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Dragon Interview: Angela Richardson MP on her Levelling Up Speech

Published on: 10 Jun, 2022
Updated on: 15 Jun, 2022
Angela Richardson‘s speech on her view of the “levelling up” Guildford requires gave an interesting insight in the priorities she has identified. But how far are they in line with the priorities of Guildford residents and with those of the government whose leadership she no longer has confidence in?
Dragon editor Martin Giles asked Ms Richardson a few questions her speech had provoked…
What do you think levelling up should mean for Surrey and Guildford? Is your view the same as the government’s view?
Levelling up should mean for Guildford the same as it means everywhere else – allowing those who have not enjoyed an equal share in the nation’s prosperity in the past a meaningful opportunity to do so.
What can government, at all levels, do to help level up those in the Westborough and Stoke wards you identify, especially with the rapid, recent and continuing rise in the cost of living?
The government has already done a huge amount to help people – including those in the Guildford council wards (Westborough and Stoke) that I spoke about in Parliament – with Council Tax rebates and money off energy bills.
Other than that, good education and good local support services are key to enabling people to become qualified, obtain work, accommodation and maximise the support they are entitled to.
You say: “Infrastructure is a genuine frustration for my residents”. Should planning applications be allowed if the required infrastructure will not be in place?
The infrastructure required to support identified development is already in the Guildford Infrastructure Delivery Plan precisely because the government feels local planning authorities need to understand what is required before applications are permitted.
The permitting of individual applications is a matter for the local planning authority.
Many will share your concern about empty shops in Guildford. What should be done to make them more affordable to prospective traders?
The trend towards online shopping and out-of-town shopping has an equal impact and I think the council has a role in ensuring – as some neighbouring towns have done – that Guildford town centre becomes a place with activities and entertainments, particularly during the summer months, to draw people into the area and increase footfall for shops.
In that respect, the car parking charge increases due to come into effect shortly are not helpful.
Isn’t it likely, following your vote of no confidence in Boris Johnson, that your views will be less influential until there is a new leader?
Had I voted in favour of the prime minister, you might have been asking me whether my credibility with the people of Guildford had been sacrificed on the altar of maintaining my influence!
I am less concerned about my own influence and more about saying and doing what I believe is right – and a good number of Guildford constituents seem to agree with me.

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