Simon Danczuk MP

Fighting for Rochdale, Littleborough and Milnrow

Letter from Parliament 1 July

It has been a turbulent week in Parliament to say the least, with MPs dealing with the fallout of the European Union referendum and internal divisions in both the Conservative and Labour parties.

With so much going on, the usually raucous Prime Minister's Question Time was much more subdued than normal.

Nevertheless, I was delighted to get the chance to quiz David Cameron and I would like to thank all my constituents who took the time to contact me and suggest a question.

Proposals ranged from the future of the UK economy to animal welfare legislation. In the end, I opted to raise an issue which I believe is essential to the future of Rochdale - the ongoing regeneration of our town centre.

Sadly, this project suffered a blow earlier this year when the Heritage Lottery Fund rejected a bid to renovate our iconic Grade I listed town hall. The grant would have provided funds to restore the building and transform it into a vibrant community hub.

Regrettably the HLF, which takes direction from the Government, instead opted to provide significant funding to five projects based in the South of England.

I chose to raise this question for two reasons. Not only is the future of our town hall an important local issue but the priorities of the HLF point to a broader failing in British politics. That there has been such a disproportionate distribution of heritage funding speaks volumes about the priorities of the HLF, and the Government as a whole.

The divide does not stop at arts and heritage funding. Despite decades of Government platitudes, the gaps in income, living standards and life expectancy betwean North and South remain and, in some cases, are growing.

Is it any wonder that voters in Rochdale, and across the North of England, are feeling increasingly isolated from Westminster politics?

We need leaders on both sides of the house who understand, and speak for, all commuites outside the London bubble.

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