Rural areas are being failed by the Government, MP Helen Morgan tells Commons
A Shropshire MP has warned that rural areas are at risk of being left behind due to government "neglect" and a Levelling Up policy that does not benefit them.
Helen Morgan, the North Shropshire MP and Lib Dem spokesman for Levelling Up, highlighted slow internet speeds, poor public transport and the NHS crisis as issues that need tackling if rural areas are to be on a level playing field with urban areas across the country.
Speaking in a debate on Levelling Up Rural Britain, Mrs Morgan raised the Orthopaedic Hospital in Gobowen as a typical example of a “world-class” organisation being let down by a “fourth-class public transport system” and a lack of affordable housing.
She told the House of Commons: “We have young people leaving rural areas in search of work at the same time that local employers from all sectors are struggling to fill vacancies.
“Our hospitals are full to capacity, with ambulances queuing outside the front while the beds are taken up by people who could be cared for at home.
“Pensioners and young people are desperate to travel by public transport but they have got no car and they have no alternative to get there.”
She added that the older population of rural areas means that pressure on services is higher in places like North Shropshire but that funding of local authorities like Shropshire Council does not reflect this.
“The population gets older, the pressure on services gets higher, more young people leave and the cycle continues,” she said.
If rural Britain is to thrive this cycle needs to be reversed.”
Mrs Morgan said the Government’s trade deal with Australia and New Zealand had made life tougher for farmers already struggling with rising costs and pointed out that one in 10 people in North Shropshire still can’t get internet speeds above 10mb per second.
“It is not fair to expect rural businesses to compete with their urban counterparts when they can’t connect with their customers or their suppliers,” she added.
"Connecting rural areas both digitally and physically is key to improving their futures.
“We need to fund our councils fairly so that they can provide not only the social care to free up our hospitals and ambulance services but also the other services taxpayers expect to improve the quality of life of all residents.”