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This is a Government who are working for themselves and no one else. Their economy fails as many as they seek. Underemployment is rife and underfed families a way of life. Away from the cities and the shires, overlooked towns miss out. This is a Government for the market, not the market stall.
Local businesses cannot access new talent. They are hampered by poor public transport. Entrepreneurs, the real wealth creators, are unable to secure funding without putting the family home on the line, and they are paying over the odds for business loans. Food banks and homeless charities have seen a rise in the destitute seeking help, with 30% of all children in east Bury in absolute poverty. Denise—there are many like her—got in touch with me last week. Despite working full time, some days she is unable to feed herself and sits at home in a cold house. There is an overriding sense that decisions taken by the few impact the everyday lives of the many.
Voters put their faith in me in 2017, making history in a seat that always went the way of the Government. They finally have a voice refusing to sponsor the cuts to our town, instead defending and championing improvements to everyday life: saving Bury walk-in centre after local Tories supported its closure; demanding the protection of more green-belt land; convincing bus companies to put on new bus routes; and changing the fortunes of our most vulnerable by seeking access to their entitlements, whether helping children to access their special educational needs and disability support from a depleted education budget or demanding benefits for the terminally ill who have worked all their life and are told by this Government that they are not near enough to death to qualify for their entitlement. I am also delighted today to welcome the news about the campaign for cystic fibrosis sufferers to be able to access Orkambi. This was an issue from my first constituency surgery. I welcome the NHS deal announced today.
However, so much of what is done in Bury is despite the Tory Government, not because of them. In Bury, we keep the faith in each other and we carry on. We keep going, with innovators and enterprising spirits. We are top of the league in Greater Manchester for start-up businesses. Tech companies with investment from California are developing “Silicon Rammy”. Barclays is in partnership with Bury’s schools via Labour’s Bury Council.
However, Bury’s sunlit uplands will not come with a Tory hard Brexit, just as they have not come with the Tory Government who sponsored the hardship for Bury and Britain this last decade. Change will not come from a Government who serve the stock market short-sellers, but short-change Bury and Britain. A £37-million black hole remains in Bury’s NHS funding, with in-year cuts of £12.5 million still to come. Our nurseries, schools and colleges face dire budget straits, and jam tomorrow will not tend to our children’s needs today.
Our beloved football club, Bury FC, faces ruin. It is a town grieving. With 135 years of history in the English football league, it is one of the oldest clubs in English football. Dale, Day, the EFL—culpable. It was bought for £1 and sold down the river. The whole mess confirms a feeling across the country; we value everyday life but it is changing for the worse. Traditions have been lost, with social, economic and cultural capital torn from our town. We now face an identity crisis, but I say: the Shakers will rise again if we keep going. Whenever the general election comes, Bury knows that we have unfinished work to do together. I will ask that they keep their faith in me, as I keep my faith in the work that we will do together—and we will keep going.