A FEW weeks ago, fifty towns across the country were awarded a share of £1bn to redevelop and invest in their High Streets.

The Leigh constituency sorely deserved this investment.

I’m regularly contacted by residents who are rightly concerned about the town centre.

With shops closing and boarded up, a loss of public services and a rise in antisocial behaviour, I fully understand and share the deep sadness and worry for the future of our town centres.

As a post-industrial town that has been held back following deindustrialisation and then brutal austerity, this form of investment was the very least we deserved to give our community the fair shot at success that we deserve.

I’m always aware that while our towns are a fantastic place to raise a family, as I do, the hard reality is that to secure the inward investment we need to succeed, to build our local economy and to produce local jobs, we must transform our town centre.

We have already proved that we have the grit and determination to make this happen. The incredible Leigh Spinners Mill that has, from the grassroots, renovated and restored one of our heritage cotton mills into an exciting business and community hub shows exactly what we can achieve when we come together.

But to complete our transformation we need that external helping hand that towns like ours have been without.

So is it any wonder that so many people tell me on the doorstep that they feel our towns have been held back or neglected?

That is why I find the fact that Leigh was not considered for this funding so bitterly disappointing and I would like to reaffirm my commitment to doing everything I can to continue to fight for crucial investment like this.

Since I was first elected as the local MP, I have been relentlessly making the point that for our community to thrive we must restore our town centre in conjunction with reconnecting our towns with the rail network.

Last week we took another step forward to restoring rail connectivity.

A public meeting organised by Golborne’s brilliant local councillors expressed how important train access will be to connect businesses and residents with the employment, educational and leisure opportunities that can transform our community.

The plans to reopen Golborne Station are evidently the most credible and realistic option to restore rail connectivity to the constituency.

After two years of meetings and campaigning both locally and in Westminster, I am enormously hopeful that as a community we can take these proposals forward.

The Golborne plans must also be in collaboration with improved transport connectivity across the constituency and these proposals are not the only plans for rail access to the constituency.

I will be fighting for connectivity at more than just one station, but with our lack of investment I believe it is important to firstly support the most achievable and realistic proposals.

I will shortly be meeting with the regional transport bodies and launching a petition and formal campaign on my Facebook page that I hope you will sign and support.

No longer can we go on with our voice being ignored by those in Whitehall. We must send a clear message that we deserve our fair share of investment.

Together we will transform our towns.