Paul Rowen's New Year Message

January 1, 2010 12:00 AM

Rochdale MP Paul Rowen2009 has been a difficult year for many folk in Rochdale. The recession has hit hard. This time last year Woolworths was closing its doors with over 600 jobs lost locally. Many other local companies have also been hit hard and unemployment, particularly for young people, has hit record heights.

The MP's expenses scandal has shattered the public's confidence in politicians and our democracy. Like many people I was shocked at the antics of some of my senior colleagues whose home hopping and flat swapping seemed more appropriate for a banana republic rather than the UK. We must complete the reform of our parliamentary system so that what has happened this year cannot happen again.

Gordon Brown, despite several attempted coups, remained as PM with an almost messianic belief in his own judgement - shared by a dwindling band of Brownites. The UK also lost its last two survivors of the Great War.

Locally we have seen the closure of the Rochdale - Oldham Loopline after over 150 years, a start of the new Six Form College, Rochdale AFC at the top of League 2 and the rebirth of Rochdale Hornets. Also, I would like to make a special mention to Emily Pilling, believed to be Rochdale's oldest person, who sadly died at the age of 109.

So if 2009 was a mixed bag what can we look forward to in 2010? There will be a General Election before June 6th and a record number of MPs are standing down - going before they are pushed? Labour will struggle to hold onto power, however despite Gordon Brown's unpopularity David Cameron has yet to seal the deal with the British electorate. Many rightly remain suspicious that his words do not match his intent. That gives my party the Liberal Democrats the opportunity to push for real change both in the way our country is run and in how people are treated. In twelve years of a Labour Government Britain has become a more unequal society. So fairness must be at the heart of that change. It should mean the fat cats paying more, and end to banker's bonuses. That's why Vince Cable's policy of people who earn less than £10,000 being exempt from paying tax is a sensible and fair solution.

What does it hold for Rochdale? I look forward to seeing Rochdale AFC in league One - playing and beating Oldham again! Our new Six Form College will open so youngsters will not have to travel to Bury or Oldham for the courses they want to study. Work should start on the new municipal offices and bus station which will ultimately mean that the Black Box can be demolished. I cannot see anyone shedding a tear at that. Work will start on rebuilding our secondary schools like Hollingworth High.

The Council has its first ever female Leader - in Councillor Irene Davidson. I know our interests will be looked after and one of her first jobs will be to oversee the first Council houses being built for a generation here in Rochdale.

The Council's efforts to support local businesses will continue and strengthen the employment prospects of our town.

I hope that whoever is in government will provide more train carriages on the Rochdale - Manchester line. I hope that Rochdale companies will emerge from the recession fitter, leaner and best able to take advantage of the growth that must follow. I hope that I can continue to serve my home town as your MP and whatever the future holds for you all I wish you all the very best for 2010!