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Small and Medium-sized Cities: Infrastructure

Volume 639: debated on Tuesday 17 April 2018

In this Parliament, investment, including in infrastructure, will be at its highest sustained level since the 1970s, and our cities large and small are an important part of that strategy. We recently launched the £1.7 billion Transforming Cities fund to upgrade infrastructure, in addition to £345 million of funding for local road projects in England.

I thank the Minister for his response and for meeting me recently. Does he agree that cities such as Stoke-on-Trent are perfectly placed to benefit from investment through the Transforming Cities fund?

I quite agree: Stoke-on-Trent is exactly the kind of city that we designed the Transforming Cities fund to benefit. From the meeting we had, I know that my hon. Friend sees opportunity in Stoke—in Stoke station, at junction 15 on the M6 and in the proposal for a ceramics park. With the dynamic Conservative leadership in Stoke at the moment, we look forward to receiving that application.

I do not often get angry in the Chamber, but can I ask the Minister to stop spending his time in Maidenhead and Runnymede and come to the real towns and cities of this country like Huddersfield, where we can see the deterioration of infrastructure everywhere we look? That is because this Government have cut and cut local authority spending—that is the truth. He should get out more and see what this country is really like.

The independent Infrastructure and Projects Authority has said that by the end of this Parliament, central Government funding for infrastructure will be greater in the north than in the south. The hon. Gentleman is speaking to the wrong Minister if he thinks that we do not care about the north. This son of a Liverpudlian and a Mancunian, born in Wolverhampton and representing North Nottinghamshire, needs no lessons from him.

I accept that Huddersfield is a most admirable place. My grandma lived there all her life, as I have told the hon. Member for Huddersfield (Mr Sheerman) before. Splendid place, splendid woman.

Cities are important, but so too are seaside towns such as Weymouth. We desperately need investment in those places, or they will just go to rack and ruin. Having met a Minister from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government recently, I understand that Government are looking at initiatives for towns and seaside towns. Can the Minister confirm that that is true? If so, what money will be available?

My hon. Friend raises an important point. The Government’s strategy is not limited to cities. The Transforming Cities programme is for our smaller and larger cities, but we are also interested in coastal towns and communities. I recently met a number of parliamentary colleagues representing those communities, and I would be happy to meet my hon. Friend to talk about how the Treasury will be working with CLG.

Does the Minister accept that as we leave the EU, many people across the United Kingdom will want to see economic development beyond the south-east of England, and that enterprise zones such as the one in my constituency could be used to maximise inward investment and produce productivity and prosperity for everyone across the UK?

I entirely agree. That is why we are working with Mayors such as the Mayor of Tees Valley, who is producing a development corporation and has new powers of planning reform and so on to drive forward the economy of that part of the north-east. We are very happy to talk to other hon. Members who would like to take forward similar proposals.