Local residents turned the tables with Gordon and North West MEP Afzal Khan last Friday at a ‘listening event’ to discuss the benefits to Blackpool of being in the European Union.
Over 30 people joined them both for a discussion about "why the EU matters". But rather than hearing long speeches from the politicians, the event was designed so it was the public doing most of the talking.
First they had the chance to give their views on why the EU matters and how it could be improved, before letting the politicians respond during a Q&A session.
EU investment in the local area – including the 14m towards refurbishing Blackpool Tower – increased trade links and more jobs were all cited as major benefits of the UK being in the EU.
Gordon said: “I was pleased to welcome Afzal to Blackpool so he could see at first hand some examples of how Blackpool has and continues to gain from Britain’s EU membership. As the local MP for 18 years, I have seen the positive difference European funding has made, right across the town, on projects of all sizes.
“From support for projects to deliver online and computer skills to disadvantaged residents to contributing to major projects that have been landmarks in Blackpool’s regeneration, such as the extension of the Headlands and the acquisition agreement which brought the Tower and Winter Gardens into municipal ownership and the renewal that has and continues to take place.”
He added: “Our discussion on why the EU matters was a very informative one with a broad range of issues covered, including Transport, the Environment and also Freedom of Movement.
"It has given myself and Afzal a lot to think about – firstly how we can continue to make the positive case for Britain staying in the EU, but additionally look at ways in which Britain’s relationship can improve so we can secure an even better deal for people living in Blackpool and across the North West.”
Following the event, Afzal said: “This was a fantastic event and it was great to see so many people turn out on a Friday night to talk about the benefits of the European Union.
"Being in the EU brings huge advantages to Blackpool and the whole of the North West, including crucial investment in things like the Winter Gardens and Blackpool Tower and the thousands of jobs which come from increased trade with the EU."
However people at the event did say they'd like to see a more transparent EU.
He commented: “I’m not surprised that people were saying they wanted the EU to be more transparent. With the Parliament being so far away it can sometimes be difficult for people to find out about all the good work that is being done. I want to change that and hopefully by holding more public events like this one I can break down the barriers and bring the EU closer to people across the North West.”
The event ‘Why the EU matters’ was held at St Johns The Evangelist, Cedar Square on December 4th.