Burnley MP Antony Higginbotham: Government support is essential
This weekend further measures were announced for our borough, county and some other parts of the UK too.
And I know full well the level of frustration that is currently being felt at the moment.
These are tough times for all of us. The measures mean we are unable to see our loved ones, and businesses, built up by families and ambitious entrepreneurs, are having to close their doors. That is devastating.
I’m honoured to represent Burnley and Padiham in Parliament and even though it has only been 11 months since I was elected, this period has been a steep learning curve.
It has taught me many things, like how we can really pull together in times of crisis. And it has shown how our northern resolve of just getting on with it remains as prominent as ever.
That is why these measures as so difficult. They stop us doing what our instincts tell us to do, they impact on our daily life, and they result in businesses that employ our friends and family members closing.
But the rising cases in our area sadly cannot be ignored. I spent last week looking through the data with the Health Secretary and the Deputy Chief Medical Officer and it makes for worrying reading.
Cases are undeniably on the rise, more worryingly so for the over 65s, and we must get a grip of the situation now.
For the vast majority of us we grin and bear it; we are hardened bunch, but the message needs to be clear. Let’s all pull together once again and follow the restrictions until we can see the case numbers falling.
Rest assured that once those numbers start to fall, clearly and consistently, I will be the first pushing for the Government to get our businesses open again and allow us to live our lives freely.
But equally important is that the necessary support people need whilst these measures are in place is provided. That support is what will put food on the table, pay bills and keep businesses afloat until they can trade once more.
That’s vital for our local economy and is exactly what I have and will continue to raise. Without this help people’s livelihoods will disappear and that’s not a position I’m willing to take.
Whilst I was not privy to the negotiations between the Government, the local Director of Public Health, County Council and Borough Councils, I understand that they were constructive. It was agreed that we would move into Tier 3 and I made clear to Government Ministers that businesses and residents in Burnley would need to be protected in any move and the end result was a substantial package.
£30 million for economic support, on top of the Chancellor’s Winter Economy Plan, and £12 million to deal with the public health response. But my job doesn’t end there. As you would expect I will keep making the case for Burnley and Padiham, ensuring our businesses, residents and local authorities have the resources needed to meet the challenge of the day.
That’s how I can do my bit to make sure our businesses are not closing up long-term but will be able to reopen as soon as circumstances allow.
The era of the North being forgotten; Lancashire being forgotten; Burnley being forgotten; ended on December 12th last year. I promised never again to allow our borough to languish as others allowed. I promised to level up. And that is exactly what I remain focused on.
I will never stop lobbying Government, publicly and privately, to ensure they understand our local economy, understand the support that we need here, and keep working with me to improve our area.