Author Archives: Lorely Burt

Lorely Burt writes: A real step change in connectivity for the West Midlands

As we start party conference, it is slightly odd not to have to pack a bag, book train tickets or google where to eat at the seaside. This year I’m thinking about what kind of snacks I need for our marathon online conference!

But this year, as we embark on Ed Davey’s first conference as leader, I believe we are in a good place as a party – strong, united and ready for a year of action and growth.  In my own part of the world, in the West Midlands we are ready too.

But as I look around the region, I see the impact of coronavirus and I worry about the potential long-term scarring for the young, those on the margins, the vulnerable and elderly. The rebuilding must start now. We need to create jobs and invest in our communities, and avoid returning back to the days of austerity.

Before COVID-19, the West Midlands was one of the fastest growing economies in Europe. The upcoming Budget and Comprehensive Spending Review offers us an opportunity to finally force the government to put fuel into the Midlands Engine. As the former MP and now Baroness Burt of Solihull, I back any sustainable infrastructure investment that can improve the lives of people living and working within the region. Midlands Connect, the strategic transport body for the Midlands, has developed a rail scheme with its partners that should deliver a real step-change in rail connectivity to Birmingham International and Coventry railway stations.

The ‘Birmingham Airport Connectivity’ project is central to fulfilling the region’s levelling-up agenda, aiding the region’s green economic recovery following the COVID-19 pandemic by supporting enterprise, development and regeneration across a number of important growth sites across the West Midlands. It will deliver new, direct rail services to Birmingham International and Coventry stations for over 2 million people, including those living in and around Derby, Sheffield, Doncaster, York, Darlington, Durham and Newcastle. Plus it’ll create an extra service an hour from Leamington Spa, Banbury, Oxford and Reading to Birmingham International and Coventry.

Birmingham International railway station is at the epicentre of a number of nationally-important assets including; Birmingham Airport, the second busiest airport in the UK outside London; the National Exhibition Centre; Resorts World arena and shopping park; and Jaguar Land Rover’s Solihull plant. Close by, the arrival of the HS2 Interchange station is stimulating huge investment and regeneration. To realise the full benefits of this transformational opportunity, the Urban Growth Company is promoting investment in 140 hectares of mixed-use development at ‘UK Central’, set to create up to 5,000 new homes, 650,000 square metres of commercial space and support 70,000 new and existing jobs.

Posted in News | Tagged , and | 5 Comments

Lorely Burt writes: We can’t call ourselves a democracy when men monopolise public life

The theme for International Women’s Day 2017 is ‘Be Bold for Change’ – this got me thinking about how we, as Liberal Democrats, can do our bit to help forge a better and more gender equal world. Of course, as a party we have already taken a great leap forward for the future to make sure we reflect the diversity of the country with the ‘Electing Diverse MPs’ motion passed almost a year ago. But as individuals what can we do to make sure that more women get involved and active in the party at every level?

It was less than six months ago that we, both men and women pulling together, managed to get Sarah Olney elected to Parliament. Like many of you there was a defining moment that made her join the Liberal Democrats and get stuck in, but we have to remember that not all women will put themselves forward like that and some may need more encouragement than others. We all have a responsibility to reach out to those women we think would make great Liberal Democrat elected representatives, and let’s face it we can all think of one or two. The evidence is clear – if a woman is approached to stand then she is most likely to consider it.

Change will not happen overnight, it will take all our efforts to make these incremental changes. Let us never be complacent, as this year’s theme reminds us – we must be bold. We are a country that prides itself on being progressive and inclusive – yet Parliament, our country’s highest decision-making body, is only 30% female.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 9 Comments

Lorely Burt MP writes… Freelancers: championing and protecting the little guy

You don’t need me to tell you that things are tough out there for small businesses. I know: having run several small businesses and having previously been our party’s Small Business spokesperson. The UK’s 4.5 million Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) make a huge contribution to our economy, but today they are caught in a perfect storm between contracting markets, a failure of banks to lend, and late payments.  The result of these problems is that many viable small businesses have sadly failed.

There is however one sector of small business that is growing. Over the last three years we have …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 5 Comments

Opinion: Have you ever felt ripped off by your bank?

Have you ever felt ripped off by your bank? I’m not talking about the scandal of banker irresponsibility which has helped land us into the deepest recession in living memory. I’m talking about the sense of injustice you feel when you get your statement to discover you’ve been charged outrageous fees for having stepped over an agreed overdraft limit.

If this has happened to you, you’re in good company. Which? estimated that we paid over £4bn in unauthorised bank charges last year, averaging £120 from each one of us. If you go over your limit, even by a few pence, you’ll …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 18 Comments
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