Stockton North MP Alex Cunningham has blasted Levelling Up Minister Dehenna Davison’s “ignorance” of local matters after she falsely claimed Stockton Borough Council has ignored Billingham for “decades”.
Responding to Alex’s question about Billingham missing out on two rounds of Levelling Up funding (Levelling-Up Funds Bid UQ 27 March), the Minister – who is also MP for Bishop Auckland – said:
“I suggest that perhaps the reason that some areas have been run down is due to decades of poor Labour management and investment.”
In reality Billingham has had millions of pounds invested in the town by the Labour-led Stockton Borough Council including an £18 million refurbishment of Billingham Forum in 2011, £2 million invested in public spaces in 2013 and a new library and customer service centre which was built in 2014 at a cost of £3.5 million. This investment is on top of new play equipment in John Whitehead Park, improved seating in the theatre and support of the renowned Billingham International Folklore Festival.
It has been a series of private sector owners of the shopping centre who have failed to invest and the Council has recently committed to £10 million of capital investment in a pitch to take control of the shopping precinct, support retail and create local jobs. Sadly the Minister turned down the levelling up bid to help make that happen.
Responding to the Minister’s claims Alex said:
“The Minister showed her complete ignorance yesterday by suggesting Billingham has had no investment from Stockton Council when the facts show the complete opposite.
“Since 2011 alone the town has had upwards of £23 million worth of investment in much loved facilities and events. Even the most basic of research from the Minister would have uncovered that. She needs to correct the record.
“The only people who have let the people of Billingham down are the Conservatives.”