Blackpool South Labour Party's European Union Referendum Officer, Robert Wood has written the following piece for the Blackpool Gazette explaining why Britain should remain a member of the EU.
By Robert Wood: Examples of how EU funding have helped our beautiful town are all around us.
As summer approaches, I’m sure many of us will take full advantage of the long, sunny days and take a stroll along the Prom. As we all know, this is one of the many delights that this wonderful town has to offer. What other town can boast miles of sea front and three piers alongside them? The European Union agrees, that’s why they gave £3m to the project to improve the sea defences and re-designing the Prom.
If you don’t fancy the walk, you can hop on a tram instead. We are fortunate to have modern new trams that make the journey from South Shore to Fleetwood far smoother and quicker than the number 14 bus. However, before we could use these fine machines, we first had to upgrade the tram tracks to bring them into the 21st century. The whole process attracted £670,000 from the European Union.
European Union legislation and funding has transformed our seas too. The UK used to have some of the dirtiest waters in Europe after Tory governments in the 1980s and 90s had failed to maintain and improve the water that is all around our island. The EU decided to step in and have massively improved the cleanliness ratings of our water, including here in Blackpool. We recently were awarded the Blue Flag to recognise the advances made in our town.
Then there’s the investment the EU makes in Fylde coast businesses and support services. BAE Systems is one of the area’s largest employers and have received EU funding to help provide high skilled apprenticeships to help the town’s young people. The EU has also contributed to careers advice and adult learning programmes, helping thousands of people fulfil their aspirations and potential.
As we will all be aware by now, the scaffolding has finally been removed from our town’s most iconic building. The Blackpool Tower has now been stored to its former glory after decades of neglect at the hands of previous owners.
The Winter Gardens faced the exact same problem. But again the European Union felt Blackpool deserved better and contributed to the cost of purchasing and restoration to the tune of £14m.
We’re free to move around
Every day holiday makers leave the UK to see the many delights Europe has to offer.
Whether it be for the sun in Spain, the history in Italy or the beer in Belgium, it has never been easier to hop on a plane and see the wonders of another EU country. Thanks to our partnership with our 27 fellow states, we can travel anywhere within the EU, without a visa.
In the time it took me to write this article, I could have hopped on a train from Blackpool North directly to Manchester Airport, bought a ticket and landed in Berlin to meet a friend.
All I would need is my passport and bank card. A trip to the United States or Australia, would require months of planning and saving, but the EU allows me to see my friend in Germany at the drop of a hat. Thanks to EU laws, it is now much cheaper to call home while abroad and from next year, our contracts will cover any calls, text or data used while in Europe.
One million Brits now live in Spain. Over 300,000 live in France and the Republic of Ireland. Over 100,000 are in Germany and about 50,000 in Holland and Greece. In total there are well over 2 million Brits living in other EU states. This figure is roughly the same as the number of EU migrants living in the UK. This is what I would call controlled immigration.
According to University College London, EU migrants in this country pay on average £2 billion more a year in taxes than they claim in benefits.
They come here to work and contribute to society. This helps massively at a time when the numbers of pensioners is increasing, requiring working age people to cover their financial support.
Defend workers’ rights from Tories
Some people on the left of British politics are teaming up with the likes of UKIP and the hard right of the Tory party to support the Vote Leave campaign. But there is no truth in there being a left wing case.
The European Union guarantees every worker across the 28 member states a minimum standard in workers rights. This allows the UK to remain competitive when trying to attract big businesses to trade in this country, without the threat of neighbouring countries entering into a race to the bottom. This is what countries like the United States and Australia are doing with the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which has many features illegal under EU law.
Paid holidays, maternity and paternity leave and the working time directive, all act as a block to protect us to an extent from a Tory government preparing to go further and further with their all out attack on working people in this country. As Jeremy Corbyn said, Brexit will mean the Tories will have “a bonfire of workers rights”.