OUR town centres contribute a great deal to our area with their fantastic shops, restaurants, markets and pubs but, despite them being the hearts of our area, the councils aren’t doing enough to promote them.

People are definitely still passionate about their communities and the response to the Parliamentary Pub of the Year competition is just one of the many examples that proves this.

The competition has seen each constituency nominate their favourite pub to represent them on the national stage and I thought who better to decide Bolton West and Atherton’s nomination than residents.

Since the competition launch, I’ve seen thousands interacting on social media, liking and commenting on photos in support of their favourite pubs.

The winner of our nomination ‘The Rope and Anchor’ in Atherton especially received great praise for its friendly, warm and local welcome and I congratulate them on their success in the competition so far.

It’s clear people still have a sense of their identity, which is why I have long been calling for our councils to invest in the redevelopment of our local town centre, so we can cherish our unique communities.

With the enthusiasm our councils have shown for out of town shopping centres, we have seen decades of neglect towards our town centres.

With the recent clashes between the Greater Manchester mayor and our council leaders over the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework (GMSF),

I fear this neglect will continue.

They should see GMSF as an opportunity to create a virtuous cycle, by redeveloping our local town centres so that they become the hubs of our communities again.

Shops should be competing to be on our high streets, that are often either within walking distance of our homes or accessible by transport so long as it gets the investment it needs.

Unfortunately, our councils seem much more focussed on creating a vicious cycle, by developing large scale projects away from our local town centres, that prevent people from walking to the shops and with poor public transport links, pressures people to use their cars.

This will also mean that our local economies aren’t getting the investment they need, leading to shop closures.

Councillors are also often raising their concerns about increasing pollution, yet the council leaders continue to invest in out of town developments that will not only increase pollution and congestion, but will also leave those without cars behind.

Our councils should be championing our local town centres rather than neglecting them, so I will continue to call upon our councils to focus their efforts on creating a strong community first which will allow our towns to thrive, so that they can become the hearts of our local area once again for our current and future generations.