GORDON BIRTWISTLE MP: Working to create a ‘Skills City’

Gordon Birtwistle.'Photo Ben Parsons
Gordon Birtwistle.'Photo Ben Parsons

last Monday in Westminster started with the conclusion of the Budget debate. The Government has worked hard to deliver a budget that ensures growth and prosperity in a difficult economic climate.

From April 2014, we will give more than 24 million people a tax cut of £700 by increasing the tax allowance to £10,000 and fuel duty has now been frozen for almost three-and-a-half years. The Chancellor also announced measures to help working parents with a £1bn boost for childcare, worth up to £1,200 a year for each child. We have been determined to do all we can to help and support families and I welcome the difference this will make for the families in Burnley.

From last weekend the beer duty was reduced by 2%, worth a penny on a pint. Thanks to a great campaign from my Lib-Dem colleague Greg Mulholland, we have cancelled Labour’s escalator for beer duty next year and instead increased it by inflation after 2014, all to support our community pubs.

On Tuesday I visited the Rolls-Royce manufacturing site in Derby. It was my first visit in my new role as Apprenticeship Ambassador and I was delighted to be able to see the many apprentices busy at work. The facilities are fantastic and I was fortunate enough to see the impressive engines being built. I am currently in discussion with BAE Systems, Training 2000 and Lancashire County Council over development proposals for a “Skills City” in Samlesbury. This partnership proposes the creation of a training facility to train apprentices, predominantly for the aerospace advanced manufacturing sector.

On Wednesday I visited Fagan & Whalley Ltd at Shuttleworth Mead. It was a fascinating experience visiting the rapidly expanding company, who are one of the biggest employers in Burnley with more than 200 staff. It is great to see the business has not only become a recognised name in road haulage and logistics in Lancashire, but across the UK and into Europe too. Later that afternoon, I had a positive meeting with Chris Davies MEP about Europe which we followed up with some canvassing. It was a good opportunity to converse with local people on national topics and I was pleased with the positive response.

I was busy on Thursday speaking at the Exporting for Growth event organised by the East Lancashire Chamber of Commerce. It was interesting to speak with various companies who export different products all around the world, including plastic children’s lunchboxes to China. Exporting such as this is fantastic for our economy and I am proud that British products are being exported so far afield.

Friday was busy with constituent appointments in the office. Saturday’s advice stall outside M&S in Burnley town centre was very busy and the dry weather made for a pleasant change! As normal, I have been inundated with casework and have been working with constituents on a wide range of issues.