When the new town was being built my dad worked as a plasterer on the estates in Digmoor that offered a new life for thousands of families. Now 50 years on I have the enormous privilege as the Member of Parliament to be working to help shape the town’s future for the next 50 years.
When I look to the next 50 years for Skelmersdale, there is enormous promise for the future but we have to make it happen.
Securing investment in a new £42 million West Lancashire is the beginning. The story of Skelmersdale’s next 50 years will be determined by our ability to create new opportunities for the people of the town - socially, economically and educationally. Whether that is through regeneration, employment opportunities, better transport, improving health or the quality of local retail.
This is why I began to hold the Skelmersdale Summit over 18 months ago to bring together key partners who have a responsibility and ability to deliver a town the people of Skelmersdale deserve. I hear so often from residents how they want a town centre that is the heart of Skelmersdale. A vibrant, exciting place they can come with their family and friends throughout the day and at night. A place that draws the community together. Residents want to have the best possible quality shops and facilities that offer choice. Through a regenerated town centre we can create so many opportunities for the community and for individuals.
For a town the size of Skelmersdale not to have a railway station of its own is criminal. I believe that improving transport links whether rail or bus is a necessary part of improving opportunities. A railway station would open up employment opportunities, support the town centre shops and retailers and provide a massive boost to the town’s overall regeneration. In the current climate a new railway station is a longer term goal but one that I have started on to ensure Skelmersdale is well place for any future developments.
If people are to enjoy a revitalised Skelmersdale then we need to address the issue of people having shorter life expectancies in the town compared to other areas of West Lancashire and across the UK. I believe the work we are doing in the other areas will contribute to improved life expectancy. Through employment, improved and sufficient housing, through more choice for shoppers, and of course it is also reliant on having the best quality NHS services provided locally.
To achieve all this requires a unified effort from the community, the public bodies, me as the MP, the voluntary sector, faith groups, and the business community to overcome the challenges and turn the town’s potential into a great new future. One that befits the people of Skelmersdale.