The East Lancashire Railway is a fantastic heritage asset for our area but is so much more. It is ranked as the third largest heritage railway nationally in passenger numbers, with over 200,000 who spend money in the wider local economy.

There are 50 full-time employees together with 700 volunteers and provide a wide range of services and opportunities that benefit our community; for example, 5,200 school children visited the line and transport museum over the last 12 months.

ELR is determined to create a lasting impact and play a central role in the government’s levelling up agenda. The Buckley Wells site includes the world’s longest continuously in-use loco shed. The outfit hopes to make this historic building the heart of a unique heritage, mechanical engineering site. If the project is successful, our town will house a facility of national significance, creating new direct employment in highly skilled and technical occupations. There would be new opportunities for apprenticeships and training programmes in engineering and manufacturing.

To realise this vision, £10-£12m of additional funding is needed. I will do everything I can to assist all stakeholders in a shared commitment to deliver positive change in our town. Everyone at the ELR must be thanked for their hard work and dedication.

We must never underestimate our area's potential. Through targeted financial investment, we can ensure everyone has access to those facilities and opportunities that will change lives for the better. I worked with Bury Council to secure £20m from the government’s Levelling Up Fund to drive regeneration in Bury town centre and support our brilliant market. I continue to support Bury College and the University of Salford in their bid for Institute of Technology Status, which will create further educational and skills training opportunities for young people to maximise their potential.

I will work with the brilliant team at Ramsbottom Co-Op Hall Heritage Trust in their application for government funding to restore this unique building from the 1870s to its former glory.

I will continue my campaign to deliver a special educational needs hub locally to ensure some of the most vulnerable in our area have equal opportunities to thrive through integrated service support.

As this is my last column of the year, can I wish all my constituents a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. I will do everything I can over the next 12 months to deliver positive change for everyone in Bury North.