BURNLEY’S new Conservative MP has told the House of Commons that the constituency is a place of enterprise for the future.

Making his maiden speech in the Budget debate, Antony Higginbotham, elected on December 12 as the first Tory to represent the borough since 1910, celebrated the town's history but looked forward.

He said: “ I have heard many colleagues speak of how their constituency is the best in the country, but I am confident that once they have all visited this gem of East Lancashire, they will agree that it is Burnley that takes that glorious title.

“Burnley is not a place of what once was, but a place of what will be.

“It has some of the most entrepreneurial people in the country, with more than 425 businesses starting up last year, a college with a centre of engineering excellence and an Oscar-winning sound company. Above all else, it has a community that works hard every day.

“I have already spoken about the entrepreneurial spirit we have in Burnley - the businesses that currently power our town, from Safran to Burnley FC, along with the new ones that are sprouting up.

“In coming here, I want to do my bit to make their lives easier, encouraging even more to set up, drawing on the engineering prowess of the town, the digital skills that we are growing by the day and the fortitude of those who live there.

“The UK is consistently ranked as one of the best places in the world to start a business. My job is to ensure that Burnley is the best place in the UK to do so.”

Mr Higginbotham pledged to continue the campaign of his Labour predecessor Julie Cooper to scrap hospital car parking charges.

In his Budget, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced abolition of charges for patients with a disability or terminal illness and their families, those with regular appointments, parents of sick children staying overnight and NHS staff working night shifts from April.

Mr Higginbotham said: “I also pay tribute to my predecessor Julie Cooper. She was committed to ending hospital parking charges. I look forward to working with the Government to make that aim a reality.”