Politically speaking: New city projects to kickstart recovery

On March 3, the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced the Government’s budget, and the projects to help in our economic recovery following the end of the pandemic.

Friday, 19th March 2021, 12:30 pm
MP Imran Ahmad Khan in the city centre, near to where some of the Towns Fund cash will be spent
MP Imran Ahmad Khan in the city centre, near to where some of the Towns Fund cash will be spent

This has been a difficult year financially for many people in Wakefield but this budget symbolises a promise kept.

The Conservatives were elected on the promise to level up the entire United Kingdom, and ensure that areas like ours, long felt behind, can truly thrive.

As part of our new budget, 45 new Town Deals have been announced, worth over £1 billion, as well as a £150 million fund to help communities take ownership of venues at risk of loss, and the opening of the first round for the £4.8 billion Levelling Up Fund.

This funding will be accompanied with key offices of Government moving North, including the creation of the new Northern Infrastructure Bank in Leeds, and a new economic campus for the Treasury in Darlington.

For Wakefield, this will have very real effects.

Through lobbying Central Government, we have secured over £30 million of additional funds for four key rejuvenation and redevelopment projects.

The Old Westgate Station project will redevelop disused station buildings to create new office spaces and hotel accommodation.

The Little Westgate and Bread Street funding will remove unsightly retail units, and reinstate a main pedestrian route between Wakefield Cathedral and the Civic Quarter.

Moneys allocated to the Kirkgate Gateway Neighbourhood will ensure the demolition of poor quality constructions and parking sites, and the development of new housing and public spaces.

Funds earmarked for Kirkgate Phase Two will renovate social housing and public areas and develop a specialist market area.

As your Member of Parliament, I believe it is a crucial part of my job to advocate for our city.

That’s why I lobbied hard for this funding, and it is also the reason that I am actively campaigning for other projects that will restore Wakefield’s pride in our city.

This includes a new station for Horbury and Ossett (a project that I have been pushing with ministers since my election in 2019), and restoration of a full Magistrates Court for the city, ending the need for people to travel to Leeds and beyond to access justice.

All of these projects are the crucial steps towards reviving our great city, and transforming Wakefield into a place that attracts people to live and work here.

But this is just the beginning, as a further £150,000 will be made available to scope even more exciting new projects to kickstart recovery.

This budget marks the beginning of levelling up the North, and as a proud Yorkshireman I will ensure that Wakefield remains high on the Government’s list of priorities.

We have suffered too long with ineffective representatives in Westminster that didn’t deliver the real change that we need.

Recovery from the economic effects of Covid will be challenging, but as your most hearty champion I will do my utmost to ensure that we not only recover, but prosper.