I WAS deeply disappointed by the news on Thursday that GSK has sold its antibiotics business in Ulverston and Barnard Castle, putting 130 local jobs at risk.

This comes as a real blow to the community and, of course, particularly to those who work there. It is difficult at such a time to look at the bigger picture and to find any positives, but there are some. In the wings are Lakes BioScience who are keen to open a new contract manufacturing plant adjacent to GSK.

We badly need UK sovereign manufacturing capability so my job over the next weeks and months is going to be working with GSK, the community, and Government to make the site attractive to buyers and secure a good legacy for GSK and its employees, preferably in the same kind of business.

I have been working with colleagues to understand what the alternatives might be to get the economy going again when we begin to bounce back from the pandemic. I am lobbying for a move to a proportional property tax, scrapping council tax and stamp duty in the process.

Another option, which would breathe life back into our high streets, would be lower and more flexible business rates. Both of these possibilities would involve radical changes to the current system but, as that system is not working so well for us at the moment, I have asked the Chancellor to look at these proposals.

On a positive note, on Thursday I stopped off at Askam GP Surgery, prior to them opening up on Monday. It was great to see the amazing work that the team has been doing.

Finally, last week being Apprenticeship Week, on Friday I underwent my annual apprenticeship challenge drubbing at the hands of Furness College principal, Andrew Wren.

Last year was a Hair and Beauty challenge, and this year was be an online quiz. The result was closer this year, so maybe 2022 will be the one for me.

Congratulations are also due to Sharon Dobie from Ulverston for winning this year’s Gen2 Apprenticeship Award.