I have written to the new Chancellor of the Exchequer, Sajid Javid, to set out some issues that I believe he should focus on to support residents and businesses here in Weaver Vale. There are of course even more issues than this that need tackling, and only a Labour Government offers the transformational agenda that Weaver Vale and our country needs. However, I believe the new Chancellor must consider these as a priority. I will let people know how he responds.
Rt Hon Sajid Javid MP
Chancellor of the Exchequer
11 Downing Street
25th July 2019
Congratulations on being appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer. It is a hugely important role at a crucial time for the future of our country and my constituency of Weaver Vale.
I know from your time as Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whilst I was a member of the CLG Select Committee that – whilst we very often disagree – you take your duties seriously, and where we had common ground, such as on leasehold reform, you committed to trying to take action.
It is in this spirit that I am writing to ask that you apply similar consideration to the following issues which I ask that you address as a priority.
- Austerity must end
Austerity has and continues to have devastating effects on services and communities in my constituency. Halton Council has faced over £64 million of cuts, whilst between 2010 and 2020, the Government will have cut £330 million in cash terms from Cheshire West and Chester council services. Our NHS is at breaking point, with contracts being offered to private companies, and a bid for a desperately needed new hospital being refused. Schools have lost almost £3.5m locally. Meanwhile, dedicated local government workers, school staff and nurses and healthcare professionals need fair and proper pay after years of real terms cuts. The end of austerity needs to happen now, and it must mean real terms improvements in services and in workers’ pockets, not simply glib soundbites. Public services and those that work in them should be a priority, not tax cuts for the very highest earners and corporations.
- A Fair Deal on Transport
In 2015 your predecessor but one, George Osborne, made a promise in relation to funding free crossings on the Mersey Gateway bridge for all my constituents, a promise that has been disgracefully ditched by the Ministers who subsequently replaced him. Whilst the bridge has been a success, its PFI and toll based funding model is a tax on jobs leaving many working households in my constituency almost £2,000 per year worse off. Please reconsider the decision not to help fund bridge tolls for residents across all of Halton, Cheshire West and Chester and Warrington, as was promised by Mr Osborne.
You will also be aware of the major differences in transport funding between our area and London and the South East. This has resulted in not only major connectivity challenges with cities across the North, but also local problems including poor access at stations, and insufficient services on the Mid Cheshire Line. This disparity needs to be addressed with urgency.
- Making Further Devolution a Reality
I believe that politicians make better decisions, when they are made closer to the people they affect. Your tenure at CLG saw the implementation of Metro Mayors in many of our City Regions, something I welcome. But we need to go further and consider more than simply our biggest cities. Momentum on this agenda has stalled in the last 2 years, and some involved in the process concluded that Her Majesty’s Treasury did not offer further devolution the support needed to progress. Cheshire and Warrington has a Devolution bid that I believe is ready to go. As a champion of Devolution yourself, and with a Prime Minister who has held major devolved office himself, I hope that progress can be made on giving further devolution the green light. It is not acceptable that some of my constituents benefit from devolved power in Merseyside, but those living in Cheshire West and Chester, do not.
- No to No deal
Finally, I wish to warn against any consideration of leaving the European Union without a deal. My constituency relies on the Automotive, Manufacturing and Chemicals Industries, whilst also benefitting from a thriving food and agricultural sector, all supported by being a centre for distribution and logistics too. These areas, and many more would be devastated by No Deal. I urge you to rule out this avenue which would be so damaging to my constituents, and the finances of the country that you are now responsible for.
If you or a member of your team wishes to meet me to discuss any of these issues further, I would be delighted to do so.
Mike Amesbury MP