Margaret Greenwood MP has said that the government’s Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill ‘fails to deliver’ as it had its Second Reading in the House of Commons this week.
The Wirral West MP spoke in the debate and criticised the government’s record on funding for local authorities like Wirral Council, as well as its record on tackling poverty, food insecurity and the climate crisis.
The bill includes changes to planning law and Margaret Greenwood called on ministers to introduce much stronger protection for the green belt.
She spoke out after an announcement by Leverhulme Estate that it had submitted planning applications to build up to 788 homes on the green belt in Wirral.
The Wirral West MP, who has a strong record on defending the green belt, said that local residents and campaigners have made their concerns clear to her about Leverhulme’s plans.
She also spoke about the government’s failure to understand the importance of providing opportunities for educational progression for adults in all communities.
The Learning and Work Institute has highlighted that more than nine million adults have low literacy or numeracy skills in England and 13 million have low digital skills, yet the number of adults taking classes to improve their skills has fallen significantly in recent years.
Speaking after the debate, Margaret Greenwood MP said, “Put simply, this bill fails to deliver.
“There can be no levelling up until there is a restoration of funding for the public services on which we all rely.
“Central government funding for Wirral Council dropped 85% between 2010 and 2020, and the impact on our communities has been devastating with the future of Woodchurch Leisure Centre and libraries in Hoylake, Irby, Pensby and Woodchurch now hanging in the balance.
“Four million children are living in poverty and the cost of living crisis is threatening to push many more into poverty. On top of that, 2.1 million emergency food parcels were given to people in crisis by food banks in the Trussell Trust network over the past financial year. The government must address poverty before it can claim to be truly levelling up.
“The numbers of adults without essential reading and writing skills in the UK are stark, and the government must provide the building blocks for educational progression for adults in all communities.
“The government must introduce much stronger protection for the green belt which is so important for people’s health and wellbeing and has an important part to play in our response to the climate emergency.
“There can be no levelling-up across the generations across the generations until the government addresses the climate crisis with the urgency it demands.
“Instead, the government has commissioned the British Geological Survey to advise on the latest scientific evidence around shale gas extraction.
“That ministers are still exploring the extraction of fossil fuels is an absurd and irresponsible response to the climate crisis. We do not need a review of fracking to know that fracking is not the answer to our energy needs.
“This government is failing to provide our communities with the public services and facilities that they need; failing to tackle the crisis in adult literacy that is leaving many unable to realise their potential; failing to tackle poverty and letting down both this and future generations on the environment.”