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Access to Employment: Rural Areas

Volume 714: debated on Monday 16 May 2022

5. What discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues on taking steps to improve access to employment for those without car access in (a) North Shropshire and (b) other rural areas as part of the levelling-up agenda. (900019)

The levelling-up fund announced at the last spending review saw £1.7 billion awarded to 105 successful projects across the UK, including projects to improve access to employment for those without the use of a car in rural areas.

Market Drayton and a number of other towns in North Shropshire are seeing cuts to their bus services, with Market Drayton set to lose them all together at weekends. It has received none of the funding that it has applied for to date, including from the Bus Back Better fund. Like many other towns across Britain, its beautiful high street is struggling to recover from the pandemic. For such towns that have been unsuccessful in their bids so far, and where people are struggling to get in and out of them, what is the Government’s plan to level them up?

The hon. Lady needs to work with her local transport authority—that would be Shropshire Council—to look into resolving those issues. The pandemic had a huge impact on the delivery of local services and the Government provided nearly £1.86 billion in grant funding for bus services in England. Shropshire Council received about £2.17 million of that, so I encourage her to speak to the council to see what it, along with commercial bus operators, can do.