Simon Danczuk MP

Fighting for Rochdale, Littleborough and Milnrow

Letter from Parliament 19 June

It’s only right that I start by addressing the negative headlines of the last week. It’s well known by now that my first wife spoke to the tabloids to say I’d taken recreational drugs in my past. When confronted by tabloid journalists I decided the right and proper way to deal with this was to be honest. This was after all many years ago and has no bearing on my duties as Member of Parliament now. I’m not proud of this, but it’s a part of my past. It’s regrettable that some people wish to attack me like this, but I’ve always been clear to people that I have not spent my whole life trying to be a politician. I’m not a political careerist who’s glided into parliament – I’m an ordinary person who believes in the power of politics.

I’ve seen first hand how the power of politics can make a big difference. My caseload has extended to thousands of people and while we can’t solve every problem more often than not we make a positive impact. During my time as Rochdale’s MP I’ve worked hard to make politics matter locally – whether it be giving a voice to victims of abuse who have been ignored by police and other authorities or trying to champion small businesses that feel side-lined by government.

Politics has to reach out to everyone and try and give them a stake in our community. That’s one of the challenges I know the new Council leader, Richard Farnell, is grappling with, particularly where Rochdale town centre is concerned. There are far too many people in our Borough who do not use the town centre and we’ve got to work hard to reverse this trend. In recent years there has been a frustrating sense of drift by the Council on regeneration and that is going to change. Richard is looking very closely at how a revamped outdoor market could start to reinvigorate the town and create the right social environment for it to flourish.

This is an important stepping stone to putting the town centre back at the heart of the community. A vibrant market will always be attractive and it’s long overdue that we reclaim our heritage as a proud Pennine market town. This is about getting our priorities right. Thriving street markets generate more civic pride than flashy new council buildings. You cannot take a town forward without building community spirit – and that will be a priority from now on.

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