools, the police and local councils. The money promised for UC is less than a third of the Â£7bn of social security cuts still to come, and Monday’s announcement on work allowances reverses just over half the cuts made in 2015. While hitting those most vulnerable in our society, the Tories will have handed out Â£110bn in corporate tax giveaways by the end of this Parliament. This is nothing short of immoral. The Chancellor’s announcement of “little extras” for schools was also utterly insulting when school budgets have been cut by billions and headteachers are begging parents for money. The amount he has offered is barely a tenth of the Â£3.5 billion the Tories have cut from capital funding year on year, leaving thousands of children in leaking and crumbling classrooms. Even worse, the Chancellor offered just a handful of councils less than a million pounds a year each in long-term funding for children’s services which are at breaking point, and not a single penny for Further Education or Adult Education. Yet more broken promises and missed opportunities.