The Leader Times Series May 22nd 2020

The announcement of substantial job losses from Rolls Royce is deeply troubling news for many local families. Although we do not yet know the impact this global decision will have on their Barnoldswick sites, this will be an extremely concerning time for workers. With job losses also announced at Safran Narcelles in Burnley last week, it is clear the Covid-19 pandemic is having an unprecedented effect on businesses on the aviation and aerospace sectors. I am committed to working with the company and trade union representatives to ensure workers are treated fairly.

As individuals and for businesses, we do needs to remember that however long and difficult this crisis turns out to be, it is only temporary. We do have to plan for the future that lies ahead. I have made urgent contact with Rolls Royce to secure their long-term commitment to their Barnoldswick sites.  I am also in discussion with fellow Transport Ministers and Ministers in the Department for Business about additional support to the aerospace sector in which so many local people are employed.

Last week, the Education Secretary set out a plan to fully reopen our schools, and other educational settings. Of course, for vulnerable children and those of key workers, schools have remained open and the work of teachers to keep schools open during this time has been very impressive.

Considering reopening all schools is only possible because through all our actions we have managed to get the virus under control. In some parts of the country, the virus is spreading at a very low level and the risk that pupils, teachers and family members face from children going back to school appears very low.

Meanwhile, every day that schools are closed, children miss out on learning and socialising at a vitally important time in their lives. Having children at home all the time is hard on families, especially where children may have additional needs, and will be stopping some parents from getting back to work.

It is important that schools are trusted to take the lead on knowing whether they can open safely.  In a situation like we find ourselves in which could run for many more month’s risks cannot be eliminated but need to be managed responsibly.  I know many local schools are working incredibly hard to see what is possible.