It is clear that since being elected, the Government is driving its ‘Levelling up’ agenda. Some may argue that they are doing this for political gain, to secure the new blue wall. Aside from the obvious (to most) fact that those seats wouldn’t have fallen had they not been deserted by the Labour party, it is a short sighted way of looking at things. In the Workington constituency, developing our economy, connecting our rural areas and improving our infrastructure is far more important to me than political motivation.
The levelling up agenda gives towns and counties, predominantly in the North, the confidence, tools and ability to sell themselves, locally, nationally and internationally.
It has been clear to me through discussions with Government, that they are acutely aware that the whole country contributes to the success of Britain. In my view, the Government has set a difficult but hugely advantageous agenda for northern counties such as Cumbria, that have historically been left behind. I want to make sure we embrace this agenda to improve our opportunities, influence the national conversation and to help Cumbria to make an even larger contribution to Britain’s success.
For this to happen, we must grab this opportunity with both hands. Historically, Cumbria has suffered through poor leadership. It has been over-governed and under-led. The county is in the process of local government reform and I am a huge advocate for two unitary authorities in Cumbria. However the ultimate prize for us would be to have an elected Mayor - tasked with driving economic growth in our county, providing strategic leadership and selling Cumbria to Britain and the rest of the world.
My constituency, along with other parts of Cumbria, are beginning to benefit directly from Westminster’s Levelling up agenda. Recent successes include grant awards for the Workington Town Deal and Maryport High Street Fund which are just two examples totalling nearly £35 million of investment into the Workington constituency.
Just as the Government has an agenda for levelling up Britain by not leaving any part of the country behind, so too do I. I fight equally for each town and community in my constituency. Workington constituency benefits from the individuality of its towns and I know that a one size fits all model will not work. Retaining the individual identities of our towns, whilst finding ways to develop local economies, improve community facilities and provide better infrastructure, is a challenge when different areas have such different requirements. However, we are well- placed to meet this challenge.
I have supported a number of bids for communities, local authorities and businesses to develop our local economies, to expand and to provide better training opportunities locally, and I will continue to do so.
It is apparent to me as I visit businesses, schools and organisations that I am not alone as I strive for the Workington constituency, and for Cumbria as a whole to succeed. It is vitally important that we work together to drive change. Our communities, businesses, towns and county will benefit and I think that is something we can all welcome.