EMMA LEWELL-BUCK: The Government knows what we need; they just don’t care
The Government recently released their Levelling Up paper yet even prior to its release, the Secretary of State responsible derided it as rubbish.
The resulting 300-page document was a history lesson, full of nonsense about Jericho and the Roman Empire. It did include an acknowledgement of the chronic lack of investment in some parts of our country, but it offered no solutions for these areas. Worse still, the confirmation that our communities have been held back is a direct result of the last 12 years of Tory rule. This is now a pretence of levelling up, because they have spent their years in power actively levelling down.
It is insulting to communities like ours to be offered no new money, no ideas, and no details. After waiting for over two years for these so-called plans, we now are supposed to be grateful that we must wait another eight years until 2030 for the Government to level us up.
If this was a serious plan to invest in places like South Shields, then why were we only mentioned once? London was mentioned 260 times. If this was a serious plan to invest in areas of need, then why have this Government’s various funds only returned to Northern communities £1 for every £12, they have taken from us?
We know from the Towns Fund and Future High Streets Fund that pork barrel politics has ensured that money has disproportionally gone to areas held by Tory MPs or Mayors. We know that recently they used £330,000 of this public money for a private driveway a former Tory Peer.
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It now appears that the Government are going to try and force more devolution on us. Changes in governance don’t necessarily grow our economy, but they certainly create more layers of bureaucracy and absolve the Government of any responsibility or blame.
We know what we need in South Shields. Better transport links, more skills training, regeneration of our town centre, employment, and enough money for people to live on. The Government know this too, they just don’t care enough to do anything about it.