Opinion: Jonathan Gullis MP: 'We should be proud of Tunstall'

Jonathan Gullis in Tunstall with Abi Brown and Jacob Rees-Mogg -Credit:Pete Stonier / Stoke Sentinel
Jonathan Gullis in Tunstall with Abi Brown and Jacob Rees-Mogg -Credit:Pete Stonier / Stoke Sentinel

We have heard the sad news that Johnson Tiles will no longer manufacture its products in Stoke-on-Trent. The challenge for manufacturers in recent years has been immense because of Putin’s war in Ukraine which has driven up energy costs.

It is reassuring that they will continue to have a presence in the Potteries, preserving their unique place in our heritage, and my team and I are working with the DWP to support the transition to new work. But this should not give us a reason to talk Tunstall down.

We should be proud of our town. The people are determined, resilient and have a deep sense of pride in the Potteries’ history. I am committed to levelling up and turbocharging the success of our towns and high streets.

READ: JCB to shut Stoke-on-Trent warehouse as up to 200 workers face uncertain future - JCB is opening a bigger warehouse by East Midlands Airport - 49 miles away

READ: Johnson Tiles factory set to close with 105 job losses ending 123 years of history - Johnson Tiles in Tunstall will instead become a standalone business with all production outsourced

Levelling up matters enormously. From lowering unemployment to tackling crime and getting our children into the best schools and colleges, this is a generational challenge.

Last month, I had the first questions in Prime Minister’s Questions, proudly able to stand up for Stoke-on-Trent North, Kidsgrove and Talke once again. Despite uproar from the opposition Labour benches, I reminded the Deputy Prime Minister about our record of delivery since 2019.

Focusing on Tunstall, I reminded colleagues that the town hall has been re-opened, thanks to investment from the former Conservative-led administration. This giant on our High Street that sat empty is now transformed with a new library with an IT suite and a police post, as well as a family hub.

In Stoke-on-Trent, we know that the family is the bedrock of our community and key to levelling up. This facility will provide a focal point to support local families from 0-19 and drive people to the high street – creating more jobs and boosting economic growth.

I know the local community can’t wait to see the historic old library and baths reopen. Being part of the £56 million Levelling Up Fund, this development will include state-of-the-art accommodation and a fantastic community space.

With local workers being employed to take the project forward, it will also help drive economic growth in the local area and boost employment. If we are to get people out and about on their local high street, we must tackle crime and anti-social behaviour.

I’m proud that in Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire we have delivered more than 330 new police officers since 2019 – this is alongside the Government hitting their manifesto target of 20,000 new police officers since 2019.

I have been out with Staffordshire Police and have seen first-hand the work they do to tackle crime and keep our high streets safe. They tell me that it’s not just about a greater police presence but giving them the resources to prevent crime.

That’s why I worked hard with local Police and Crime Commissioner, Ben Adams, to deliver more than £200,000 of Government safer streets investment to beef up the police’s arsenal. The local police in Tunstall will benefit from improved CCTV, street lighting and alley gates that will bring help them put a stop to crime and anti-social behaviour.

Sadly, Stoke-on-Trent Labour’s priorities are different. They are undermining our great progress by introducing a garden tax, with local residents having to pay for their garden waste to be collected, while Stoke-on- Trent Labour refuse to reform the terms and conditions for council employees because they are in the ticket of their union baron bosses.

They are refusing to take action on the rogue and absent landlords on Tunstall High Street who keep their properties in a state of disrepair, despite my success in getting the law changed with tougher fines for these lousy landlords. And shockingly, they are driving up crime and anti-social behaviour by dumping some undesirable individuals in the Sneyd Arms Hotel, despite more than 500 having signed my and Cllr Tabrese Din’s petition to stop this from happening.

I am saddened by the disdain Labour have for Stoke-on-Trent. We can’t let them take the Potteries for granted again and leave towns like Tunstall behind. Labour would undermine all the progress we have made in Tunstall, while Conservatives have delivered record investment to rejuvenate our towns and high streets and a greater police presence to keep the community safe."

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