Mid-Derbyshire MP reflects on 'Metro Strategy'

If you live in Belper, this week you could be forgiven for thinking you are on the moon not nine miles from Derby.

You have been ignored in the future plans cooked up for the region by the left-wing leaders of Nottingham and Derby city councils.

They have joined together in a ‘metro strategy’ which is the “urban expression of the total capacity for economic growth across the collective area of Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Derby and Nottingham.”

Any idea what that means? Me neither.

In the launch of their brave new world, Derby and Nottingham city councils said they would “work together to attract new investment; supporting businesses to innovate, diversify and create new markets, increase productivity and strengthen supply chains.”

Hold on just a moment. I had thought that the Local Enterprise Partnership, D2N2, had been doing that for years.

The councils then go on to say they will be “enhancing leadership, knowledge and creativity of skilled workers; nurturing young people to be ready for work in the 21st century.”

This would be funny if it were not so serious. The lamentable record of Derby City Council in showing any leadership under Labour has meant, in some areas, the city has virtually ground to a halt.

Of course, nobody would argue against a third strand of the ‘strategy’ - better transport infrastructure - but it is crystal clear that needs to extend beyond the Derby to Nottingham corridor. For example, in recent months I have argued strongly for more trains to stop in Belper.

It is obvious to me that Nottingham’s leader Jon Collins, stifled by the city council’s tight boundaries, is hungry for power and feels he can influence the desperately weak Derby City Council leader Ranjit Banwait.

Meanwhile, Mr Banwait, desperate to hang on to his job as his own party gangs up against him, has sought what he believes to be a powerful ally to try to secure his position.

If they believe what they say and are trying to attract government money and worldwide investment to the region they should widen their net outside of their old pals’ club.

If Mr Collins thinks that working together is the way forward why does he not enlist the councils which neighbour Nottingham - namely, Rushcliffe, Gedling and Broxtowe?

Perhaps he knows that they would not dance to the piper’s tune.

And if Mr Banwait wants the best for Derbyshire, should he not listen to the views of those on his doorstep rather than go cap in hand in Nottingham?

You may ask why this political posturing is important to you.

As you know, I care passionately for the people of Mid-Derbyshire and I fear that this constituency could be pushed into the shadows while the two egos attempt to grab the limelight and, more importantly, devolved money.

I ask why Derby and Nottingham should be given prominence over towns such as Belper.

Of course, I am not against government money coming to the region but if we are to move forward it must be together with full consultation of the people and all political parties across both counties.

Only if that were the case could I be on board but even then, be assured, I would fight with venom to make certain it were in the best interests of the people of Belper and Mid-Derbyshire.