The decision to grant planning permission for a new Health Centre is fantastic news for patients and the NHS in Ashton in Makerfield.
It follows a long campaign started by my predecessor, Sir Ian McCartney which I continued on my election in 2010.
Along the way we have had many ups and downs, not least in the last Parliament when the coalition government’s Health & Social Care Act, which introduced the most wide-ranging reforms of the NHS since it was founded in 1948 effectively halted progress.
Ashton is the third largest town in the borough and a new health facility will assist in improving the health and wellbeing of residents and could act as a catalyst for the further regeneration of the town.
As always with projects of this magnitude, there continues to be a huge amount of work to get right including limiting the impact on residents and businesses during the construction phase but this is a great start to the New Year.
In 2010 I also pledged to campaign for a similar facility for Orrell.
I have met with NHS officials and remain hopeful of progress on this matter this year.
Ashton is also celebrating yet another considerable investment with the announcement of a £2.8m upgrade to facilities at Ashton Leisure Centre.
The Old Road site will thanks to a £2.8m investment from Wigan Council be given a makeover during the next 12 months bringing it right up to date with the latest equipment in an expanded gym and a new spin studio for instructor and virtual classes.
There will also be a new fitness studio, a new 3G synthetic pitch, new multi-use games area, new changing rooms with a sauna and steam suite and new and improved parking facilities.
Last week in Parliament, MPs were asked to trigger Article 50 to begin the process of the UK leaving the European Union.
There are big issues involved in our withdrawal that matter to everyone in every part of our country, and I believe the Government must be able to provide clear answers to questions on these issues.
Our withdrawal from the EU is the most important issue facing our country for generations and it is crucial that we secure the best outcome for all of us.
I am a democrat.
The people have spoken, and they’ve said we are leaving the European Union.
Across the nation 52 per cent voted to leave and in Wigan over 60 per cent of the borough voted to leave.
The Brexit process will be based on two phases, the first being withdrawal, under article 50, the second end-state, under article 218.
Withdrawal determines the details of the divorce; end-state determines our future relationship with the EU, as a non-EU country.
The article 218 phase is where the big questions such as access to the single market and reforms to freedom of movement will be decided.
That’s why I will not veto or seek to stall the triggering of article 50.
In Parliament, Labour have repeatedly emphasised that they will not frustrate or delay the Article 50 process and the motion tabled in December last year, which I backed endorsed a pre-exiting timetable to start Brexit negotiations by the end of March 2017.
Moving forward we must now become one nation – we cannot allow the debate to be seen in the context of the vote last June.
We are leaving the EU and it is for all political parties in Parliament to work to ensure that our country prospers in a post Brexit world.