Parliament busy as we enter the final weeks

Parliament is busy as we begin the final stretch before the end of this Parliament.

The other Monday began with the Parliamentary launch of the new book by environmentalist, campaigner and best-selling author Tony Juniper, What Nature does for Britain. It was a great event where we talked about the importance of ensuring the protection of our most important wildlife sites at sea. Many constituents contact me on these issues and I feel passionately about the environment and animals, too.

I then went to Researcher of the Year which celebrates the work MPs’ staff do to help support us in our rewarding, yet somewhat challenging role.

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The Tuesday began with a meeting with Keolis to discuss the Northern franchise and my aspirations for the next Northern and TransPennine Express franchises. They talked to me about their set of ideas, to try to make a transformational change to rail services in the north of England.

Ultimately, for me the paramount concerns and goals must be doing whatever we can to boost economic growth, provide employment opportunities and encourage the use of rail, while delivering value for money for taxpayers and passengers.

I then, on the Wednesday, attended a skills and apprenticeships breakfast briefing being held by the Potato Council, a division of the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board.

The skills and job opportunities the British potato industry provides the country were highlighted, and I was amazed to learn the potato industry contributes over £4.7 billion each year to the UK economy and employs around 16,000 people. With rising food demand and pressure on resources challenging farmers to “produce more with less”, ensuring high levels of knowledge and skills throughout the supply chain are vital.

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Apprentices are key to helping this industry move forward in a positive and profitable way.

I then spoke at a Chartered Institute of Building event being held to raise the profile of the construction industry within Government and seek ways the CIOB can help contribute to a number of the ongoing debates surrounding housing, skills and the environment. Key to this is apprenticeships and I was delighted to share my own apprenticeship story and talk about apprentices in general.

On the Thursday I went to visit Gilkes in Kendal to visit the site and meet apprentices. I went alongside my colleague, Tim Farron, where we were shown around the refurbishment work at Gilkes’ head office. The project, which was funded through a successful Regional Growth Fund bid, will help regenerate the Canal Head site and ensure Gilkes’ presence as one of Kendal’s most significant employers. I was delighted to see the factory and do a presentation of Apprenticeship awards

On the Friday I welcomed Transport Minister Baroness Kramer to Burnley Manchester Road Station and for the first time in decades, direct trains will start running to Manchester from Burnley from May 18th. This is after the Todmorden Curve was rebuilt following funding I secured and is a fantastic thing for our town.

Friday was then busy with constituent appointments and my usual surgery.

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