This week’s column comes after a mightily impressive England victory against the Germans - the first in a knockout tournament since 1966. We’ve seen a swelling of pride in the team and the nation, with the one clear message that it’s coming home.
It’s coming home to a country that’s building back better. That’s on the road to recovery from the pandemic with major initiatives like the Levelling Up Fund that will unlock the potential of towns like Radcliffe.
A couple of weeks ago saw the deadline for bids for the Levelling Up Fund to be submitted to the Government. Having worked with the Radcliffe Regeneration Delivery Board and the Council, a strong bid for £20m for the regeneration of Radcliffe town centre was submitted.
This would see the creation of new leisure and civic facilities in the heart of the town replacing those functions that the town has been missing for several years. With cross-party support and a focus on delivering for the town, it feels like Radcliffe is no longer the forgotten town in the borough. The bid centres on what can be done to revitalise the hub of the community, which the excellent work of the market started.
Back in February the Education Secretary made the long-awaited decision ton see a new high school built in Radcliffe.
Together the Levelling Up Fund and the new High School are opening-up huge and exciting opportunities for our town – giving our area the focus it needs after years of neglect.
Levelling up however is much more than shiny new buildings. It’s also about tackling problems in education and social mobility. Giving people the best start in life to make something of themselves. Through the work I’m involved in through the National Literacy Trust, and as Chairman of the APPG on Literacy, we’re focussed on the roughly 9 million people across the UK who struggle with reading.
This prevents them accessing employment that they are capable of but also impacts on health and mobility. We've all seen the stigma of mental health and we’re in a much better place than we were just a few years ago, however we still have walls to break down over the stigma of illiteracy. People aren't as ready or as open to discussing this issue due to their feeling of shame and it’s time we change this.
So as part of the governments levelling up agenda, at the forefront of my mind will be how we create new and better opportunities for those who are just starting out in life, and those adults who are seemingly being left behind.