Helen Morgan MP, North Shropshire Liberal Democrats

MP urges Government to act on rural issues in her first Queen’s Speech debate


12th May 2022

MP Helen Morgan spoke out for North Shropshire in Parliament as she pleaded with the Government to give rural areas the support they urgently need.

The MP pressed the Government to deal with the crisis in rural healthcare, support the farming industry and strengthen local transport infrastructure as she stood up in the House of Commons during her first debate on a Queen’s Speech.

Helen chastised the Government for not only failing to help farmers with the rising cost of feed, fuel and fertiliser but for “cutting their lifeline, taking their votes for granted and refusing to consider other options, even in the short-term, to save this critical industry.”

And she revealed that some farmers in North Shropshire are being forced to close down due to costs meaning their businesses are no longer viable.

Meanwhile Helen likened the situation in Market Drayton to that of an island as she highlighted the lack of public transport in the market town as symptomatic of the problems facing rural communities.

“For those that don’t drive, if they have an outpatient appointment at the hospital in Telford they must rely on the car of friends or family – a taxi would be more than £50 and on the minimal public transport the round trip would be in excess of four hours,” she explained.

“Young people here struggle to access work, let alone achieve fairness when they get there.”

The Liberal Democrat MP pointed out that in 140 pages and 39,000 words of briefing on the Queen’s Speech – which lays out the Government’s key priorities – the word rural was only mentioned four times. Two of these were in a list of Government departments.

And buses were only mentioned once, despite them being a crucial issue for people unable to access public transport in rural areas like Shropshire.

“It highlights the complete disregard this government have for rural communities like mine who are seeing their local transport cut to the bone,” Helen added.

It comes after the Government failed to give any money to Shropshire to improve the situation under its ‘bus back better’ scheme. Helen continued: “I am proud to represent the rural constituency of North Shropshire – in my biased view the best rural constituency in Britain. The people are caring, creative and resilient.

“But the Conservatives are taking people the good people of rural Britain for granted. Far from levelling up they are risking decline. I urge them to think again and act now to prevent this happening.”

Helen and her Liberal Democrat colleagues have tabled an amendment to the Queen’s Speech which focuses specifically on rural issues and would benefit North Shropshire.

This includes reversing the closure of ambulance stations, tackling the chronic shortage of doctors and dentists, protecting farmers from new trade deals and stopping water companies from dumping sewage into rivers.

Helen added: “‘Levelling up’ is the catchy slogan we have heard time and time again but there is very little of substance for those in rural areas. The Queen’s Speech, I’m afraid, has offered nothing to help them.

“There is a theme emerging for rural communities in which critical infrastructure - whether that it is public transport, adult social care, community ambulance stations, banks, post offices, swimming pools and even driving test centres - are being shut down, centralised and removed from where they are most urgently needed.

“In our market towns and villages we are expected to get in our petrol cars – because there aren’t any electric charging facilities - and drive to reach the most basic services. And those that can’t, whatever their reason, are being isolated in these rural islands. They are far from empowered. And I’m afraid that voting on their neighbour’s extension will not compensate for waiting 17 hours for an ambulance when they need one.

“Helen also used her speech to praise the recent ‘Songs for Ukraine’ concert held in Oswestry which showcased young local talent while raising £11,000 for Ukraine. The MP described the event as “North Shropshire at its best.”

 

 

 


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