It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr McCabe. I congratulate my right hon. Friend David Hanson on securing this important debate.
Something happened to me last night that illustrates the importance of this debate. I was talking to a colleague of mine who represents, shall we say, a more prosperous south Manchester seat. I told him I was going to speak about Heywood and Middleton’s rich cultural heritage, and his response was, “What are you going to talk about for the other 59 minutes?” He probably had not envisaged how popular the debate would be—I actually have only two minutes, so in the other minute I have left I will talk about the rich cultural heritage of Heywood and Middleton.
Even the Wetherspoon pub in Heywood is named after the Lancashire dialect poet Edwin Waugh. Steve Coogan was born in Middleton. The Chameleons and the Courteeners are famous bands born and bred in Middleton. Julie Goodyear, also known as Bet Lynch, was born in Heywood and still lives there. We have Middleton Arena, a fantastic cultural hub that is currently rolling out a new programme of National Theatre live broadcasts, making theatre from here in London accessible to residents in my constituency. We have Heywood Civic Centre, a venue providing a programme of live events and community participation, aiming to become a borough-wide hub for community-led cultural participation and creation.
We have my friend, Labour councillor Kallum Nolan, who has made a film about Sam Bamford, the radical who led the march from Middleton to Peterloo—the film is a rival to Mike Leigh’s film, “Peterloo”—and used local people as actors. We have Cartwheel Arts, based in Heywood, and we have the architecture of Edgar Wood, who left Middleton with a fine collection of historical buildings, immortalised in a recent film, “A Painted Veil”, made by Middleton filmmaker Anthony Dolan and which I was proud to host in Parliament last year.
I wish I had more time to talk about the artistic and cultural activities that go on in my wonderful constituency. I will finish by saying that I cannot wait to enter Heywood and Middleton for the newly-founded town of culture award.