Safety of the public is priority | Burnley MP Antony Higginbotham

The first job of government is to keep the public safe.

We are all rightly concerned when wait times for services like ambulances, or fire crews, goes beyond the targets. Because the reason we have those targets is to protect the public.

And it is for that reason that I supported the minimum safety levels legislation this week.

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Burnley MP Antony HIgginbotham

There was no shortage of Labour members who shouted against, including the Labour council leader in his own column last week. Often these calls included deliberate misinformation about how this would result in staff being dismissed en masse, or outlawing strikes in general.

Not only is this untrue, but my simple ask in response is for them to tell all of us when they have argued for the police to be given the ability to strike. The answer is never. Because we all accept the special role the police have in society and recognise that if they went on strike public safety would be at risk.

This legislation does not ban the right to strike but simply sets minimum levels of service that must be provided, so there is still a guarantee that where life is at risk, help will be provided.

We also saw the Online Safety Bill return, bringing our laws into the digital age; and the EU Regulations Bill to ensure all regulations in the UK are fit for our economy, and our people, and not hangovers from the days of membership.

The major news on Thursday was even more investment here in Burnley, and right across Lancashire, through the second round of the Levelling Up Fund. This brought just over £2 billion of investment nationally and more than £200 million coming into Lancashire alone, including another £12 million for Burnley.

This will deliver infrastructure improvements locally, with communities being regenerated and public transport improved. And it will also deliver major projects like Eden Project North which will now be based in Morecambe.

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Combined with the tens of millions we’ve seen in Burnley so far, going to things like UCLan expansion and Pioneer Place, to Burnley College and Padiham flood defences, it means we are delivering for our borough in a massive way.

Levelling Up is not a one-off, but about improving every aspect of life. This is a point I made this week when I was in Number 10, directly lobbying the Prime Minister, on other factors like employment opportunities within our borough.

Our potential is huge, and the Prime Minister is backing us all the way.