Simon Danczuk MP

Fighting for Rochdale, Littleborough and Milnrow

Letter from Parliament 25 September

We’ve seen some fantastic events take place across our Borough this year with the Tour de France and Feel Good Festival notable highlights. These have been great adverts for the Borough, showing Rochdale at its best and giving our local economy a big boost. And to complete a hat-trick we now have the fantastic Rochdale Literature and Ideas Festival to look forward to in October.​

Now in its second year this festival is starting to earn a reputation as a gritty alternative to some of the more stuffy literature festivals out there. I’ve been particularly impressed by the breadth and depth of the programme. There really is something for everyone. From Willy Russell and Jackie Kay to Ian McMillan and Dave Spikey, it promises to be a great weekend of cultural gems.

What’s developing here is essentially a very different approach to regenerating our Borough. In an age of austerity it would be daft to think there’s an endless supply of taxpayers money to continue to throw at massive physical public regeneration projects that cost hundreds of millions of pounds. Physical regeneration is still important but it can’t be the only tool in the box. Cultural regeneration often blazes a trail for significant private sector regeneration to follow. You have to think differently and I’m really pleased that the council is now firmly focused on showcasing the very best of our Borough, getting behind the kind of events that inject real confidence into our communities and starting to build a strong cultural base that defines Rochdale’s identity as a distinctive Pennine town.

It’s this identity that needs to shine through to bring investment into Rochdale and it’s already starting to pay dividends as new businesses continue to relocate and invest here. I’ve always been of the view that our town’s heritage, talent and culture have not been promoted enough and that is finally beginning to change. Only the other night I popped into my local pub after work and met Lisa Stansfield at the bar. How many other towns are you likely to bump into a northern icon when buying a pint?

There are not many other towns that have some of the great heritage we have either. That’s why I’m delighted to hear of plans to restore our town hall to its full Victorian splendour. There are many challenges facing our borough but increasing civic pride should be near the top of the list.

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