In the House of Commons today (21st November), Michael Fabricant referred to the Levelling Up Bid by Lichfield District Council for funding for the proposed new leisure centre.
Michael told the Secretary of State: “Although Lichfield is generally regarded as an area to which others might wish to level up to, we actually do have areas of deprivation, and for that reason can I urge him to look at our Levelling Up bid because it is desperately needed for all of Lichfield’s residents, not just those in expensive houses, but those who are in more difficult positions.
Communities Secretary Michael Gove replied: “Lichfield is the jewel of Staffordshire, but even the most glittering jewels sometimes have flaws, and as a rough diamond himself, I know the Honourable Member will appreciate that! I do recognise that there is a need to help all those parts of the UK, and indeed the West Midlands, where even though there may be prosperity, there is also inequality that needs to be addressed.”
This follows a letter written to Michael Gove a week ago in which Mr Fabricant said:
“The proposed facility is located within one of the most deprived areas of my constituency, Curborough Ward, some facts about which I think will surprise you:
- 22.6% of children live in income deprived families (worse than the UK national average) in the ward.
- Adult and child obesity are high with 183.8 adults per 1,000 population and 21% of children within year 6 being classed as obese, again greater than the national average.
- Male life expectancy in the ward sits below the national average, being 77 years old.
“My residents in Lichfield City and the wider district have to rely on a very dated, unfit leisure centre which does not and cannot meet the demand of the growing local population (growing by 25% over the next 17 years) with oversubscribed classes which hinders any progress from being made on improving the health of the ward and wider district’s population. This community facility will see over 500,000 visits annually, a population-level intervention in the post-Covid recovery of our community. It will deliver 60 new jobs locally – 40 construction jobs over an 18-month period, and 20 permanent full-time posts in Leisure, including at least 5 apprenticeships, reducing the ward’s claimant count currently sitting at 4.5%, higher than the national and nearly double the rest of the district’s figure.”
Michael now says: “This bid for swimming pool funding was always going to be difficult for Lichfield. The Levelling Up Fund to which the District Council has applied is meant for ex-industrial areas, former mining villages, and run-down seaside towns. It’s hard for Lichfield to present itself as one of these. Nevertheless, I will continue to lobby for this much needed facility.”