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An MP has complained of “seagulls the size of jumbo jets” in his constituency as he made the case for more investment to help “held-back communities”.
Labour MP Ian Lavery challenged Communities Secretary Michael Gove to visit deprived areas in his constituency of Wansbeck, in Northumberland, as he criticised the Government’s priorities for the “levelling up” agenda.
Mr Lavery was speaking as MPs debated the Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill for the fist time in the Commons.
The Labour MP said “levelling up” is “political rhetoric” and “people in the communities haven’t a clue what this means”.
He said: “Levelling up should be about child poverty, it should be about pensioner poverty, it should be about fuel poverty, it should be about foodbank reliance, employment opportunities, education opportunities, health outcomes.
“It should be about life expectancy.
“It shouldn’t just be about shiny new one-off projects in a town somewhere which needs a bit of a polish.”
He then asked the Secretary of State to visit his constituency to witness “the desperate need for some sort of levelling up finance”.
He listed a number of “wonderful towns” in need of investment, saying at one point: “I want him to walk through the streets of Bedlington, listen to the constituents there who have been pleading for leisure facilities for many many years but that just hasn’t happened.
“I want to take him to the Hirst area of Ashington, to see how some of these people, people wouldn’t tolerate the conditions that some of these people are living in.
“We haven’t… even got a suitable refuse collection.
“They’ve got bin liners on the streets, we’ve got seagulls the size of jumbo jets, and rats as well, right across where they live.
“People wouldn’t tolerate this.
“We need investment, we need support in these held-back communities.”
“Come and see how people live in my constituency,” he said, adding “it cannot continue to be rhetorical, so stop the rhetoric and focus on reality”.