GORDON BIRTWISTLE MP: Political point-scoring means no Lords reforms

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IN the constituency I have been back out collecting signatures for the bus station sign campaign. We now have more than 1,100 signatures. If you haven’t already added your name, and would like to, I will be back at the bus station over the next two Wednesdays, so please come and add your name.

We will be going to hand in the signatures to Lancashire County Council alongside a number of constituents who suffer from macular degeneration.

We started this campaign on their behalf as they are struggling to see the bus timetable without the electronic signs so I do hope the county council will take this into consideration and turn the lights back on.

I also made a visit to Gatefield Court sheltered accommodation in Burnley Wood to hear residents’ concerns about the lack of a Minister for older people. I am very much in support of re-introducing a minister for the elderly and will be asking a question about this when the house returns in September.

The Central Methodist Church held its own Mini Olympics, for which I awarded the medals. The event was open to all local children and lots turned up, including some children with disabilities. It was a wonderful day with many of the adults also entering into the spirit of the Olympics and all the children came away with a chocolate medal.

Business Secretary Vince Cable came to visit Burnley and, while he was here, met 72 Burnley Bond Holders for a question-and-answer session. Burnley Bond Holders are a group of people who have really invested in Burnley’s future, whether that is through being business leaders, education providers and providing charitable services, so this was a great opportunity to have a frank discussion with a senior Cabinet member about government policy and local issues. The event was deemed by all to be a great success and it was great to be able to tell the Secretary of State about all the new projects being undertaken in Burnley since his last visit here more than a year ago.

Recently Nick Clegg announced there will now be no House of Lords reform as both the Tories and Labour are making it too difficult, despite the fact there was a commitment to reform in all the main parties’ manifestos. Unfortunately the other parties are now playing political point-scoring and we had to face the realisation we would not get the Bill through. Without reforming the House of Lords the Liberal Democrats feel it would be difficult to support the boundary changes. Surely it cannot be right to reduce the size of the elected chamber while allowing the second chamber to remain appointed with more than 100 members. With constitutional reform shelved for now I hope all parties will work together to concentrate on what is most important – fixing our economy.