One of my top priorities is securing more jobs for Pendle.
This is not just about reducing local unemployment (which has halved since August, 2009), but about giving young people, who all too often move away to places like Leeds or Manchester, a reason to stay.
There are a lot of different parts to addressing this from the skills agenda, which I work closely with Nelson and Colne College and Training2000 on, to infrastructure and support to help our local employers expand.
During the 1980s, when the decline of the textile industry had led to significant unemployment, Pendle’s MP John Lee, got the Government to agree Lomeshaye Industrial Estate should be an enterprise zone offering companies reasons to locate in Pendle.
This has been of tremendous benefit to our area with thousands employed by companies on Lomeshaye, who have remained long after the initial incentives ended.
During the last year, I ran a similar campaign to secure “Assisted Area” status for parts of Pendle.
Following my lobbying we secured this and it now covers the majority of large and mid-sized employers in Pendle, from Rolls-Royce in Barnoldswick to the whole of Lomeshaye and much in between.
Assisted Area status permits the granting of additional Government support to businesses in economically disadvantaged locations, but with high growth potential, so this will provide a long term boost to jobs in Pendle.
In recent months, we have seen an increase in the so called “reshoring” of jobs as companies like NewCall Telecom have brought jobs back from India to Nelson.
We are even seeing some textile manufacturing coming back to the UK from low wage economies, something I recently spoke about in Parliament.
With many people still out of work there is lots more to do, but the signs for 2015 are encouraging.