Christopher Whiteside MBE is Conservative County Councillor for the Egremont North and St Bees Division of Cumbria County Council. The division includes St Bees, Bigrigg, Wood End, Moor Row, part of the Mirehouse area of Whitehaven, and surrounding countryside.
He is also deputy chair (political and campaigning) of the North-West region of the voluntary wing of the Conservative party.
Chris lives and works in Copeland with his wife and family.
Thursday, July 15, 2021
While talent and potential is distributed evenly across this country, opportunity is not – and as Britain recovers from the pandemic, Conservatives are determined to level up the UK and deliver a fairer, stronger society.
Today the Prime Minister set out the steps being taken to deliver on this mission, focusing on raising living standards, spreading opportunity, improving our public services and restoring people’s sense of pride in their community – particularly in places that have felt left behind for decades.
But it is vital to understand the difference between this project and levelling down. Conservatives do not think you can make the poor parts of the country richer by making the rich parts poorer – levelling up is not a zero-sum game, it is about fixing the issues people face in every part of the country.
As we build back better from the pandemic, we will seize this moment to create a better quality of life for people in every part of the UK – so everyone can access the opportunities they need to succeed.
The Conservative governmnet is doing this by:
Publishing a landmark Levelling Up White Paper later this year, setting out the plan to improve livelihoods and opportunity in all parts of the UK. The White Paper will set out bold new policy interventions that grasp the opportunities of leaving the EU to improve livelihoods in all parts of the UK as we recover from the pandemic – boosting jobs, driving growth and innovation, increasing opportunity, and ensuring everyone has access to excellent public services, regardless of where they live.
Launching a new high streets strategy to transform our high streets into thriving places to live, work and visit. Measures in the strategy include extending pavement licences and the outdoor sales of alcohol for twelve months; plans to eradicate the scourge of chewing gum litter blighting our high streets, along with new guidance for councils to manage graffiti.
Announcing the final 15 towns that will benefit from our £3.6 billion Towns Fund, boosting local economies and creating jobs. The funding will support locally-led projects to transform disused buildings and public spaces, fund renovations to attractions, deliver new green transport, and create opportunities for people to develop new skills.
Launching a new £150 million Community Ownership Fund, protecting the social fabric of communities. From this summer, community groups will be able to bid for up to £250,000 in matched funding through the new fund to take over local pubs, theatres, shops and sports grounds at risk of closure. In some cases, up to £1 million will be made available to establish sports clubs or help to buy sports grounds at risk without community intervention.
Investing £50 million next year for grassroots football pitches to enable more people to access high-quality football pitches. This investment will be targeted at left-behind communities and will help to address health inequalities, as well as ensuring more people can play our nation’s sport.
This builds on the actions already being taken to level up the UK:
Regenerating local communities by:
Launching a £4.8 billion Levelling Up Fund, investing in infrastructure that will improve people’s everyday life. The Fund will invest in local infrastructure that has a visible impact on people and their communities, such as town centre and high street regeneration, local transport, and cultural projects. At least £800 million of this fund will go towards Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Investing £830 million in high streets though our Future High Streets Fund, supporting their recovery from the pandemic and driving long term growth. Up to £830 million through the fund will be invested in 72 areas across England, funding regeneration plans and projects such as improvements to transport infrastructure, new homes and the transformation of underused spaces.
Establishing eight Freeports across England, boosting jobs, investment and communities now that we have left the EU. To encourage free trade and bring investment to all regions of the country through lower taxes and cheaper customs, we are creating eight freeports in England: Teesside, Humberside, Felixstowe, Thames Gateway, Solent, Plymouth, Liverpool and the East Midlands.
Levelling up public services by:
Investing record amounts in our NHS, so that people have access to the best care wherever they live. We are investing an additional £33.9 billion in frontline NHS services every year by 2023-24, the largest and longest funding settlement in NHS history, and we are also delivering £3.7 billion to build 40 hospitals and recruiting 50,000 new nurses in England.
Giving our police the powers and resources they need to cut crime and keep our streets safe. We are delivering a £636 million funding boost for police forces this year, including £400 million to continue recruiting 20,000 extra police officers by 2023, of which we have already delivered the first 8,871.
Boosting school funding by £14.4 billion over three years, giving every child a world-class education. We are helping to close the opportunity gap in England by increasing primary school funding to a minimum of £4,000 per pupil and secondaries to a minimum of £5,150 per pupil, as part of our £14.4 billion funding boost for schools by 2022-23 – an extra £840 per pupil.
Upgrading infrastructure and connectivity by:
Investing in and improving infrastructure, connecting people to jobs and places. We are making the largest ever investment in motorways and A-roads worth over £27 billion, connecting the country with HS2, and setting out our massive programme of rail investment across the North and the Midlands through the Integrated Rail Plan, building on our £4.2 billion investment.
Rolling out fibre broadband across the UK, so that no community is left behind. We are investing £5 billion in Project Gigabit, to target getting to a minimum of 85 per cent gigabit-capable coverage by 2025 and to get us as close to 100 per cent as possible. The UK is on track for one of the fastest rollouts in Europe, and for half of all households to have access to gigabit speeds by the end of 2021.
Investing £5 billion in buses and cycle routes across England, levelling up local transport connections. We will invest £5 billion to overhaul bus and cycle links, making everyday journeys easier, greener and more convenient. We will put 4,000 new zero emission buses on our roads, introduce more frequent services and open 250 miles of new cycleways.