We need assurances that fracking will not be imposed on communities in Lancashire | Afrasiab Anwar column

After four days of keeping a low profile and escaping public scrutiny, the prime minister finally appeared on local radio stations across the country last week.
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Her advisors probably saw it as a way of easing her back into public consciousness. If that was the case, they were in for a shock. They underestimated the honesty, integrity, and professionalism of local radio presenters.

The prime minister faced tough questions on the budget and on local issues.

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After insisting that she was not for turning, she realised that the controversial decision to cut the higher rate of tax faced opposition from her own backbenchers and wouldn’t get through parliament. A swift U-turn followed, and she went on to declare that her cabinet was not made aware of the policy and that it was a decision taken by the chancellor alone. Make of that what you will.

Pressure is now building on the government to ensure that those on lowest incomes are supported, and benefits see a rise in line with inflation – a promise made by the former prime minister.

Liz Truss does not want to commit and appears to prefer asking the poorest to pay for her tax cuts by raising benefits in line with earnings instead. This will make those affected hundreds of pounds worse off.

Whether we see another U-turn remains to be seen, but one thing is clear – this government is out of touch. A prime example being the Conservative party chairman from neighboring Rossendale quoted as saying "People know that when their bills arrive, they can either cut their consumption or they can get a higher salary, higher wages, go out there and get that new job". Let's hope the good people of Rossendale help him look for a new job after the next general election.

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Whilst on Radio Lancashire, Liz Truss was also asked for her views on fracking, an issue that is very important to the people of Lancashire. Many in Lancashire thought we had seen the back of fracking when it was banned in 2019, following tremors across the area because of drilling at the Preston New Road site. So, the thought of seeing a return of Cuadrilla is not only disappointing but an act of desperation in response to the energy crisis.

They should be prioritising investment in renewable energy over dangerous shale gas extraction. We all want to see a real, positive energy policy that will address the climate crisis and bring about net zero.

There is still limited understanding of the impacts of fracking, and little has changed since the 2019 moratorium. The Tories, seem to have forgotten their manifesto pledge of 2019 of not supporting fracking unless it is done safely.

We need assurances that fracking will not be imposed on communities in Lancashire without local support. It is not supported by Lancashire communities or local government. The message from Lancashire is very clear.