Last updated 24/1/2023:
Funding: In the five years I have been MP, Mansfield has received a significant amount of funding. Just in January of this year we learned that Mansfield had been given £20 million to redevelop the old Beales building and rejuvenate our town centre into something we are all proud of. This is in addition to the over £12 million we have previously received from the Government’s Towns Fund which is to be used on projects like a new leisure and community hub in Warsop to replace the old Meden Sports Centre which closed a few years ago. I’ve also been keen to encourage private investment in our area and helped secure a £76 million investment by Severn Trent as part of their Green Recovery Project. This investment will transform our area, protecting our area from flooding by installing about 15,000 green flood interventions across Mansfield and Warsop. This project finally began last year.
During my time in office we have also had numerous other funding announcements benefitting our region. For example, towards the end of last year it was announced that Mansfield District Council and Unanima Theatre were going to a receive a combined £811,304 to allow them to continue their work promoting arts and culture in Mansfield. Other examples include over £318,000 being awarded to Mansfield to help prevent homelessness.
In December last year I also helped secure funds to rebuild 3 local schools. Meden School, Garibaldi School and All Saints' Catholic Academy are all set to be rebuilt or substantially refurbished thanks to funds I helped secure from central government. I was really pleased to hear this news as I know how vital these rebuilds are for these schools. This was something I had raised consistently with ministers in London to ensure educational opportunities in Mansfield and Warsop are properly supported.
Levelling Up: I am pleased to say that Mansfield and Nottinghamshire as a whole is at the heart of the government’s levelling up agenda. The East Midlands has historically been the region with the lowest amount of funding per head and I have been seeking to change that from my first day. Last year I led Nottinghamshire County Council in negotiating and signing a landmark devolution deal with government. This deal will provide a regional mayor with greater powers over subjects like transport, skills training, planning and many other areas. The deal also came with significant funding for our region with an initial £1 billion coming to our region over a 30 year period, and the opportunity to negotiate a further pot of additional transport funding this year. I have always been clear that a key part of the Levelling Up agenda has to be providing local leaders, who know their areas best, with greater powers over local issues and I am pleased to be helping make this a reality.
Of course, a key part of Levelling Up is also education and improving the life chances of our local kids. As a Further Education Ambassador I’ve pushed for investment in skills training and have worked closely with key partners such as Vision West Nottinghamshire College and Nottingham Trent University. These two organisations now have a significant partnership together in part thanks to that work, and this provides university level courses to people in Mansfield in areas such as Criminal Justice, Nursing and much more. Lifelong learning is also vital to the Levelling Up agenda and I was pleased to launch the Skills for Life campaign. This campaign will help to ensure everybody is able to access courses ranging from basic numeracy skills to advanced technical qualifications with many of these courses being free. This alongside, other programs like the Way to Work scheme and big coming reforms to higher education mean that Mansfield has been and continues to be right at the heart of the Levelling Up agenda.
Standing up for Residents: Since becoming an MP I have consistently raised constituents concerns with ministers and in Parliament. However, the biggest way in which I have been standing up for residents in Mansfield is through my campaign on White Working Class Boys. This group of boys, who make up a large percentage of my constituents, consistently have some of the worst educational outcomes of all groups yet before I became an MP they were hardly spoken about. I am pleased to have led debates on this subject, highlighting the issue and pressing government on what they can do to support these boys. This campaign has gained a lot of media attention, lead to a full Select Committee Inquiry in to the subject and I was pleased to see government take steps to address the poor educational outcomes of these boys. The Commission on Race Disparities in 2021 recognised that, despite a constant focus on supporting BME/LGBT groups, it’s actually the poorest white British children who have some of the worst outcomes, and for the first time made this a core part of Government’s mission to address inequality. I’m proud to have played my part in that.
I have also stood up for residents during the current cost of living rise. I have been in constant contact with ministers and officials raising cases of where support has been missed, such as with park homes, and this has led to government announcing separate schemes to assist those people previously excluded from support. As Council Leader, I directly run many of these support services, ensuring that things like the Household Support Fund are passed to residents who most need help.
Highways: In the 2021 County Council elections it was clear that the state of Nottinghamshire’s roads was the number one priority for residents in Mansfield and the county. As Leader of the Council I set up a cross-party panel to review how we maintain our highways and to explore best practice from other councils and organisations. This review came back with over 50 recommendations to improve highway maintenance and these were accepted in full.
The main finding of this review was a focus on longer-term patching repairs as opposed to the quick reactionary jobs that had been the focus previously. This means that while some potholes may take longer to fill in, when they are filled in the repairs will be longer lasting. As a council we still carry out these reactionary repairs where legally obliged, for example if a pothole is a safety hazard, however our priority was to try and reduce the amount of short term repairs done.
Since this review, I am pleased to say that we have invested over £15 million extra into maintaining Nottinghamshire’s roads and tripled the number of patching teams who carry out these long term repairs. Furthermore, these permanent patching repairs have doubled since the review took place. I know just how important the state of Nottinghamshire’s roads is to people and while almost 3,000 miles of road can’t be fixed overnight, I know that following the review we have put in place the systems will allow us to leave Nottinghamshire’s roads in a better state than we found it.
Investing in the future: Towards the end of last year, we had the fantastic announcement that North Nottinghamshire will play host to a revolutionary new STEP Fusion reactor. The investment will impact across the county and our region with it set to bring in £20 billion in combined investment from government and private partners. Nuclear fusion energy has long been touted as the energy source of the future and there have recently been significant breakthroughs in the technology. As such, having this reactor in North Nottinghamshire will not only make our region the UK hub for nuclear energy and research, but also a hub for clean energy production. Alongside this project we also have the exciting new East Midlands Freeport which will help attract businesses to our area, helping our local economy develop and creating as many as 60,000 jobs.
March 2022 Update:
FUNDING: Mansfield has been invited to bid for funding from the Government’s £75 million boost in culture funding, which has been provided to make sure places which have been culturally under-served in the past get a better distribution of arts funding. Mansfield is also receiving a £31,264 funding boost for Mansfield to support domestic abuse victims. Our area is set to be transformed by Severn Trent's £76 million Green Recovery project, which will protect our town from flooding during major storms, and aims to install around 15,000 green interventions across the district, in a series of ambitious projects set to take off in 2022. A trial of this scale has never been seen in the UK before. Mansfield is set to be at the heart of future planning policy for new neighbourhoods and public spaces, after becoming a pilot project with funding to lead on this.
LEVELLING-UP: We were at the heart of Government’s levelling-up white paper and the announcements are going to bring in massive levels investment to areas like Mansfield and Warsop. After highlighting the opportunities devolution could bring to our region, we received confirmation that Nottinghamshire will be among the first places in the UK to benefit from additional powers and funds passed down to local leaders, which I have consistently pushed for in Parliament. Discussions with local leaders have begun and this is a really exciting time for our region.
As a Further Education Ambassador I’ve pushed for investment in skills to help people across Mansfield and Warsop progress and get the jobs they want. Fantastic that Government is listening and launched the Skills for Life campaign, which will apply to people of all ages. It ranges from basic numeracy and literacy up to advanced technical qualifications, and many of them are free. Additionally, the Way to Work scheme will help accelerate people getting in to work will in turn boost out national recovery from Covid-19. Government also listened to my calls to ensure students study worthwhile degrees and are offered a range of different pathways, by making big reforms to Higher Education.
STANDING UP FOR RESIDENTS: After raising various constituent’s concerns in Parliament, I’ve already influenced Government policy as the TV license fee will be frozen for two years, Government has u-turned on compulsory vaccinations for NHS and care staff (and I went further by urging the Health Secretary to reach out to staff and bring them back into the sector), constituents will be helped with the cost of living through various measures, including a £350 boost to help with rising energy costs.
Conservative-led Nottinghamshire County Council approved its Budget to invest in our Highways and double high-quality, long-term road repairs, invest in proactive and preventative care services for our most vulnerable, investing in greener and more efficient properties, delivering more jobs, skills and infrastructure for local residents. I backed up my words in a debate on Kinship Care with action at the Council as we're investing in a new Kinship Care support service to offer more help, more support to overcome financial and practical difficulties, and more incentives for those extended families to take in vulnerable children when parents can no longer cope, to get better outcomes for the kids in a loving home and avoid expensive residential care.
INVESTING IN THE FUTURE: North Notts in the final five shortlist for STEP Fusion Energy, which is a prototype renewable energy plant that would create jobs, invest billions in the area and be a massive boost for skills in engineering locally too. Even more jobs for my constituents! I’ve joined forces with other Notts MPs and we’re pushing this as hard as we can by holding events in Parliament, meeting with Ministers and raising this opportunity with as many people as possible. I’m also working with colleagues to bring the Great British Rail head office and hub to Derby, to create more jobs and investment in our area, as well as sitting on the Board of the East Mids Freeport that aims to create 60,000 jobs.
ACHIEVEMENTS IN 2017-2021:
EDUCATION: Education is my passion and I’ve constantly put pressure on Government to make Further Education and technical skills a huge priority for the future. I was selected to be a Further Education Ambassador and have been shouting up about the importance of skills and flexible learning. Government has clearly listened as the Higher and Further Education Minister announced new levelling up plans to improve outcomes for students in Mansfield and Warsop. The Department for Education also introduced FE reforms through the Skills for Jobs White Paper. The £2 billion Kickstart Scheme has helped 130 young people across Mansfield into work (as of November 2021) thanks to local employers signing up to the scheme. I also supported a cross-party letter, which persuaded Government not to get rid of BTECs and to improve access to T-level qualifications.
I set up a group which brought together our college with Nottingham Trent University - a relationship which has now become a formal partnership with millions of investment in the college site and new HE courses being delivered. We also secured the capital funding from the DfE for the College to open its new A-Level centre, and I continue to work with WNC and NTU on projects where we can work with the DfE on this new technical skills agenda.
Schools in Nottinghamshire have been awarded a £55 million funding boost to provide students with extra support, as well as specifically targeting SEN pupils. The 2021 Budget committed to increasing skills spending by 43%/£33.8 billion, expanding T-Levels, increasing funding for apprenticeships and rolling out the Lifetime Skills Guarantee. £10 million was invested in schools in four different areas, including Mansfield, to help ‘level up’ education with local targeted initiatives focussed on academy trusts. West Notts College received £1.3 million as part of £200 million funding to repair and refurbish college building and campuses as part of the Government’s work to overhaul FE.
EQUALITIES: The Education Select Committee’s report agreed with my views that disadvantaged white pupils have been “let down and neglected” and that the term ‘white privilege’ is incorrect as white pupils are not at an advantage. I successfully campaigned to have the challenges faced by white working class children included as part of Government's Race Disparity Review, which made clear that this is a key challenge in our society. The report confirmed much of what I have been saying about the need to address socio-economic and geographical inequalities as a priority, supporting children like those in Mansfield. Alongside this review, I have lobbied Government successfully to change our approach to the way we tackle and consider inequalities, to include those socio-economic and geographical factors as well as physical characteristics. The new Equalities Hub has been set up to work on these issues and will be based in the North of England.
I also campaigned against compulsory ‘unconscious bias training’, arguing that it had no evidenced benefit and delivered negative consequences on diversity and fairness. It was then announced that this training would be scrapped.
TRANSPORT: The Government’s Integrated Rail Plan delivered on my key asks: a new station at Toton where we’ll develop a hub for growth and thousands of new jobs, a new ‘Maid Marian Line’ connection to get people from Woodhouse and Mansfield stations directly to those jobs via Sutton and Kirkby, a Robin Hood Line extension so that Warsop gets added to the rail service for the first time in decades, as well as joining up Edwinstow, Ollerton and Sherwood Forest. This was all warmly welcomed by residents! We've secured close to £20 million for investment in North Notts roads like the A617 and the A614, where spades are to be put in to the ground on projects this year, as well as putting an extra £24 million in to road maintenance.
HEALTH: Working with Lee Anderson MP we secured investment in the A&E at Kings Mill Hospital. King’s Mill was also selected as one of 40 places to get a new Community Diagnostic Centre, which will help achieve earlier diagnoses for patients and lead to a reduction in hospital visits and waits. Mansfield and Ashfield CCG was selected by NHS England to be one of the first areas to receive Targeted Lung Health Checks, which will help over 46,000 people aged 55-74 locally.
CRIME: We have taken tougher action of pet theft, which ensures people that steal pets will be put behind bars for up to five years. I called on Government to take tougher action on those who obstruct our highways (including by gluing themselves to the road.. as you do..) and they delivered by introducing tougher penalties in the Police and Crime Bill. In December 2020, it was announced that Nottinghamshire Police Force is set to receive an additional £12.1 million in funding for the following year. As Chairman of Blue Collar Conservatism, I secured the introduction of a Police Covenant that will help protect out Officers behind the scenes, alongside the huge recruitment boost.
REGENERATION: We’re at the heart of regeneration plans as Mansfield secured a £12.3 million Town Deal, which includes a new Leisure and Community Centre for Warsop, as well as a further £150,000 to put together a business case to secure money from the Levelling Up Fund. £1,497,000 to Nottinghamshire County Council from the Rural Mobility Fund and £3 billion for the Bus Revolution. £97,244 for Mansfield’s High Streets from the Welcome Back Fund. £44 million was awarded to Notts and Derbyshire (including the Lindhurst Development) from the Getting Building Fund, to invest in shovel-ready housing and infrastructure projects. I worked alongside other MPs to successfully secure a new East Midlands Freeport in our region, with the potential to create up to 60,000 jobs across the area and support our plans to boost skills and the green recovery.
FOREIGN AID & IMMIGRATION: I campaigned to get Government to make Foreign Aid work better for the UK's interests. This process which has now begun with the merger of the International Development department with the Foreign Office, as we look to use that funding for more strategic UK benefits. I successfully lobbied for a reduction in Foreign Aid, from 0.7% to 0.5% of our GDP. The New Plan for Immigration sets out how Government will seek to control illegal immigration now the UK has taken back control of illegal immigration by ending free movement and introducing a new points-based immigration system.
EVERYTHING ELSE: I've worked on the Education Select Committee, on key inquiries such as the issues in Special Educational Needs Provision, and on the Women and Equalities Select Committee looking at the processes of Gender Transition and the role of the Equalities Office, making recommendations to Government. During the pandemic I worked as Parliamentary Private Secretary in the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, supporting hundreds of local people and businesses to access support as well as fielding the queries and getting answers for all 650 Members of Parliament on behalf of Ministers and the Department.
I secured a £2 million fund from Government specifically for capital investment in Miner's Welfares, to enable them to maintain and improve facilities for our community. I also got £60,000 funding to map and increase pollinator corridors and protect our green spaces.
Pre-covid we secured almost £2 million of extra funding for supporting rough sleepers directed to our area, and the focus on this policy area during the pandemic added much more to this amount besides. Rough sleeping has fallen in the town significantly (according to local authority data). I've also secured donations of over £15k to the Beacon Centre homelessness service.
AWARDS: I’ve raised money for Macmillan and won the Most Creative Coffee Morning award. Parliamentary Beard of the Year Winner 2017. ‘Beer Champion’ award, in recognition of my support for the Long Live the Local campaign. As a long-time supporter of the Long Live the Local campaign, I was delighted the Chancellor announced a cut on duties on draft beers and cutting taxes on pubs, reforming alcohol duties to make them more logical and support pubs/breweries. I’ve been nominated for national ‘MP of the Year’ awards twice.