In his recent Worksop Guardian article, Alexander Stafford MP writes about the importance of investing in Rother Valley's high streets and the potential that the Levelling Up Fund has to unlock the potential of towns in his constituency.
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 1 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. It is simply not good enough; local people expect and deserve far better than this. If we do not take urgent and concrete action, we risk areas outside of major cities withering on the vine.
Thanks to the UK Government, the Levelling Up Fund presents us with a golden opportunity to radically regenerate Dinnington, Maltby, Thurcroft, Swallownest, and other towns across Rother Valley. 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. The improvement of one town will have benefits for neighbouring towns and vice-versa.
I look forward to working closely with all relevant stakeholders, including Rother Valley residents and businesses, parish and town councils, Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council, the Sheffield City Region, and central government, to restore our precious high streets and to level up every town in Rother Valley. This is a once in a generation opportunity, and we must seize it fully.