Christmas was an especially busy time for me both in the constituency and at home with family. My recent surgery meant that I was not able to get out and about quite as much as I would have liked but nevertheless I did manage to attend a number of events across the Borough including church services at St. Peter’s and the Life Church. One pleasing feature of all these services was the part played by school children and young people. Their talents and enthusiasm was a real pleasure to witness. I was particularly pleased to see so many people attend the Epiphany Carol Service at St. Catherine’s Church and to see so much support for Pendleside Hospice.
2016 promises to be action packed with a new set of challenges. Above all I believe we need to strive for security in the widest possible sense. We all need to know that everything possible is in place to keep us safe and well not just from the threats posed by terrorists and criminals but that everything is in place to ensure our security and well- being: we need an efficient patient focused NHS, we need properly resourced fire and police services, training and real employment opportunities, dignity and safety for the elderly and protection and support for the disabled and the vulnerable. We also need to be assured that everything that can be done to protect us from environmental change and extreme weather is being done. I know some people will be thinking that is all well and good but how are we going to pay for all this. I would say to this that it is a false economy to make savings in these areas, as this Government continues to do. To withdraw investment from crucial services ultimately costs us more: false economy.
Flood protection needs to be a major priority for us as a country. The devastation caused to homes and business properties in Padiham on Boxing Day, had to be seen to be believed. These floods that caused so much misery were undoubtedly the worst floods that have been seen in Padiham for many a year but in many ways they were not a surprise because since March the Met. Office had been predicting extreme rainfall and increased flooding risk. Amazingly the Government’s response was to cut funding for flood defences by 27%. Now, though is the time for action not for blame. We cannot though, just hope that these were freak weather conditions nor can we just rely on sandbags. A proper action plan is essential. I have raised some very serious concerns with the Prime Minister and I will pursue this. In addition I will be working with the Environment Agency to ensure funding is available for specific measures to protect from future flooding. In the meantime some financial compensation has been made available and home owners and businesses affected should contact Burnley Council for details of how to make a claim.
I will of course continue to fight to retain Burnley’s Fracture Clinic. I know from recent personal experience how difficult it is having to get to Blackburn Hospital for follow up treatment for painful injuries.
I also guarantee that I will not let the subject of hospital car parking charges drop. Allowing carers to park for free is the right thing to do and I shall be campaigning for East Lancashire Hospital Trust to introduce a scheme at Burnley General and Blackburn Royal
I am looking forward to a busy and productive year and I wish you all a happy and peaceful new year.