Burnley MP Julie Cooper column: Uncertain times but Burnley Council continues to punch above its weight

Julie Cooper with Angela Rayner, the Shadow Secretary for Education, and Peter Thorne, secretary of the Burnley Trades Union Council.
Julie Cooper with Angela Rayner, the Shadow Secretary for Education, and Peter Thorne, secretary of the Burnley Trades Union Council.
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Early May is usually dominated by local elections and this year quite predictably the election results in Burnley and Padiham were very much a mixed bag with no clear message coming from the electorate.


Local elections are of course influenced by national issues but not exclusively so and I know that many people use their vote to comment on very specific local concerns.

Many people, myself included feel a sense of frustration and anger at the lack of progress on the ongoing Brexit debacle and the spread of opinion that showed the Greens, UKIP, the local Independence Party, Lib Dems making gains and a majority of Labour councillors winning seats could make for some interesting analysis.

I would like to pay tribute to all the candidates and to all the hardworking councillors who are dedicated to making our town a better place and are prepared to stick their heads above the parapet to do just that.

Even in these really tough uncertain times Burnley Council continues to punch above its weight and consistently wins national recognition for its achievements in supporting the development of new businesses and employment opportunities.

For myself I will continue working to support our excellent council, ensuring that the voices of those of us who live in Burnley and Padiham are heard loud and clear in Parliament on every important issue.

On Bank Holiday Monday I was delighted to take part in the annual festival on Towneley Park to celebrate International Workers’ Day.

This event which marks the great struggles, achievements and traditions of working people through the ages is now in its 42nd year and has become a tradition in its own right.

This continues to be important because as Burnley continues to make its mark as a centre for advanced manufacturing and the new digital technologies; as a university town with a teaching hospital it is sometimes easy to forget that Burnley was at the centre of the original Northern Powerhouse.

Conditions, though for workers were very different then and before the rise of trade unions and the Labour Party men, women and children toiled for 16 hours a day for poverty pay with no rights, no voice and no choice.

Things are better now thanks to the efforts of brave people who banded together united by a desire to improve the lives of working people but we should never be complacent.

I will not rest until we see an end to poverty pay and zero hour contracts; until we have a real living wage; until all workers enjoy equal rights and opportunities.

And I have have to say how can anyone rest when so many working people in Burnley and Padiham are forced to rely on food banks? How can anyone rest knowing that even though we are a rich country, a third of all the children in Burnley and Padiham are growing up in poverty?

I was really pleased to welcome Angela Rayner, the Shadow Secretary for Education to our event.

Angela is a northern working class MP who has progressed through her own endeavours to a position where she can help others get on in life and I applaud her.

I would like to thank everyone who attended the event and especially the hundreds of people who stood in the rain to hear the speeches.

It was clear to all that the fight to support working people goes on. I would also like to express my appreciation to Peter Thorne and the Burnley Trades Council for organising the event.

I was struck again this weekend by just how lovely our parks are. On Sunday I was fortunate to spend some time with my family in Towneley Park.

It wasn’t raining and the vast parkland, the sport and recreation facilities and the Great Hall were all looking very impressive.

Most towns don’t have even one great park and here we are able to enjoy Thompson’s Park, Queens Park, Ightenhill Park, Scott’s Park and Padiham Memorial Park.

We really are very well served and it really is important to give credit to Burnley Council’s Park Department and the committed staff and volunteers who maintain our parks to such a high standard.

In these times of redundancies with fewer and fewer people to do the work, it really is no mean feat to have so many green flag parks and I for one am very grateful to them.

Let me finish by saying ‘Ramadan Mubarak’ to all of those constituents who are fasting in their holy month.

My next MP’s surgery will be on Saturday from 10am - noon at my office at 8 Keirby Walk Burnley.

No appointments are necessary as people will be seen on a first come first served basis.

Alternatively you can email me on julie.cooper.mp@parliament.uk or phone or drop in to my Constituency Office which next week is open from 10am - 12-30pm on Tuesday and from 10am - 4pm Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

The number to call with enquiries is 01282 425744 and my staff will always do their very assist you and keep me informed about the issues which you raise.