We’ve all seen the way Bolton has been heading under Labour. We have fewer shops in the town centre; and fewer people in the town who bother to visit the town centre now the shops are gone. Meanwhile our outlying towns like Westhoughton are being choked by cars. The place needs rapid revitalisation.
Today the Government has announced the Stronger Towns Fund; a £1.6 billion fund aimed at boosting growth across the UK. More £538 million will be targeted across the North – over half the pot – for areas that put together job-boosting plans for their towns. I couldn’t be happier.
Bolton needs a new plan, a plan that brings people back into the town and gets new jobs to support them when they get there. Westhoughton needs this too – although we’ve not suffered as much as Bolton has in terms of shops being closed (our high street is actually doing pretty well, I think you’ll agree) we still need to benefit from reduced traffic grinding our road network to a halt; and we need to make sure our thriving businesses aren’t left behind when Bolton and the other nearby towns get a boost.
So I’m calling on the Council to draw up a plan for Bolton that includes Westhoughton, Horwich and Farnworth as well – a plan that works for all the towns in our borough. I want to see our fair share of this fund coming to benefit us.
But it’s not just the Council that can benefit here, there’s another £600 million being made available, too. This extra fund is available to community groups who come together to draw up proposals for their areas; proposals that will create new jobs and restore pride. I think Westhoughton already has pride but extra jobs wouldn’t go amiss.
That’s why I’ll be organising a meeting to get our community groups together to draw up a Westhoughton Plan, so we can bid for our share of this fund. Let’s make our town centre even greater!
I’ll have more news on that when the meeting is scheduled and the plans come together.