Summer Adjournment

Part of Points of Order – in the House of Commons at 4:23 pm on 22nd July 2008.

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Photo of Shona McIsaac Shona McIsaac Labour, Cleethorpes 4:23 pm, 22nd July 2008

I always love taking part in these debates, as they are one of the few opportunities that Back Benchers have to raise their constituents' concerns. In the last such debate that I took part in, I raised the matter of free travel for pensioners in my constituency. One of my local councils was restricting free travel for pensioners, but I am pleased to report to the House that pensioners in my constituency had their free travel restored on 2 June. That shows how powerful these debates are.

I also raised some fears and worries about the closure of Waltham fire station and the loss of a pump at Immingham fire station. I appealed for more time, as any closures that were to happen would have been announced in the middle of the recess. The announcement was put off but—sadly—we shall find out about the future of those fire stations on Friday. I want the fire authority to think again about the impact of the fire station closures on our communities.

One reason why I make that point is that last Christmas—I do not know whether hon. Members recall this—there was an explosion at Fred's Taxis in Immingham. Sadly, two women who worked there, Ann Mawer and Sue Barker, lost their lives. The inquest was held this week, and it recorded verdicts of accidental death as a result of the explosion, which was caused by the storage of petrol on the premises. We do not yet know what caused the petrol to ignite. I have been working with Ann's sisters to ensure that the law is better enforced, or indeed changed so that there are stricter controls on how much petrol can be stored on domestic premises and very small commercial premises of the type used by most taxi firms. We could lose a fire appliance at Immingham, where the accident took place. In light of those two tragic deaths, I am sure that Humberside fire and rescue authority will understand why people are so concerned.

Last year, Immingham was subject to flooding, and some constituents were out of their homes for more than a year. A lot of that had to do with loss adjustors and insurance firms delaying giving people the money and the go-ahead for building works. Again, the fire and rescue service was crucial in assisting many of the people who were affected by the floods, so I call on the fire and rescue authority to think again. I hope that that campaign will meet with success.

I praise the Government for announcing that there will be a water and flood management Bill. I have received a wealth of information from constituents who were affected by the floods last June, and I will forward it to Ministers so that they can see some of the suggestions that my constituents have made. Last year, there was a focus on places such as Hull, but a lot of the floods in my area were in the more rural parts of the constituency. We have to address those concerns, particularly with internal drainage boards.

I have already raised in the House the issue of the A180, and the need to get that damned noisy road resurfaced. One section has been resurfaced, and it has been announced that another section will be resurfaced. However, there is a catch: only half of it—the westbound, but not the eastbound, carriageway—will be resurfaced. Who at the Highways Agency came up with the idea of resurfacing just one side of the dual carriageway to reduce the noise? If the equipment is on site, let us do all the work. I will not stop campaigning until every section of concrete on that road is finally stripped off, and until the road is re-tarmacked.

Also on the subject of roads, I am sorry to say that in Barton-upon-Humber yesterday there was a fatal accident in which a pensioner was knocked down and killed on the crossing in the marketplace. I send my condolences to her family. Town residents have long complained about the safety aspects of the crossing. There is a lot of industry in the Humber area, and there are many heavy goods vehicles. They continue to go through small towns, market towns and villages in the area, although there is a perfectly good dual carriageway, albeit a noisy one with a concrete surface. They choose to go through the villages. Some people have told me that that is because their satnavs sometimes direct them by the shortest route, rather than by the main roads. I want something done about the number of HGVs that use towns such as Barton-upon-Humber—people say that the situation there was an accident waiting to happen—and Immingham, which I mentioned earlier. HGVs continue to thunder through the centre of that town, past schools and shops. We need to address that issue.

Another transport issue that I should like to bring to the House's attention is that of free school transport. There has been a bit of a fuss in my local area recently, as North Lincolnshire council intended to withdraw some of its free school transport, and to start means-testing those who used it. I am pleased to say that the council has changed its mind following a revolt by parents worried about the safety of their children if the free transport were not applied. North East Lincolnshire, the same council that withdrew free travel for pensioners last year, is also going to go down the road of means-testing children's transport to school. Clearly the council has seen the fuss caused in the neighbouring authority and I hope that North East Lincolnshire council, as it did with bus passes, changes its mind about removing something that is free and starting to charge for it.

Last week it was announced that North East Lincolnshire council was to receive more than £3 million from the Government to refurbish kitchens in schools. Several years ago, many of the kitchens in primary schools were removed. I am pleased that the campaign has paid off and that money will be invested in school kitchens.

While I am on my feet, like Angela Browning, I will extol the virtues of British seaside resorts. If people wish to come to Cleethorpes, we are more than happy to welcome them to our wonderful sandy beach with probably the shortest pier in the world and definitely the very best fish and chips in the world. I wish all hon. Members a good, relaxing and peaceful recess.

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