I am delighted that Wigan has already had a commitment, from national Government, for a £16m funding boost from the Future High Streets Fund. This is a big chunk from the £102m of funding that is going to be shared across the North West and shows our commitment to the people of Wigan.
My constituency is split between the Wigan and Bolton Boroughs which can sometimes cause problems with working between the two Councils. With the Government’s Levelling Up Fund, I was approached almost immediately by Bolton Council with their plans for the bids across Bolton – they were all great plans that deserve support.
Unfortunately, the leadership at Wigan Council, who need to lead on this, decided to give up on Atherton before they even seemed to try. They did not approach me for support and there is an excellent regeneration plan for Atherton that they could have developed and championed.
They refused to even enter Atherton into the Mayoral high street bid because they said the town needed too much work doing to it, so they knew the need was there.
Bolton, in fact, has not put in a bid for funding in my constituency so Wigan Council leaders have missed a huge opportunity to support local residents. MPs can and do support a number of bids so it is not true to say that I could not or would not support my constituents.
The Labour leadership on Wigan Council have not put in a Levelling Up Fund bid for the Leigh or Makerfield constituencies either. I want the best for Wigan town, but the local council leadership has to remember that they have to look after the rest of the Borough as well. Wigan has the High Streets Fund and a great chance with the Levelling Up Fund but no one else has anything.
Speaking of being treated as second class citizens, Nicola Sturgeon is manoeuvring to put us under a trade embargo and to systematically target us for exclusion from Scotland.
Devolution is increasingly becoming toxic as extremist leaders seek to manipulate their electorate for their own political advantage and advancement.
Other than a few people with vested interests, I rarely hear that devolution and the creation of a new tier of politicians is a good idea.
We need more localism with powers going to the established local authorities rather than these pointless and divisive devolved administrations, whether they are in Scotland or across England.
I realise that I am in a small minority, but I believe that I am right to have voted against the continuation of lockdowns. Labour have consistently backed the lockdown agenda even when the case for it is looking weaker by the day.
My view on this was reinforced by the sudden increase in hospital waiting lists. Before the recent vote to extend lockdown, I said that dealing with the five million strong hospital waiting list was the priority and that I believed that the list should be far larger as many people had not been able to see their GP to get a referral.
Days afterwards, it was announced that the real figure should have been 12.2 million. Every delay in a return to normality is a delay in being able to focus on this monumental challenge, That the Labour frontbench never challenged the Government on this and left it to Conservatives to do so is astonishing.
The delay would have been very disappointing to many businesses as well. It is positive that some return to normality is happening but many parents believe that the situation is still awful.
Children suffer almost no impact from Covid-19 but suffer enormously under lockdown. Their education has been disrupted to an extreme extent and the maintenance of aspects of lockdown means that they are still being sent home on a regular basis. Normal schooling is still a long way off.
The narrative is being built up that lockdown cannot end until children have been double vaccinated, and that compulsory vaccination should be introduced.
When the vaccination and other health programmes have been so successful, why is the light at the end of the tunnel still so distant?