The newly-elected leader of the Labour Party, Sir Keir Starmer, was in Gedling today telling leaders that revitalising town centres post covid is vital for our sense of pride.
He was speaking during a visit to Gedling Country Park at which he spoke to carers and families of people in care.
He also said the social care system was in need of significant structural change, and could not return to ‘business as usual’.
Sir Keir was joined on the visit by the leader and deputy leader of Gedling borough council, and the former MP for Gedling Vernon Coaker.
With Nottingham City Centre and all high streets under significant pressure, and with the collapse of the Broadmarsh Centre project, the Labour leader was asked about what sector-specific help high streets like Nottingham should get.
He said: “The high street is really important.
“There’s a huge amount of pride in our high streets, and it really matters to towns, to cities and to villages.
“What we the Labour Party have called for is a high street hospitality fund.
“Quite a bit of the money that was being made available for business loans and support grants hasn’t been used. Put that into your high street and your hospitality because there’s a huge amount of pride in our high streets and we cannot allow our already-struggling high streets to be put under further stress and strain.
“We need to reinvigorate the high street and regenerate our centres, and I’ve been through Nottingham this morning, and I can see how important the area is, and we need to preserve and build on that.
“The high street is not just a string of shops and post offices etcetera, it’s a place that people have pride in, and we need to recognise that.”
Sir Keir was also asked about his conversations with carers, what needed to be done to improve the care system, and whether he supported Labour’s previous manifesto commitment for a National Care Service.
He said: “We need to put more money into our social care system, we need a long-term plan, we need to recognise the skills that are used by the staff in our care homes, and we need a framework around it.
“Whether that’s national or local is a debate that we need to have, but we need a common set of standards, a common and understood framework for our social care sector. It’s desperately needed.”
When asked whether Labour had a ‘long term plan’ for the care system, he said: “The plan has to be, in the end, a cross-party plan, because this is a long-term project, so therefore we need to bring the various sectors together.
“But any long-term plan has to have an agreed framework, standards and recognition of the work and skills that go on in the sector.
“We can’t continue to underpay and undervalue those that have been on the front line.”