Bolsover has fallen behind the rest of Derbyshire and the UK but this did not happen overnight. Despite the vast improvements seen since the Conservatives took control of Derbyshire County Council in 2017 and my election in 2019, we are still feeling the pain from long-term inaction by Labour-run local government who did not represent residents, pursued limited low-skilled jobs instead of investing in education, allowed rates of childhood deprivation to grow faster than the rest of Derbyshire and the rest of England, and oversaw under-investment in transport infrastructure leading to businesses leaving our area and difficulties for those that remain.
Fixing these issues will filter into growth in all areas, lifting people out of poverty and bringing better opportunities for our children.
Since 2019 we have already started to see things turn around. The recently announced Sixth Form for Bolsover, a commitment to investing in local transport projects, mega projects at Rolls Royce Derby and the West Burton Nuclear Power Plant in neighbouring Bassetlaw providing long-term employment for high-skilled workers, the creation of a freeport – which I led the campaign for in Westminster - to drive investment and encourage start-ups to set up shop in the East Midlands, and home-ownership schemes to promote communities and stop the brain drain that has plagued areas like Bolsover for decades.
For children, only 58% of secondary school pupils in Bolsover go to a school ranked ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’, far below the national average.
The relative child poverty rate is over 7% higher than the rest of the country and the highest in Derbyshire. Just 43% of households have access to gigabit broadband which limits at-home learning.
And outside of Derby City, Bolsover also has the highest rate of child deprivation in Derbyshire. These are structural and generational issues caused by a long-term lack of local political leadership and poor planning decisions spanning decades.
For those who have left school and are looking for work, annual pay is almost 20% below the national average and the percentage of adults working in higher-skilled and higher-paid jobs (‘upper occupations’) is the lowest in Derbyshire at just 38.6%, compared to the national average of 51.7%. This has also led to bankruptcy rates in Bolsover being the highest in Derbyshire and close to double the England average.
General health is also a major concern in Bolsover. Bolsover has higher than national, and higher than regional, rates of COPD, coronary heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity. This also impacts our local economy, with the rate of adults who are long-term sick being significantly above the England average.
It is my job to tackle these long-standing and deeply engrained issues and that is exactly what I am doing. I would like to set out in these articles exactly what I am currently focusing on locally and in Westminster to make this happen.