THIS week I was extremely proud to have led a debate in Parliament on the most important issue for our community – social mobility.
Social mobility is the measure of our effectiveness as a society to ensure that no matter where you live, what background you come from or what profession or experiences your parents had, you have a fair shot at success.
It is about social justice and the life chances of all.
Sadly, all too often this is simply not the case for too many in our community who find themselves blocked from success despite their ambition and best endeavours.
While we have started the process of bringing together a local roundtable of stakeholders, including the council, schools, employers and community groups, we cannot do this alone.
That is why this week’s debate was a brilliant first step to calling out the inequality we are facing but also the urgency for the Government to assist communities to formulate their own unique paths to success.
Whitehall is all too often isolated in its approach, Westminster-centric and closed to local input.
If we are to effectively tackle the issues we face, we require Whitehall to be opened up to local plans, devolving the power and investment down to where it matters – our community.
But across Greater Manchester we are also facing a unique opportunity – our Spatial Framework which will dictate the planning and development of our city region for the next 20 years.
The latest draft this week was positive for our community – it removes two of the planned housing developments from Astley and Tyldesley and offers the opportunity for improved transport connectivity.
I am sure the consultation will raise many questions about the sustainability of the proposal, from access to education and health care to traffic congestion and public transport, and we must recognise the need for a balanced approach to any development. But without an adequate framework, Leigh will be left vulnerable to speculative developers without consideration to these wider issues.
I have long campaigned for Leigh to be reconnected to the rail network and the proposal in the Spatial Framework to reopen the station at Golborne is a great place to start.
Extending the reach of the guided busway is on its own meaningless without connecting Leigh to the rest of the wider transport networks – connecting people to jobs, education and leisure.
I look forward to working with TFGM in moving forward with the Golborne Station proposal as well as identifying other opportunities to improve transport.
We are at a crucial crossroads and that is why it is so important that people have their say on this. I encourage all constituents to respond to this consultation and ensure our local voice is loudly heard.