This week marks ten years since I was first elected to represent Pendle as our MP. It was, and remains, the greatest privilege to have been elected to serve our area, and subsequently re-elected on three occasions, each with an increased level of support from residents.
A lot has changed during those years, much of it for the better. It can be hard to think back to how bad the situation facing our country was at that time. With our national finances in a mess, unemployment rising and our town centres growing ever emptier, the circumstances seemed bleak with political parties debating which public services to cut to fix the crisis, and how fast.
Aside from the economy the biggest concern in 2010 was the continuing removal of services from Burnley Hospital, which had lost its A&E Department in 2007 and seen a range of other services transferred to Blackburn. I am proud that since 2010 we have reversed that trend with over £60 million invested creating a new Urgent Care Centre, new Cancer Unit and most recently the new Phase 8 development.
We have also seen four new schools move into brand new buildings and the number of pupils receiving good or outstanding rated education in Pendle has doubled. In Brierfield, the long-derelict Mills are now back in use with a range of facilities, driving the area’s regeneration. This was all kick started by Government funding I secured back in 2012 to bring the site into public ownership.
I’ve also made transport a priority. A major study on improving our road links is reporting this year and the plan to reopen the Colne-Skipton rail line make further progress towards becoming a reality. Transport remains, the biggest long-term issue holding Pendle back that we need to solve.
Tragically, we again face crisis today. Though very different from the financial crisis, the Covid-19 outbreak is also proving devastating especially to those who have lost loved ones to this disease. It’s effects will be with us for many years to come.
However, what being your MP for ten years has taught me is that Pendle can come through these difficult times. We saw off the financial crisis and will see off this one. I remain convinced that our area’s future is bright and remain as determined as ever to work to make that a reality.