It’s only right that I start this week’s column by addressing what has been on our television screens since Monday. It’s something I need to comment on as I share the anger of residents.
Throughout 2020 and 2021 we were all making sacrifices; unable to grieve together, celebrate together, or even see each other. And that includes me. I too missed out on seeing friends and family, I celebrated my birthday alone and especially felt for my mother when the family could not properly grieve the death of a family members of ours. Nobody was exempt. But whilst it was hard, we all understood why it was necessary.
That’s why I share the anger, frustration and disappointment of residents at what has come to light about events in Downing Street in May 2020. I sat in PMQs this Wednesday, and listened to the Prime Minister’s response to all of this. And whilst I will wait for the report from Sue Gray, I am very clear that there must be consequences.
You may have seen that I was also given an opportunity to ask a question, where I focused on education, something which I was disappointingly attacked for by the Labour Leader of the Council. Whilst I expect as much, it is my view that gaining tangible benefits for residents is more important than repeating the same points.
An opportunity to ask a question in PMQs is few and far between and so using it to focus on the latest news surrounding the Prime Minister’s conduct did not feel the best use of my question given the many he was asked on the subject.
Instead, I focused on an important matter for Burnley and Padiham – increasing the opportunities available to residents through improved educational facilities. And in doing so I gained a Government commitment to keep driving up standards and opportunities here in our borough so that the skills and education we are providing is fit for the 21st century.
Our children and young people deserve the very best education, from when they enter nursery, primary school through to going to college or university. That's how we ensure life chances are truly transformed in the long term and that is why it's essential that we get the Government on board with our local mission.
And that mission is really taking shape. Burnley College has now had confirmation that it is set to receive Government funding of £2.2 million to enable investment in new equipment as it becomes an Institute of Technology, joining 12 that have already been established in areas including London and Birmingham.
That means courses relating to energy, advanced manufacturing and construction will be rolled out for residents in Burnley and Padiham, giving our young people more opportunities to gain valuable skills fit for the future. And today I’ll be visiting the College to speak with staff and students to see the expansion that has already taken place over the last 12 months for myself, as a result of the roll out of T-Levels.
So whilst I can completely understand the mood at the moment and share the feelings of the vast majority of residents, I’ll keep focused on delivering my promises for Burnley and Padiham.