GORDON BIRTWISTLE MP: Scottish devolution will mean big changes to everyday life

In Parliament

ON Tuesday in Parliament there was a very interesting debate on Scottish devolution. This is an issue which is going to become very important over the course of the next few years. Alex Salmond wants a referendum in a couple of years’ time to capitalise on various events that will be held in Scotland. David Cameron wants a legally-binding referendum after this year’s Olympics. I think that if the Scottish people decide they want to completely leave the UK, they need to be prepared economically. The subsidies given through the Barnet formula will surely have to end and this could mean big changes to everyday Scottish life. It will be interesting to see how the two debates develop over the course of the next year.

Last week I was very pleased to show a man and his wife from Padiham around the House of Commons. We get lots of visitors from Burnley and I always endeavour to book them onto various tours or provide them with tickets to the gallery where possible. This time the trip was a birthday treat for his 60th birthday and I was able to secure tickets for Prime Minster’s Questions which is always a raucous affair.

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I also met a representative from the Baker Dearing Trust which is going to manage the new University Technical College in Burnley. This was a meeting to talk about the funding for the university. This is a project which I am going to be heavily involved in over the next few years and I am so pleased we will have one of these great colleges in Burnley. I am hoping it will be able to support more young people into highly-skilled jobs the way the fabulous Burnley College does. Having two such colleges in town is a nod to the role Burnley plays in the manufacturing sector and its contribution to the economy both in the North-West and nationally.

Back in Burnley & Padiham

BACK in Burnley on Thursday, I saw the fantastic work to clear up the rivers of Burnley with Ribble Rivers Conservation Trust. The work being done on our waterways is nothing short of remarkable, and it is hoped salmon, trout and kingfishers will one day return to the Brun and Calder. You may be aware a recent incident led to more than 100 fish being killed after a pollution spill entered our rivers. Since then, environmental campaigners for the trust have done sterling work, battling through, finishing construction of a fish pass at the top of St James’s Street, and now creating a weir behind the former Burnley College. I am told there were a couple of trout found after the pollution incident, which shows there was a real improvement in the water quality, and I am sure these remarkable improvements will continue – fantastic news for Burnley.

I had lots of casework appointments in the office – do not hesitate to get in touch if I can be of assistance. I had my advice surgery at Asda, and have been working through the cases since – thanks to everyone who took the time to speak with me. This was followed by a busy advice stall on Saturday morning outside M&S – it was good to speak with so many people, and hear lots of positive comments about the investment coming to Burnley. In particular, it was good to speak with people about plans for £12m. of investment in a new emergency unit at Burnley General. I have been following this up in Parliament during the week, and will keep you updated on progress through this column.