Market Drayton 'like an island' says MP in Queen's Speech debate

Market Drayton has been compared to an isolated island by the town's MP.

Helen Morgan MP in the House of Commons
Helen Morgan MP in the House of Commons

North Shropshire MP Helen Morgan took the opportunity of her first contribution to a Queen's Speech debate by focusing on rural issues.

The Lib Dem was not impressed by the Conservative Government's legislative programme for the next year.

Likening the situation in Market Drayton to that of an island, she highlighted what she says is the lack of public transport in the market town as typical 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 said.

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

MP said 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.

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

It comes after the Government failed to give any money to Shropshire to improve the situation under its ‘bus back better’ scheme.

She was speaking on Thursday afternoon, on the third day of the Queen’s Speech debate

The MP also pressed the Government to deal with the crisis in rural healthcare, support the farming industry and strengthen local transport infrastructure.

Ms Morgan chastised the Conservatives 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.

She 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.”

Ms Morgan and her party colleagues have tabled an amendment to the Queen’s Speech which focuses specifically on rural issues.

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.

Ms Morgan 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."

Referring to plans to shake up the planning system she added: "I’m afraid that voting on their neighbour’s extension will not compensate for waiting 17 hours for an ambulance when they need one.”

Ms Morgan 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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