This Government were in part elected on a promise to level up to ensure that my constituents in Blackpool receive exactly the same life chances as people in every single part of our United Kingdom. My local authority is statistically the most in need of levelling up; indeed, I probably represent the most deprived constituency in England, and I am delighted to say that, thanks to the unprecedented commitment and support from this Government, our levelling-up progress is going from strength to strength.
An additional revenue and capital investment of £300 million has flown into Blackpool South as a consequence of the faith and confidence from this Government in the work going on locally. It is easy to speak about levelling up and sometimes political figures from different parties will want to see evidence of what is actually happening—spades in the ground—to address some of the systemic challenges in Blackpool and many other left-behind towns. Levelling up is not a four-year or five-year project; it is an intergenerational challenge that will take commitment from both main political parties over decades and decades if indeed it is to bear any substantial fruit. Thankfully, the investment we have received is leading to spades in the ground in Blackpool and we are now reaping the reward of the confidence the Government have shown in us.
I could be here until midnight discussing all the different funding pots this Government have provided to Blackpool South, but I will take just a few moments to give the House a flavour of some of the positive initiatives taking place in my constituency: the largest towns deal in the country, with £39.5 million coming into Blackpool to deliver a plethora of projects; a new sports village at Revoe in conjunction with Blackpool football club; an upgrade to the world-famous Illuminations; helping to create thousands of jobs at the Blackpool enterprise zone; and a new start-up hub in the town centre.
Moving on, there is £40 million for a brand-new multiversity skills complex from the levelling-up fund, which will not only change immeasurably very deprived parts of Blackpool but will lead to a breaking down of some of the educational challenges and put a stop to the brain drain when our youngsters leave key stage 5. There is £8 million from the levelling-up budget to convert a derelict hotel in the town centre, and £8.6 million from the future high streets fund to fund developments to the Houndshill shopping centre and the Abingdon Street market, both of which are well under way. There is an additional £40 million to relocate the court complex, allowing the largest single private-sector development project in Lancashire to go ahead over the next few years. There is also £300 million-worth of capital investment coming into Blackpool to create millions of pounds of additional consumer spend every single year and thousands of extra jobs. That is all thanks to this Government’s commitment to levelling up Blackpool.
But we will not stop there, because the list is endless: £10 million extra in education funding because we are an opportunity area, helping to close the gaps that have emerged as a consequence of the covid pandemic; a £25 million new upgrade to our A&E, meaning the front door of A&E has been completely rejuvenated, leading to shorter waiting times in A&E, and helping patients move throughout their journey in the hospital; £67.8 million in writing off the historical debt to Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, meaning more money can now be freed up for the frontline to spend on patients, rather than in debt receipts; £20 million for new electric buses; £9.5 million from the bus and light rail fun; £4.8 million for Project ADDER, to help remove off the streets of Blackpool some of the drug gangs that cause misery to my constituents; and in only the last few weeks we received a multimillion-pound funding settlement to help youth offending initiatives in Blackpool, led by the exemplary Dave Blacker and the Blackpool boys and girls club—a brilliant initiative that will change the lives of people in one of the country’s most deprived wards.
In addition to that—I have nearly finished—we have £118 million in flood defence work going on in Blackpool, which will secure the front of the world-famous Blackpool seafront; over £5 million helping to address rough sleeping and homelessness; and £4.8 million from the culture recovery fund being spent by a variety of projects, including the fantastic Blackpool theatre group. All in all, there is £300 million of investment coming into Blackpool.
It is easy to reel off a list of the different investments coming into a particular area, but I can honestly say, having seen at first hand the changes this money is making, that it is turning people’s lives around. It is helping to address the educational challenges and give people who have been out of the jobs market for years a new foothold and a commitment to our society, to find a job and to contribute. It is addressing some of the systemic health inequalities that have plagued Blackpool for decades, which mean that in parts of my constituency life expectancy is 20 years lower than in the most affluent parts of our country—something that successive Governments, red and blue, have tolerated for years but that, thanks to the commitment from this Government, we are finally serious about addressing.
Those are some of the brilliant initiatives going on in Blackpool, but as ever, Blackpool being Blackpool, we always want more. I hope that those on the Treasury Bench are listening to my final few requests for funding in Blackpool during this Parliament and the differences it will make to our local economy and the lives of my constituents.
The first of those is housing-led regeneration in the Bond Street, Waterloo Road and Revoe areas of my constituency, which are among the 1% most deprived neighbourhoods in the country. My right hon. Friend Michael Gove has been fantastic in his commitment to Blackpool and, indeed, levelling up more generally over the past few years. The £30 million package that he is working on in conjunction with Blackpool Council will help to change those areas forever, giving them a new lease of life and addressing some of the systemic challenges that residents in those communities have faced for years. I hope that work will continue and that we will get a commitment from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities to that funding, which is badly required.
My second request is for a commitment to Blackpool airport. Owned and run by the Labour-run council, it used to operate successful commercial passenger flights throughout Europe, but that is no longer the case, due to a lack of interest from the council. The Government have brought in several changes that have revolutionised the landscape of domestic aviation and regional airports—not least the cut to air passenger duty—but further work is required around public service obligations to ensure that we can maximise the economic potential and job-creating growth of places such as Blackpool airport.
My final request is on more of a national issue, but it is worthy of a mention, considering that not a day goes by when I do not receive several emails from constituents about the lack of NHS dentistry. I have unfortunately spoken to some constituents who have told me harrowing stories about having to take pliers to their children’s teeth because they cannot afford a private dentist, and there are no longer any NHS dental practices in Blackpool that are open to new patients. It is quite a shocking story, considering we are in the 21st century. The Government’s recent changes to the NHS dental contract are welcome, but there is far more work to do to address the issue of NHS dentistry, particularly in so-called dental deserts, such as Blackpool, where few dental practitioners want to work.
The House has indulged me for far too long. Madam Deputy Speaker, may I take this opportunity to wish you and Members an enjoyable recess?