Shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds calls for coastal towns protection in Worthing visit
Shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds has called for targeted support for coastal towns during a visit to Worthing.
Mrs Dodds met with local Labour councillors this morning (July 23) and acknowledged the last few months had been 'very, very hard for local businesses', despite their best efforts to prepare for reopening.
She said coastal towns like Worthing needed support targeted at key industries, like tourism, rather than the blanket initiatives offered by Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak.
"We need to make sure coastal towns are protected," said the MP for Oxford East.
That includes more support for people made unemployed, she said, which may hit towns like Worthing harder due to its reliance on visitors who may still be reluctant to travel.
"Confidence is really important," she said.
"I've been in Worthing for a couple of days with my family and clearly businesses are going to a huge amount of effort to make it coronavirus secure."
Mrs Dodds added that the key to boosting confidence was implementing a track and trace system that worked so people know where the infection hotspots are.
Adur's Labour leader Lee Cowen met with Mrs Dodds and said she was aware coastal towns had a 'superficial appearance of affluence' that hides a significant amount of deprivation.
He said the shadow chancellor had reaffirmed Labour's commitment to pushing for adequate funding for local authorities, following the collapse of several leisure centres in Adur which were denied financial support by the council.
The pandemic has also seen West Sussex suffer a disproportionately high number of deaths in care homes compared to the rest of the UK.
In Worthing, the proportion of people dying from coronavirus in care homes was more than twice the national average.
According to Mrs Dodds, Tory cuts over the last decade had left the country's care homes ill-prepared, with a shortfall of 120,000 care workers.
Issues in care homes needed both immediate, and longer term, solutions, she said, and called for a ramping up of testing in homes and more money for safety costs such as PPE and enhanced cleaning.
Longer term, Mrs Dodds called for a National Care Service, similar to the NHS, and meaningful increases to public sector workers' pay that was not undercut by further cuts to public services.
Worthing's Labour group leader, councillor Beccy Cooper, said it was a 'huge surprise and honour' that Mrs Dodds took time out of her family holiday to meet.
“It was particularly useful to be able to discuss local issues with the shadow chancellor and to hear her wholehearted support for our strategy for working much more closely with our communities to provide the services our residents really want," she said.
"This is something we have developed strongly during the pandemic. As shadow chancellor she said she recognised that investment locally in prestige projects was not that best way to get maximum benefit for local residents. The money needs to reach the communities much more directly to have the greatest impact.”
“We were surprised to hear that, despite her huge work commitments as shadow chancellor, she has been following the advance of Labour in the area and the rapidly increasing number of Labour councillors on both Worthing and Adur councils. She committed herself to helping us, in any way she could, to achieve our objective of taking control of both councils in the very near future."