Burnley MP column: Public’s chance to have a say in how £20m investment should be spent

When I became the MP, I promised to reverse the long-standing trend that had taken root in Westminster – namely that Burnley and Padiham didn’t matter.
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Forgotten and left behind for years, that task was always going to be an uphill challenge. But I didn’t get involved for an easy ride.

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I’ve spent the past 4 years of my life banging the drum for our area. Whether that’s visiting our business community so that I can feed in their concerns; speaking with thousands of residents at one of my regular weekly surgeries; or using the voice given to me by you to raise Burnley and Padiham in Westminster at every opportunity. We deserve somebody who champions a positive vision, to counter the negativity we are all accustomed to. And ultimately to deliver the change we’ve so desperately needed.

Burnley MP Antony HigginbothamBurnley MP Antony Higginbotham
Burnley MP Antony Higginbotham
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Last week we had the Prime Minister on our patch. Not just following the £970,000 awarded to the Burnley Boys and Girls Club. But to coincide with the £20m. we’ve just been awarded through a new Towns Deal.

This follows such a change in the level of investment we’re seeing. As your MP, I have always lobbied the Government to provide more investment. And it's paying off!

Two years ago, we secured £20m. out of the 1st round of the Levelling Up Fund to expand UCLAN, upgrade Manchester Rd Station, and build Town2Turf. Work has already started on the £18million flood defences in Padiham. Another £12m. was secured earlier this year through the 2nd round of the LUF, to provide further improvements to our transport infrastructure, and to create new ‘liveable neighbourhoods’ in parts of the borough most needing regeneration. Burnley College, as the main education provider for our area has seen investment of over £16million for the expansion of their facilities. And then there is the £3.5m. from the Getting Building Fund which enabled the council get Pioneer Place up and running. We’ve secured all this since 2019.

The latest £20 million is different though. Unlike all of the funding above, this money is yet to be allocated to any project. This presents a massive opportunity for residents to get involved. And is why I want to open up the conversation. Over the following weeks and months, I’ll be reaching out to as many people as possible. Listening to where you want this money spent and feeding those ideas into the new Town Board which will shortly be set up to administer the fund.