After a relaxing holiday week, I was keen to get back to Burnley and back to business. My first Monday morning involved a catch-up and then lots of constituent appointments. As usual, these were all varied in nature and I am always keen to get onto things straight away.
On the Monday afternoon I visited Doric FPD Limited. As a Burnley based manufacturer of cakeboards, cake decorations and specialist food packaging, they are a large employer in our town employing over 170 local people and I was hugely impressed with the company. After buying out long-established Food Packaging & Cakeboards a few years ago, they have doubled their turnover and are very much a growing business and real success story.
I was also delighted to learn of the positive impact of the programme the “Great British Bakeoff” has on their turnover and the baking industry as a whole. The boom it has created is fantastic and I look forward to the programme returning!
On Tuesday I had an important meeting with Mark Brearley, chief executive of the East Lancashire NHS Hospital Trust, to catch up following the Keogh Review in which the Trust was involved. We discussed the steps the Keogh Review had indicated been implemented and Mr Brearley indicated changes have already been made which I was happy to hear. He also acknowledged that when the new Emergency Unit opens in Burnley which I managed to secure, this will take pressure of the Accident and Emergency Unit at Blackburn. We also talked about proposals to bring back a number of services to Burnley which would be great news for our town.
On Wednesday I had a great visit to the Rolls-Royce Bankfield site in Barnoldswick. It was great to be shown round by managers and tour the incredible facilities and machinery. As I walked through the site, I was impressed with everything I saw. Around 1,000 people work for Rolls-Royce in Barnoldswick, producing Wide Chord Fan Blades for aero engines, which have been produced in Barnoldswick since their development in the early 1970s. With my own interest in advanced manufacturing it was an incredible visit and Rolls-Royce at Barnoldswick is certainly a jewel in the crown. In addition to the people they employ directly, Rolls-Royce spent £41m. on goods and services in Pendle last year making a huge contribution to the local aerospace supply chain. This is incredible for the area as a whole.
I then went to Coldwell Activity Centre to see some of the young people participating in the National Citizen Service Program. This is a great program that has been working with Burnley Football Club and the Challenge Network. It was a preview of the presentations I was seeing the next day during a Dragons Den challenge and it was great to meet the kids and enjoy a cake with them.
On Thursday, I was then a Dragon at Burnley College, although I like to think I was a bit friendlier than the ones on television! As one of the four dragons, we listened to five teams pitch their ideas for a community action day which all focused on different issues. I was hugely impressed with the quality of presentations and great ideas the young people had come up with. The two groups I got involved with were a group focusing on volunteering for young people. I thought this was great as it can really help out when seeking employment. I was also impressed by one of the groups who are looking at promoting growth and improvement in Burnley. Instead of it being seen as a place of deprivation, it should be shown as ‘up and coming’ I fully agree as our town is fantastic and both were awarded the £80 they asked for.
I was also fortunate enough to go to St Cuthbert’s Church for the induction of the new vicar. He is an extremely pleasant and understanding young man and it was a pleasure to meet him along with his family.