Being accessible to residents is a significant part of what it means to be MP | Antony Higginbotham

At the end of July Parliament went into recess, giving me and all other MPs the opportunity to spend time in the constituency without the need to travel to and from Westminster every week.

Last week I used the time to catch-up with my team on the emails and letters that came in during July.

That month alone it totalled over 450 new issues raised with me, from requests to help to questions on policy; and working with my team we managed to resolve over 200 of these quickly with the remainder taking a bit of time.

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This week my focus has been on getting out and about speaking to residents.

Burnley MP Antony Higginbotham has been out and about around the borough speaking to residents

I’m a firm believer that a big part of this role is making myself available to residents who might not contact me, or any MP, but who have a viewpoint or question to raise.

Throughout much of Covid that’s been difficult, with restrictions and social distancing meaning we couldn’t get together or hold face-to-face surgeries.

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So this week I’ve been making the most of the better weather, ending of restrictions and extra time to run my biggest summer tour ever!

In total I will have conducted 23 open surgeries by the time we get to Sunday with yet more planned for next week. Venues across the borough have featured in the tour, making sure that every resident can speak with me at a location that isn’t too far away from their home or place of work.

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And this has supplemented my usual surgeries which are now running again in my office and on the doorstep, where I always enjoy meeting with those who want or need to speak with me.

I’ve been at top of Harle Syke, the centre of Padiham, into Hapton, Rosegrove and Dunnockshaw; then into Worsthorne, Cliviger, Hurstwood and of course, Burnley town centre.

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Whilst that has meant the week has been incredibly busy, I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.

Because having a representative that is visible, and accessible to all residents, is in my mind a significant part of what it means to be an MP.

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As many of you will also have noticed, I’ve also been running my summer surgery tour with a local pub tour.

Our community pubs are incredibly important and we all want to see them thrive and bounce back from Covid-19 quickly.

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Holding surgeries in them has allowed me to speak to landlords and landladies about the hospitality sector and what we can do to support them, as well as meeting residents who might just want a chat over a pint.

And to top off the week I’ve also just taken delivery of my latest leaflet which will be going out right across the borough over the coming weeks.

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It updates everyone on the big ticket items that I’ve been working on for residents, from the Levelling-Up Fund bid and working with the police, through to backing our businesses and helping them make use of the trade deals being struck with other countries.

I’m a firm believer that politics isn’t just about turning up at the time of the election, but about being accessible and open, and updating people on what’s being done to improve the area.

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For me, that’s what this week and this recess is all about.