It feels like only yesterday I became leader of Burnley Council but in fact it has now been 10 months.
Many people have said to me there could not have been a worse time to come into power. I would agree the challenges are great. Over the last two years Burnley’s funding from Government has been cut by 39% and this year we are facing additional cuts of 17%.
This is not, however, a time to wring our hands in despair. This is not a time to focus on problems. It is a time to find solutions.
A Burnley Express reader recently asked about the achievements of the new Labour Council. So what has this new Labour council achieved since coming to power in May 2012?
We have kept all our election promises. We have protected frontline services and have done our utmost to protect local people from the worst effects of the Government cuts.
In addition we have worked hard to make Burnley and Padiham better places to live and work. The following are some of our very specific achievements:
• We have established an investment programme to support business to ensure growth, safeguard existing jobs and create new jobs.
• We have introduced a Community Energy scheme to help residents achieve savings on their gas and electricity bills. To register to save visit www.peoplepower.co.uk or phone the council on 01282 425011
• We have set up a military covenant and support network for former service people and their families. The covenant allows us to access funds from the Ministry of Defence. Burnley as a former barracks town has a proud history of military service. It is important when local people return to civilian life they get maximum support.
• We have introduced an old people’s champion to ensure proper consideration is given to the needs of senior citizens in our town.
• We have introduced the Living Wage. This means all people employed by Burnley Council are paid a minimum of £7.45 per hour. I believe very strongly that hard-working people should not have to rely on benefits to make ends meet.
I have been determined from the outset that we should do more than just manage cuts and have been very clear we would always keep our promises.
I believe we have demonstrated even in very difficult times this Labour council is making a positive difference.
This has all been achieved by prudent management of limited funds and without any increased borrowing.
I know there is so much more to do and because it really is a privilege to be leader of Burnley Council I will continue to work hard with my councillor colleagues to deliver the very best for the people of the borough.
COUN. JULIE COOPER
LEADER of BURNLEY COUNCIL