Burnley MP Antony Higginbotham column: Where support is needed, it will be provided

This week we heard from the Prime Minister that our battle against coronavirus is unfortunately not over.
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Unlike most battles we face, this time we are unable to see the threat that we face.

That’s why the data has proven to be so important. It gives us back our sight; using testing to shine a light on how rapid the virus is spreading, the impact it has and the tools in our arsenal which have an effect.

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And in setting out how we will continue to fight this fight the Prime Minister also outlined our guiding principal of limiting interventions as far as we possibly can whilst still being effective.

Burnley MP Antony HigginbothamBurnley MP Antony Higginbotham
Burnley MP Antony Higginbotham

That’s why our schools, colleges and businesses must remain open. Because we must do everything we can to avoid a return to the kind of hard shutdown of our country, and our borough, that we saw back in March.

And so whilst the measures announced this week will be difficult for us all, I know it is a challenge we will rise to, protecting the health of people across Burnley and Padiham.

As I have consistently said, in this column and elsewhere, our local businesses are the lifeblood of our community and I know many will be worried following the announcements that have been made.

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It’s taken an enormous package of economic support to get us to this point – not just the measures rolled out in March and April like business grants and furlough, but the Plan for Jobs with its support for hospitality and young people too.

With the virus staying with us for longer still though, we need to look at what more we can do to retain the skills and experience we have locally.

Over the course of this week I have spent my time in Parliament speaking with Ministers and others about how we support our borough, our skills and our people through this.

And on Wednesday I met with the Chancellor, in 11 Downing Street, doing the same thing.

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Giving our area a voice and finding solutions. Because it’s the solutions that count and make a difference. Decisions are rarely easy. And these ones in particular, about how we contain the most viral disease in a generation whilst shielding the economy, are no exception.

But if we are serious about stopping the number of coronavirus cases getting out of control then they are decisions that must be taken.

As Boris put it “a stitch in time saves nine”. Most readers will understand the analogy.

Getting that balance right is key. Ensuring we protect lives, livelihoods and liberties. As I said before – taking the least intrusive options whilst having greatest effect.

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And as your Member of Parliament for Burnley and Padiham my role is clear.

To scrutinise the government; to raise issues when they appear; and to find ways of supporting our area.

It’s a task I remember every day as I walk into Parliament.