GORDON BIRTWISTLE MP: Manufacturing is the key to Burnley’s recovery

Gordon Birtwistle
Gordon Birtwistle

During the last week of the Whit recess from Parliament, I’ve been out and about in Burnley. It has been great speaking with so many people and getting lots of issues resolved. It has also been really good spending time at home with my family.

It’s great to see job vacancies in Burnley increasing. I met with Tracey Ellmore from the Jobcentre. I was really pleased to hear from her that Burnley has had one of the highest increases in job vacancies in the country – a 31% increase on this time last year.

A central way we can ensure this continues in future is to rebuild our manufacturing industry. That’s why, back in Parliament, one of my first tasks is to finalise a major manufacturing summit, which will be held in Burnley. Business Secretary Vince Cable will be the main speaker, along with the managing director of Boeing UK, the principal of Burnley College, and representatives from the National Apprenticeship Service. Many large manufacturing companies are being invited and I hope many of them will go on to take young people in Burnley on as apprentices.

Talking about local manufacturers, I was extremely pleased to learn of the success of Burnley firm VEKA, which has taken over Bowater Building Products – a move which will strengthen its base in Burnley. VEKA, which employs many local people, is celebrating its 25th anniversary year of manufacturing in the UK, and should be congratulated for its commitment to our area. I wish the firm the best of success for the future.

I’ve been really busy with casework. I had my first advice surgery at Burnley Sainsbury’s and would like to thank them for their generosity in providing an excellent venue. I’ve also finalised my regular surgery timetable which will be: First Friday of the month, Burnley Sainsbury’s; second Friday, Burnley Asda; third Friday, Burnley Library; fourth Friday, Padiham Leisure Centre. If there is a fifth Friday, I will hold a special surgery elsewhere.

Thanks to all who took the time to speak to me. One issue I was delighted to resolve was an immigration issue for a lady from America who urgently needed to return to the country to visit her sick father. I contacted the Border Agency and sped up the bureaucracy involved in processing her new visa.

I also met the leader and chief executive of Burnley Council, Charlie Briggs and Steve Rumbelow, to discuss key local developments including the progress of the Weavers’ Triangle, which is nearly ready to hand over to the approved developer. We discussed the start of the work on the new shopping centre in Burnley. Planning permission has been approved and we are hoping preliminary work will start on the site in August or September for completion by Christmas 2012. Finally we talked about the Burnley Bridge development – various funding schemes for this initiative are now coming together and plans will be finalised soon.

Finally, I attended the mayor-making ceremony in Hyndburn. I would like to congratulate the new mayor, who seems very committed to the borough, and wish her the very best for her civic year.