Burnley’s new MP Julie Cooper has made her first speech in Parliament in which she praised the town as “a centre of manufacturing excellence.”
The Labour MP’s maiden speech in the House of Commons also highlighted Burnley’s proud industrial past and potential high-tech future, but warned that it needed Government investment in infrastructure and fair grant funding to fulfil its potential.
Mrs Cooper also recognised the work of the Burnley Bondholders’ scheme and Burnley Football Club in attracting positive national interest in the town.
She said: “Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker, for the opportunity to make my maiden speech. I pay tribute to the members who have made their speeches before me today. Many of them are very experienced members, but what I lack in experience I make up for in enthusiasm.
“In the early hours of May 8th I was honoured to be elected the Member of Parliament for Burnley. I would like to thank the people of Burnley and Padiham for the trust they have placed in me.
“As is customary, I would like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to my predecessor, Gordon Birtwistle. In 2010 Gordon made a name for himself being the oldest newly elected MP. He was unquestionably a hard-working MP who, like me, wanted the best for Burnley. Members might not be surprised to hear that we have not always seen eye to eye about everything, but we do share a love of Burnley and a commitment to providing strong representation and I wish him well in his retirement.
“It is a privilege to represent Burnley because it is a special place. During the Industrial Revolution, Burnley came to prominence as the town that produced more cotton than any other town in the world. It undoubtedly played its part in making Britain the richest country in the world at that time, with the biggest empire that the world has ever seen.
“Even now, in the 21st century, much of the industrial landscape has survived and we are keen to protect our heritage. That does not mean that we want to turn our town into a museum. We are moving forward, using our past to provide the foundations for our future. Our old mills, sitting on the banks of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal, are being sensitively adapted to serve the new industries and businesses of the future in what is one of the largest heritage regeneration schemes in the country.
“Burnley used to be home to single large companies that each employed thousands of people. Our future will consist of some large companies, but also, importantly, some small and medium-sized companies. We are already home to several manufacturing companies with international reputations for quality and innovation, not least Aircelle, Veka, AMS Neve, Futaba Tenneco and Kaman, all of which are well-established, successful businesses providing growth and – as a proud trade union member, I am pleased to say – offering quality employment opportunities for local people.
“After many years of campaigning, we have at long last secured, only this month, a direct rail link to Manchester. This link to the UK’s second biggest economic centre will be hugely beneficial to Burnley, attracting business, jobs and investment. Month by month, we are attracting new forward-looking businesses to town, most recently Panaz, Vodafone Automotive and Exertis.
It is a privilege to represent Burnley because it is a special place. During the Industrial Revolution, Burnley came to prominence as the town that produced more cotton than any other town in the world. It undoubtedly played its part in making Britain the richest country in the world at that time, with the biggest empire that the world has ever seenJulie Cooper
“Burnley is a major centre for the aerospace and automotive industries, but we are also a town of many talents. Most people will not know that 90% of the sound systems used in Hollywood studios are made exclusively and entirely in Burnley, and most people will not know that we are home to Crow Wood, the global spa of the year for 2015.
“Burnley has a future as a centre of excellence for advanced manufacturing on the world playing field and can play a key central role in the development of a Northern Powerhouse. I am passionately committed to working to make this vision a reality. I am committed to making Burnley prosperous, and my working-class roots drive me to fight to ensure that everyone benefits from this prosperity.
“In order for Burnley to fulfil its potential, we need Government support. We do not want handouts; we want investment in infrastructure and we need fair grant funding. Frankly, this did not happen under the coalition Government.
“We need to have a fair share of resources, and we need delegated powers to shape our own destiny. The stakeholders of Burnley, the borough council, the local business community and educational institutions – collectively known as Burnley Bondholders – have already demonstrated a record of delivery. This was acknowledged in 2013, when I was council leader and Burnley was officially recognised as the most enterprising town in the UK. If Burnley is to continue to develop as a centre for manufacturing excellence, I know as a former teacher that high standards in training and education are essential not only to fulfil the potential of every individual but to provide the skilled workforce needed for Burnley’s growing economy.