PENDLE MP ANDREW STEPHENSON: A lot to look forward to in Pendle in 2012

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As 2011 draws to a close, it is timely for us to look ahead to 2012 and what the New Year has in store.

The year will be packed full of events such as the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee weekend on June 2nd to 5th, the Olympic Games from July 27th to August 12th and the Paralympic Games from August 29th to September 9th.

We have a golden opportunity to show the world Britain is still a great country, proud of who we are, proud of our heritage and our traditions, but also optimistic about the years ahead.

Locally, 2012 is the 400th anniversary of the Pendle Witches, and will be celebrated with a year of themed events. The recent unearthing of the remains of a 17th Century cottage near Lower Black Moss reservoir in Barley, complete with a cat skeleton, being a timely reminder of Pendle’s darker past.

It is also the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic on which Colner Wallace Hartley instructed the band to play on. I very much enjoyed my visit earlier this year to the Titanic in Lancashire Museum in Colne, which tells the story of the greatest sea disaster in history and the many local people caught up in this most iconic event. For those who have not been already, it is well worth a visit.

Both these anniversaries present real opportunities to boost local tourism and for us to show off Pendle at the same time as Britain is being showcased to the world.

With all the economic challenges our country faces, many will look to 2012 with trepidation rather than hope. However, without underestimating the problems we face, I am optimistic about the coming year.

Everyone knows that, as when someone runs up a massive credit card bill, the longer you put off dealing with debt, the worse it gets and the more it costs. It would have been much easier not to deal with the problem. But delay would just pass this generation’s debt on to our children, stall economic recovery and cost even more.

We need to create a future where those who work hard and play by the rules are rewarded, where we invest in the industries and jobs of the future and where we end the something for nothing culture that has done so much damage to our country.

The three priorities for the Coalition Government over 2012 should remain: growth, aspiration and modernising public services. Put simply, we will work to help more people get a job and get on in life in a Britain that has the best, modern public services.

I look forward to continuing to work with our local charities and voluntary groups who do so much fantastic work across Pendle. I also look forward to working with and supporting our local employers, who will provide the jobs and apprenticeships we need to get people back to work.

Times will remain tough, but I am optimistic and convinced that together we can make 2012 the year that Pendle and Britain gets back on its feet.