Politicians constantly have to look to the future, but we should always keep one eye on the past as well. Drawing from our rich heritage and learning from best practice is the right way to keep a strong local identity and encourage civic pride.
That’s why I’m pleased to see the beginnings of a new market culture taking shape in Rochdale.
While the move from the Exchange could have been managed better, I’m a firm believer that we need to re-establish Rochdale as a proud Pennine market town.
Looking through pictures of our past in the local studies section at Touchstones it quickly becomes apparent that Rochdale used to have a great, thriving outdoor market. I tweeted one of these pictures recently and got a fantastic response. People were impressed at the sight of hordes of shoppers. Can we recreate the same buzz in a different age where consumer habits have changed and technology disrupted the old high street model? It won’t be easy but there are plenty of places that prove this is possible and markets are still very attractive for shoppers after bargains and a sense of community.
With less than 100 days to go before the General Election, voters will soon struggle to turn on a TV and not see a politician on their screen. There is a huge amount at stake and I’m pleased that a local debate has already been organised, where I’m looking forward to debating with my opponents about the key issues facing Rochdale and the country.
This election could well be the closest in a generation and voters need to be absolutely clear on what each party stands for, as this time some of the minor parties could have a say in the balance of power.
That’s why it’s so important that parties like the Greens and UKIP are subject to the same level of scrutiny as the mainstream parties. We’ve already started to see the real face of UKIP, as it’s now emerged that they’re entertaining the idea of replacing the NHS with an American-style system of private health insurance.
This would be a disaster.
And we also now know the Greens believe it’s not a crime to belong to terrorist organisations like Islamic State, Al Qaida or the IRA.
Furthermore, they want an economy that doesn’t grow, or better still has negative growth. This is lunacy. Terrorism and recession is not a future anyone wants and that’s why every vote counts.