West Cumbrian MP Jamie Reed has responded to the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s Autumn Statement. The Copeland MP explained that he is “disappointed that the statement made no mention of Cumbria”, and that the Chancellor has not listened to his calls for key investments.
In advance of the Autumn Statement, Jamie Reed wrote to the Chancellor, setting out the challenges and opportunities faced by West Cumbria, and the need for investments in local health services, infrastructure, flood prevention, education and Britain’s Energy Coast.
In spite of Jamie Reed’s letter, the Chancellor failed to mention Cumbria at all in his speech. The statement included no mention of the NHS, and as such, no commitment to the release of funding in full for phase two of the redevelopment of the West Cumberland Hospital, or a commitment to secure the future of local health services, including 24-hour consultant led services at the West Cumberland Hospital.
Moreover, there was no announcement on investment in the Cumbrian Coastal railway. Nor was there an announcement on the release of capital for the much needed rebuild of the Whitehaven Academy. Instead, Government announced funding for the expansion of selective grammar schools, something that Jamie Reed has argued would segregate pupils and take education back to the 1950s. The statement also contained no mention of Britain’s Energy Coast Tidal Lagoon project in the Autumn Statement.
The Chancellor did announce that annual central government investment in economic infrastructure will increase to £22 billion in 2020-21, and Jamie Reed has called for this funding to be spent on West Cumbrian transport infrastructure, including a full upgrade of the A595. Moreover, Government announced a £170 million investment in flood defence and resilience measures, and the Copeland MP has called for that funding to go directly to those communities, like Keswick, Egremont and Cockermouth, which need immediate support to prevent repeated devastating flooding. The Copeland MP has also repeated his call for the establishment of a Cumbria Infrastructure and Floods Resilience Commission.
Owing to West Cumbria being repeatedly left out of Government spending announcements, Jamie Reed has extended an invitation to the Prime Minister, asking that the Cabinet undertake a visit to Copeland, so that Government can see for itself the need for joined up working and key investments, to better facilitate local and national growth.
Copeland MP, Jamie Reed said:
“Ahead of the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement, I wrote to him, setting out the case for investments in West Cumbria. I am therefore disappointed that the statement made no mention of Cumbria. Unfortunately, once again, Government failed to deliver and West Cumbria has been left out, let down and locked out.
“For too long we have waited for Government to take notice of our communities and to provide us with the support that we need to build the bright future that we are working collectively towards. However, our health services, our infrastructure, our flood prone communities, the Whitehaven Academy building, and our economy can wait no longer.
“I have requested that the Prime Minister arrange for herself and her cabinet to visit Copeland, so that Government may see for itself our considerable need for support, and our unparalleled potential. By visiting together, Secretaries of State will be able to understand the need for joined up working.
“Meanwhile, whilst we wait for Government to visit, I continue to do all I can to work call for these much needed investments in the local and national interest.
“In West Cumbria, our best days are ahead of us, but we’ll get there much more quickly with some support from the Government”.