Assisted Area status will give huge boost to business

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After my recent ill health I was delighted to return to work in Westminster the other week.

While I am still sore and having to limit how much I do, I met representatives of Training2000 to talk about the skills agenda and regeneration of Brierfield Mill. The same day, I was also pleased to attend the National Continence Care Awards, to congratulate Pendle resident Polly Harris, a Specialist Nurse at East Lancashire Hospital Trust, on her award for staff training.

I was also delighted to catch up with Education Secretary Michael Gove to thank him personally for the £716,000 capital funding for Colne Primet Academy to completely refurbish their sport facilities. I also discussed with ministers final details of the Assisted Area status announcement and the huge boost this will be for jobs and growth in Pendle over the next six years.

Assisted Area status makes local businesses eligible to bid for additional funding and tax breaks to create jobs, invest in new premises or machinery and grow. The current Area Assisted status map drawn up under the last Labour Government in 2007 includes parts of Blackburn, Hyndburn and Burnley, but no part of Pendle. The new map draw up by the current Government will be in effect 2014–2020 and includes parts of Pendle for the first time, something I have been campaigning hard for. In fact the new map will cover more than half of Pendle, stretching from Reedley and Brierfield through to Earby.

To be included was a competitive process with eligible areas selected based on a combination of need and the opportunity for businesses to grow and create jobs. So I am delighted the arguments I made were listed too and we have secured this huge boost for local businesses.