Productivity: Rural Areas

Part of RAF Valley: Funding and Employment – in Westminster Hall at 5:19 pm on 14th October 2020.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Richard Drax Richard Drax Conservative, South Dorset 5:19 pm, 14th October 2020

It is a pleasure to be called by you, Ms Ghani. I thank my hon. Friend Scott Mann for introducing this great debate on our countryside. I have two minutes, so it has to be a list, for which I apologise to the Minister. I suspect that the Government have heard a lot of it before.

I have two seaside resorts in my constituency: Swanage and Weymouth—and the Isle of Portland; I must never forget that. We are heavily resort-based, and we need some love and investment. We have large pockets of deprivation in my seat of South Dorset. Although we are extremely grateful for the huge sums of money we have received for the Weymouth Pavilion, Swanage railway and the Tank Museum, adding up to about £1.25 million from various sources, I am afraid that we need more.

I initiated a business panel, because I think business people are better at promoting what we need than politicians, because a lot of my constituents do not agree with what I say, understandably. This panel is now looking at what we will need for the next 30 to 50 years, in which I would include—I will push the Government hard on this—a road north. We cannot get out of Dorset and Hampshire; we have to go to the A34. This is utter madness. We need a relief road in Weymouth, so that the port can expand, which it is already doing, creating huge numbers of jobs.

As colleagues have said, we need better connectivity with broadband and mobile, which is currently appalling. Weymouth College is the only place where young people in my seat can aspire to move on to better careers, university and all the things that are so important for the young. We need more money to bring this college, which is doing a fantastic job, up to the standard that is required to deliver that opportunity to the young.

Finally, a forgotten element is the outdoor education centres. I know that is not the Minister’s responsibility. Schools are not sending children there. They should be allowed to because they are safe and bubbled, and children should be able to enjoy a day out in the countryside.