Keir Starmer: I'll end Labour's neglect of rural areas

Sir Keir Starmer says the Labour Party will end years of neglect of rural areas in order to win over voters in Shropshire.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer

The Labour leader is targeting the county as part of a four-year plan, which he hopes will see Labour surge to power at the next general election in 2024.

He wants to win back seats including Telford, The Wrekin and Shrewsbury and Atcham, all of which were Labour-held in 2005 but have since fallen to the Tories.

And he believes that dismantling Labour's reputation from the Jeremy Corbyn era as a party of the metropolitan elite will be key to its future success.

Speaking ahead of a visit to the West Midlands today, Mr Starmer told the Shropshire Star: "To win votes here, the first thing I need to do is to get Shropshire and talk to people – and not just six weeks before the election but over the four years.

"I want to make it clear that we care about towns and we care about rural issues. We've neglected that part of our argument in recent years.

"We have to start engaging on the issues that people in Shropshire are most concerned about."

Anxiety

Addressing one of the key issues in the county, Mr Starmer said he wanted to see A&E departments at Telford and Shrewsbury hospitals remain open on a full-time basis under a Labour government.

"What really matters to people is that they can access health care when they need it," the Labour leader said.

"We would approach this issue on the basis that this is a service that needs to be provided to local people, as close to them as possible.

"When A&E wards close it is always a source of great anxiety.

"We fully understand that when you need A&E, you need it close to you and you need it in a hurry."

Under current plans, the emergency department at Telford's Princess Royal Hospital could be stripped of 24 hour services, with patients instead directed 16 miles away to Royal Shrewsbury Hospital.

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