'They don't care about us' as fears raised over 'quieter' Birkenhead

In the run up to the 2019 General Election Boris Johnson and his Conservative Party promised to ‘level up’ the areas in the UK to balance the disparity between the London & Southeast and the rest of the UK.

Five years and three Prime Ministers later we asked the people of Birkenhead whether they have felt any sort of levelling up in their town.

Rather than being a story of levelling up, it seems Birkenhead has been, and continues to be in a state of decline. The notion that the town's best days are behind it was ever present in our conversations. This is nowhere more apparent than around the Pyramid Shopping Centre.

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In the shopping centre we met Oscar Wood from Birkenhead who told us that the town has seen a rapid decline in recent years.

The 18-year-old said: “I grew up here, I used to come here so much and there’d be so many shops and places to go. I left and came back aged 16 and half the places had shut down, it’s so much quieter, there’s just less life. I don’t think the Tories care about anyone in the North, they don’t care about us.”

Whilst in the Pyramid Shopping Centre we also spoke to 83-year-old George McKevitt from Bromborough. George was also concerned at the amount of shop closures in the area.

He said: “The shops are closing down because everyone is turning to Amazon.”

George also commented on the lack of ‘levelling up’ in the country: “There’s a gap between the South and the North. In the North it's cheaper for your pint, fish and chips, and rent, buts that’s about it.”

In addition to Pyramid Shopping Centre, the nearby Birkenhead Market is also struggling.

We spoke to several market venders who all agreed that the levelling up project certainty hadn’t reached the Wirral.

One vender, Mark Jones from Pensby, said: “Levelling up doesn’t seem to have affected me in Birkenhead Market. Nothing has changed for me personally; other people and other things may have changed but I’m not seeing it.”

PJ, who runs a magic shop in the Birkenhead Market told us: “In the last five years, half the market has left, the place is just going down the nick, more people are going to Liverpool shopping because there is nothing left in Birkenhead.”

Perhaps the most touching conversation we had in Birkenhead was with two women, who wanted to remain anonymous. One of the ladies told us: “People in the North get up and go to work just like in the South, we are people too.”

The other lady spoke of the depressing cycle of parents having to work longer and longer hours just to pay the bills, but as a result having little no to time to spend with their kids.

When asked if the area had benefited from the levelling up programme the woman told us "Just look around, everyone's gone."

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