MP can’t take credit for Todmorden Curve

The Todmorden Curve rail link
The Todmorden Curve rail link

I have just received a leaflet from Coun. Gordon Birtwistle extolling his own so-called accomplishments in Burnley. Oh sorry, do you think I have made a mistake calling Mr Gordon Birtwistle councillor.

Sorry, but I have not made any mistake. Apart from being MP for Burnley, he is also a Burnley borough councillor of which he receives an annual allowance of nearly £3,000 in addition to his payment which is in excess of £75,000 for being an MP.

Is this not getting paid twice for doing basically the same job, supposedly looking after the interests of Burnley citizens. Would we all be better off if we were paid twice for working the same job? You bet we would. But I digress, the point of my letter is to put right certain facts about the claim made by Coun. Birtwistle regarding the Todmorden Curve.

Back in 1993, 22 years ago (yes, so far back) I, realising the land on which the former Todmorden Curve Rail Line had not been built upon, decided to make inquiries as to the possibility of reinstating a rail link between Burnley and Manchester.

Unfortunately, in 1994 I lost my Cliviger seat but regained it in 1997. On my re-election, I was reappointed to the then Economic and Property Committee, where I persevered again to bring the possibility of reinstating the rail link via the Todmorden Curve back on the committee agenda.

It took many meetings but back in 2000, at a meeting of the Economic and Property Committee on March 24th, it was agreed Burnley Council should place on the agenda “The Todmorden Curve”.

At the Full Council meeting on Wednesday, April 12th, 2000, the minutes of the Economic and Property Committee were put forward for approval but there was an omission to those minutes which referred to the committee’s decision to place the Todmorden Curve Rail Link between Burnley and Manchester.

I moved an amendment to those minutes, and it was seconded by Coun. Harry Brooks that minute no. 129 relating to the East Lancashire Economic Development Strategy should be amended by adding the following resolution: “3) That this council should communicate with Calderdale Metropolitan Council and other appropriate local authorities and agencies to agree how to achieve the reopening of the rail link between Todmorden and Burnley to benefit the public of Burnley, Pendle and Hyndburn.

On being put to the vote, the motion carried and it was resolved. The then Coun. Steve Wolski congratulated me in the council chamber on a major achievement.

Since April 2000 I have campaigned to have this link reopened and, in May, the first train will run.

For over 10 years I campaigned for this very important and strategic rail link, and now it is being brought into existence, Coun. Birtwistle, who for 10 years remained silent, now claims his work on the Todmorden Curve has paid off. This is pure arrogance as if it was for my research in those early years and my assiduous and persistent badgering for 10 years, there would have been nothing for councillor and or MP Gordon Birtwistle to put on his bandwagon and that is what he has done, jumped on someone’s bandwagon.

Coun. Birtwistle, do not forget, it was a Conservative councillor and his colleagues, backed by Labour councillors that won the day on this matter. Never, ever, claim victory for something where all the major battles were won before you came on the field.

So Coun. Birtwistle and Birtwistle MP, whichever name you prefer at whatever time or place best suits, there is something to which of course you can claim to have achieved and that is being paid for doing virtually the same job by taking council tax payers’ money form local tax payers (who let’s face it are hard pressed) and tax payers’ money for your parliamentary duties. No doubt this is within guideline rules, but is it morally right to do so. People paying you twice to do basically the same job, or do you not think you should have resigned your councillor position at the last local election and done one job as MP? Or are you hedging your bets?

Coun. David Heginbotham

Cliviger with Worsthorne