Simon Danczuk MP

Fighting for Rochdale, Littleborough and Milnrow

Letter from Parliament 06 November

Usually around this time in the Parliamentary cycle, with a General Election six months away, weak Governments start to make rash promises and cobble together some sort of plan to pretend they’re making real progress. That is exactly the case with this Government and nothing illustrates this more than George Osborne’s claim this week to be building a “northern powerhouse”. 

Here in Rochdale we’ve certainly not had the ‘powerhouse’ treatment from Government. Osborne and Cameron have treated us more like a northern punch bag. 

Just look at the facts. Firstly, Rochdale Council has faced some of the worst cuts in local government. While Tory leafy shire councils have been spared the axe and in some cases actually had an increase to their budgets, ours have been brutally slashed. Services have suffered as a result and jobs have been lost. 

Secondly, our small business community has been clobbered by the biggest business rates increase in 20 years and taxes have been deliberately kept artificially high. The Government cancelled a much-needed revaluation of business rates just to protect London businesses from having to pay an increase in their rates. This has resulted in a number of high street businesses in Rochdale being forced to close, as some are paying three times more than their rent in business rates. 

Thirdly, Rochdale has become one of the top ten towns and cities in the country with the most asylum seekers because the Government are sending large numbers here simply to take advantage of cheap accommodation in the town. This is a very short-sighted and unfair policy, which is putting pressure on public services that have already been significantly cut and also putting pressure on community relations. 

I could go on, but it’s clear that this is bad politics all round. That said, I’m proud of the fightback our town is leading with many people achieving great things despite the Government’s contempt for our town. 

One great example of this is Rochdale Sixth Form College, which since its launch a few years ago has rapidly become a national success story. I was delighted today to introduce Labour’s shadow secretary of state for education, Tristram Hunt, to the college principal, Julian Appleyard, and give him a tour of the facilities. 

He saw for himself how we are helping students achieve and lifting the aspirations of the whole community. In the long term this will make Rochdale a much smarter, dynamic town that can shape its own future.

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