Burnley's global reputation for manufacturing excellence | Burnley MP Antony Higginbotham column

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The earthquakes that hit Turkey and Syria last week are heart-breaking, and as each day goes by, we get more reports about the devastation they have caused.

The Foreign Office is supporting those seeking to connect with friends and family in the area, as well as providing international aid. Lancashire Fire & Rescue have also sent a team to Turkey to assist, and they are already making a huge difference.

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At the end of last week, I asked several questions in Parliament, including about the Padiham Greenway Bridge. This has been closed since June 2021 due to structural concerns and damage. Whilst we all understand this, we also want to see it reopened. As I said in Parliament, it is used by hundreds if not thousands of residents for leisure and commuting.

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Burnley MP Antony HigginbothamBurnley MP Antony Higginbotham
Burnley MP Antony Higginbotham

I have been working with local Councillor Jamie McGowan to find a way forward, including through discussions with Sustrans who own the bridge; The Coal Authority who are responsible for the mine shafts underneath; and the Environment Agency who need to give permission for any work given the impact it could have on flood risks. This work continues and I am due to meet The Coal Authority in the coming weeks, after which I’ll give another update.

I also used a question to the International Trade Minister to ask what more we could do to make Burnley the best place in Britain for foreign companies to invest and establish a UK footprint. It was great to hear Government recognise that “Burnley has a global reputation for manufacturing excellence”, showing we really are top of Government’s mind now, and I hope this forms part of the brief that UK trade officials share with foreign companies when they are looking to invest in our country. I’ll be meeting with the Minister in the coming weeks to see what more we can do, as this investment and trade is one of the ways we can turbocharge our local growth and create jobs.

Finally, this week Government has announced extra investment in drug and alcohol treatment and recovery, meaning we will be spending 40% more on this compared to 2020/21 nationally, taking it to almost £20 million across Lancashire. Addiction devastates the lives of those who use drugs and alcohol, and their families. So, as well as cracking down on the criminal aspects, we should also offer treatment and compassion to those suffering. This funding will allow us to do that, bringing more rehabilitation, detoxification, and greater recovery services.