Alexander Stafford Column: Funding will help crisis on our high streets
As we emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic, I am getting on with the job I was elected to do: implementing the Prime Minister’s levelling up agenda and creating genuine prosperity and opportunity for every single person in Rother Valley.
Coronavirus has not hindered our levelling up ambitions but has rather made them all the more urgent: the only way to build back better for our economy and for our society is to invest in our communities and in our local people. A key strand of this strategy is the rejuvenation of Rother Valley’s high streets, particularly in towns such as Dinnington, Maltby, Thurcroft, Anston, Swallownest and Kiveton.
The Government has just announced the £4.8 billion levelling up fund to invest in local infrastructure which will have a visible impact on people and their communities.
Rother Valley is in a priority one area and eligible for up to £20 million of funding. This huge pot of money is especially important for left-behind areas across South Yorkshire, because regrettably there is a real crisis on our high streets and in our towns.
Boarded up shop windows, derelict buildings, vandalised street furniture, a dearth of quality retailers, and poor facilities have become the sorry norm for the centres of our communities.
My vision is for our town centres to be beacons of commerce, education, and employment. The initial government investment could be channelled towards new street layouts and brand-new facilities, improving the quality of the spaces for the enjoyment of local residents and acting as the catalyst for private investment from businesses and employers.
Government money, working in tandem with the private sector, will create jobs, increase the amount of money spent locally, and negate the need to go elsewhere for vital services. New local transport schemes would improve connectivity and link up our towns, creating a bubble of prosperity within Rother Valley.
I look forward to working closely with all relevant stakeholders, including residents and businesses, parish and town councils, Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council, and central government to restore our precious high streets and to level up every town in Rother Valley.