Blackpool hit hard by austerity claims shadow chancellor

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Coastal towns have been hit “very hard” by years of austerity, shadow chancellor John McDonnell claimed today as Labour frontbenchers launch a campaign aiming to boost the nation’s high streets.

He told an audience in Blackpool that places like the resort have “not been treated fairly” in terms of Government investment.

His address at a Road To Rebuilding The Economy conference comes as other shadow cabinet members visit towns across England and Wales to mark Small Business Saturday.

They and hundreds of party activists are due to set out a five-point plan to boost retailers and retain services for communities.

Mr McDonnell was due to say: “Eight years of austerity have hit many coastal towns like Blackpool very hard.

“Areas like Blackpool have not been treated fairly when it comes to government investment.

“My aim is to ensure that Blackpool receives its fair share of government funding to grow a vibrant and prosperous local economy.

“Our struggling high streets are one of the clearest symptoms of the Government’s failure to invest in our communities.

“Labour’s five-point plan for British high streets will help breathe life back into our struggling town centres.

“And Labour will deliver a fair deal for Blackpool and Britain’s coastal communities.”

As well as Mr McDonnell’s visit to Blackpool, ministers and activists will visit constituencies from Carlisle and Newcastle to Swindon and Glamorgan, speaking with shoppers and business owners about the challenges they face.

The party’s five-point plan includes banning cash machine charges and stopping the closure of bank and post office branches, improving local bus services, providing free town centre wifi, creating a register of landlords who have empty premises and introducing an annual revaluation of business rates.

Shadow business secretary Rebecca Long Bailey said: “Small businesses are the backbone of the British economy and high streets are the heart of our communities.

“We cannot continue to allow our high streets to decline as they have under the Tories.”