ON Friday I went to look at the new houses at the bottom of Cog Lane and the new developments in Burnley Wood. These new homes are a credit to Burnley Council and I congratulate those involved.
I’m very proud positive steps are going into regenerating parts of Burnley which had been ignored for too long. This isn’t something that can be reversed overnight, but the council is doing a fantastic job in tackling the problems head on.
Another important area is the Weavers’ Triangle. The potential here is huge and once finished will make a huge difference to the town. I met the Prince of Wales this week to discuss developments and he was delighted to hear about the council’s progress in cleaning up the site and the involvement of developers in getting the buildings fully refurbished and back into use.
On Friday I met headteachers from across Burnley for a really productive meeting. They raised a number of issues with me, which I have since raised with Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Education. I also visited Shuttleworth College during the day, and congratulate headteacher Martin Burgess, staff and students, on working hard to improve the college.
In Parliament this week it’s been really busy, with Bills going through on Climate Change, reform of the House of Lords, and the Localism Bill.
One important issue I have raised is the importance of allotments – I spoke out as part of the Localism Bill to make sure allotments are secured for the future, and not sold off for development. I have an allotment myself and feel very strongly how valuable they for communities and for people’s quality of life. I raised these concerns directly with Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Local Government, and he reassured me there will be no changes to, or repeal of, the Allotment Law, under the new Localism Bill. I have also spoken to council leader Charlie Briggs, who has assured me that, while under Lib-Dem control, the council will increase the number of allotments available.
Elsewhere in Westminster, there was a crucially important green development with the announcement of plans to cut the UK’s greenhouse emissions by 50% from 1990 levels. These plans are really ambitious, they should make Britain in 2027 a very different place – with warmer homes powered by green energy, far less reliance on fossil fuels, and many more cars powered by electricity.
The announcement came this week of the Independent Reconfiguration Panel into the closure of Burnley’s Children’s Ward. Like you, I am so disappointed the decision was not in our favour. I have campaigned on this issue for some time and am heartbroken the IRP does not agree with us. I was very hopeful when we managed to get this issue back onto the agenda and referred to the IRP late last year. It has been a real blow to me and like-minded campaigners and councillors. However, I will continue to fight for this.