I’m proud to be a part of the new Labour Towns group, which is made up of Labour MPs, councillors and members to stand up for our towns and call out the Tories for the damaging effect that eight years of austerity has had on them.

As the Member of Parliament for St Helens North, I represent two towns: Newton and St Helens. I have seen how our borough faces a complex blend of challenges that often don’t apply to larger cities or to more rural areas.

New research from the Labour Towns group has shown that towns have had half the rate of new jobs and businesses as cities since 2010, with the overall economy in towns growing at two thirds the rate of cities in the same period.

This lag in growth has been accompanied by savage Tory cuts to our local government finances, with central government funding to St Helens Council falling form £103 million in 2010 down to a projected £56 million by 2020 – an expected drop of 45 per cent.

What the Government needs to do is focus on our towns as a new centre for economic growth, and St Helens and Newton are ideally placed to lead this work as it marks its 150th year.

I’ll be supporting Labour Towns in its important work making the case for places like St Helens and you can find out more about this here: www.labourtowns.co.uk

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