GORDON BIRTWISTLE: Lib-Dem ministers visit Burnley

Gordon Birtwistle
Gordon Birtwistle

We’re half way through the Easter recess and it’s been great spending time at home, catching up on casework in our office in St James’s Row, and visiting groups in the constituency I don’t normally get the time to. It’s a busy time of year and I’ve been knocking on lots of doors with the lead up to the local elections and referendum on changing our voting system. Thanks to everyone who took the time to speak with me.

Last Thursday, we had a visit from Vince Cable, Secretary of State for Business. He was keen to see some of the fantastic local businesses we have in Burnley. I showed him round Rourke’s Ironworks and Moorhouse’s Brewery in Accrington Road, where he talked with staff and saw the shop floors in action. He was very impressed by the success of these companies and their commitment to Burnley.

Both businesses are competing strongly in the export markets – Rourke’s is currently sending wrought iron goods around the globe. Meanwhile, Moorhouse’s has just spent more than £4m. on a new brewery, which triples its brewing capability to 1,000 barrels a day and demonstrates the company’s commitment to the town which has been its home for more than 130 years.

During the week I also arranged for Andrew Stunnell, Lib-Dem Minister in the Department of Communities and Local Government, to visit Burnley for really positive meetings with councillors about local issues as well as to knock on some doors as part of the local election campaign.

In terms of casework, one big issue I have been working on during the week is local transport. Many constituents have raised with me concerns about the state of Burnley Manchester Road Station. I have been in discussions with Northern Rail, Lancashire County Council and Burnley Council regarding further improvements for the station. Following my earlier inquiries, I am delighted to report the public address system is now up and running with the details of the next trains being announced. A ticket machine has also been installed at the station. I am now pushing to see more positive developments at the station, including the installation of CCTV cameras.

I have also been working with local residents to improve the dial-a-bus service they receive and hoping to reinstate an excursion service. For many older people in Burnley and Padiham, as well Pendle, this service was the one chance they had to get out and socialise. I am hoping we will have a return of this service one way or another. One option we have been exploring has shown promise and an exploratory excursion has already been held and received positive feedback, while other options are still being looked into to ensure we get the best deal for the people who rely on this service.

We have continued to work with local bus companies to ensure local people who rely on the buses to get around are being given a good service. After investigating news about an alteration in service on the Number 3 route I can report this service has been retendered and will be operated by Tyrer’s from late May. Full details of the switch have yet to be confirmed but I will be monitoring the situation.