Dewsbury MP Paula Sherriff demanded an apology from the Communities & Local Government Minister, Marcus Jones for the Chancellors broken Enterprise Zone promise.
Prior to the General Election last May, the Chancellor George Osborne said to the Dewsbury Reporter that within 100 days of the election Dewsbury would be added to a list of Enterprise Zones. If this had been followed through it would have meant that new businesses moving into the town or those that wish to change premises would be exempt from business rates for five years. A measure which has proved to revitalise town and city centres.
During a ‘Support for High Streets’ debate on Monday Sherriff asked:
“A week before the general election, the Chancellor told the Dewsbury Reporter that within the first 100 days of a Tory Government, the town would be added to a list of enterprise zones in which new businesses would be spared business rates for the next five years. Will the Minister confirm that nine months into a Tory Government, there is no enterprise zone in my constituency, and local businesses on our high street are still paying full rates? Will he offer an apology to local people who were promised one thing when the Chancellor wanted their votes, and got quite another once he was in office?”
Completely avoiding the question, Communities & Local Government Minister, Marcus Jones said that Dewsbury could take tips from a number of towns around Yorkshire that had won awards in the Great British High Street Competition. An insinuation that Dewsbury should look to somewhere like the tourist town of Helmsley in North Yorkshire for ideas of how to regenerate itself.
This isn’t the first time Sherriff has raised the issue, having asked twice orally and once in written questions last year.
“This was the most despicable piece of electioneering imaginable. The Tories have reneged on many promises made before the election such as on elderly care costs, tax credits and transport infrastructure. However this was a deliberate and targeted false promise for the people of Dewsbury in a desperate attempt to save my predecessor from losing his seat.
“I have been pushing for answers on this for months and have been fobbed off by Government Ministers who have complete disregard for Dewsbury. This latest answer from Marcus Jones is simply unbelievable. Does he really think Dewsbury could look to the affluent North Yorkshire town of Helmsley for tips? There is no comparison between the two towns and to suggest that there is shows just how out of touch the Minister really is.
“I have many constituents contact me with concerns about Dewsbury Town Centre. The Government has let them down but I will keep pushing for both an apology and investment in our town.”