The Labour MP for Great Grimsby talks fishing, regeneration projects and Brexit.
The story of this year’s local elections was Tory obliteration. The party lost 1,296 councillors, hundreds more than even the gloomiest pollsters predicted. But a few patches of the country, including Grimsby, bucked the national trend.
The Conservatives did reasonably well in several areas where they have historically faced hostility, including Barrow-in-Furness and Blackpool, where they dented the Labour majority. They won eight councillors in Stoke-on-Trent and seven in Darlington, putting the latter into no overall control. Finally, they took control of three councils: North East Derbyshire, Walsall, and North East Lincolnshire.
The last of those is home to Grimsby, where Labour MP Melanie Onn was reelected in 2017 by 2,500 votes. “I had thought, if we think [Brexit] is going to hit us, it’s going to hit the Conservatives twice as hard,” she says. “And actually, it didn’t. She observes that voters speaking to Labour campaigners on the doorstep brought up Brexit, but with the Conservatives they mainly raised local issues. The result saw the Tories win a majority for the first time since North East Lincolnshire Council was formed in 1996.
“Brexit plays a part in this obviously,” Onn says, “but at the heart of people’s concerns in Grimsby is that they feel like it is a bit forgotten.” She describes ageing Victorian buildings – some of them listed, many privately owned – which stand abandoned and dilapidated in the town centre. “Nobody seems to take responsibility for them, and that I think then frustrates people because they look around, and they see some of the impact of cuts of over the last nine years.” Coupled with rising antisocial behaviour, it makes people feel like the town centre is “not for them anymore”.
The town’s impressive architecture is
Source:: New Statesman