GORDON BIRTWISTLE (Lib-Dem MP, Burnley): £9m. new emergency unit at Burnley General Hospital

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£9m. for Burnley General Hospital

It was great to have confirmation of the £9m. investment in a new, state-of-the-art Emergency Unit at Burnley General Hospital. This is a big investment, and a big win for the people of Burnley.

When blue light emergency services was removed from Burnley General under Labour, all emergency ambulances were directed miles away to the Royal Blackburn site. You might remember the scandalous situation when someone broke their ankle in the grounds of our hospital, and was taken by ambulance to Blackburn for treatment. Now half of the ambulances are redirected to Burnley.

On top of this, we are now going to have a new £9m. unit handling emergency cases, with modern facilities and high-tech equipment – fantastic news which means many more people from Burnley will be treated in Burnley.

I am extremely grateful to everyone in Burnley who has fought for this investment. We have campaigned for this for years, collecting 35,000 signatures on a petition, and we’ve argued with numerous chief executives of the Trust. Finally we got a chief executive who saw sense. I held discussions with chief executive Mark Brearley and lobbied for funding in Government and am thrilled this has paid off. Even now the campaign doesn’t stop, and I hope you will join me in continuing to fight for more investment in our hospital and town.

You’re hired!

LAST week I had the pleasure of chairing the first All Party Parliamentary Group on Apprenticeships. I am a big supporter of apprenticeships having undertaken one in my youth – it really is a fantastic way to learn a trade.

I am pleased this Government is recognising the importance of apprenticeships and has prioritised investment in them. We’re seeing the results of this in the dramatic increase in apprenticeships completed in Burnley, up by 76% last year on the previous year. All those people who work in UK industries – from engineering to fashion to catering – appreciate the importance of having bright young apprentices who are well trained.

The new Parliamentary Group is bringing together people passionate about apprenticeships from across the Lords and Commons, as well as local government, outside organisations and even the winner of “The Apprentice” TV show.

Tax justice

DURING the week I also met representatives from charity Action Aid to learn about their tax justice campaign. It is shocking that a number of big companies worldwide are shirking their tax duties. Many companies based in Africa, with head offices in the UK, are failing to pay the tax they should, by routing a chunk of their income through sister companies in tax havens.

If we close the tax loopholes we can ensure these companies pay tax in places such as Africa – countries which need this income. Helping countries become sustainable and have a good working tax system would mean we would not need to give as much in aid and could re-route that money into our own economy.