Blackpool South’s new MP Chris Webb used his maiden speech in parliament to recognise the DIY culture that exists in the town.

After recalling “painful statistics” on poverty, health inequality and knife crime, Webb urged the House of Commons to “look behind the headlines, and beyond the bright lights of the promenade to find the real story of our town”.

“It’s one that is alive with grassroots creativity, culture, a thriving LGBTQ+ community and a wealth of fascinating lives that could only have been lived in Blackpool,” he said in his speech this morning (24th May).

Webb went on to mention many organisations by name who are “working hard to improve people’s lives in Blackpool South”. Among them were Reclaim Blackpool, the project mapping sexual harassment in Blackpool that began life on Blackpool Social Club, and Skool of Street, the charity based at House of Wingz that inspires young people through hip hop arts and culture.

Webb’s dedication to the creative community in Blackpool echoed the commitment made on culture by Labour leader Kier Starmer in March. A flautist in his younger days, Starmer spoke of wanting the arts to be for everyone, everywhere.

“There’s no building back without the arts,” he said. “We will work together hand in glove with our creative industries. Together we will place the arts back where they belong – at the centre of a new, hopeful, modern story of Britain and what we stand for”.

Webb delivered his speech at the last opportunity before Parliament is dissolved following the announcement of a general election on 4th July.

New MPs can take months to make their maiden speech, but in his Webb joked that had he not made it now he “would have risked a lifetime of being the answer to an obscure pub quiz question about which MP never gave a maiden speech in their first Parliamentary term”.

The speech was made in the House of Commons, just 17 days after Blackpool South’s first locally-born MP for 60 years was sworn in to Parliament.

Webb will now return to Blackpool to continue his constituency work before Parliament is officially dissolved on 30th May ahead of the general election on 4th July.

While tourism recovery is central to the town’s future it is now time to focus on the recovery of our communities beyond the prom too.

Webb’s heartfelt speech paid tribute to a number of important figures in his life, from politicians to teachers and family members. He described himself as “a child of tourism”, his mum having moved to Blackpool to become a Butlins Redcoat.

“But I am also a child of public service,” he said, before going on to trace his family roots serving the country and communities back 500 years.

“It was while tracing my paternal grandmother’s family history that I was amazed to find out just how deep my family roots in public service go,” Webb said.

“I discovered that in 1535, my 14th great grandfather, Edmund Moody, saved the life of Henry VIII. On 6th October 1541, the 32-year-old King was out hunting with his hawk when he tried to leap over a ditch with a pole that broke.

“Edmund Moody was a footman of the King who leapt into the water and saved him from drowning.”

But Webb pointed out that he “wasn’t raised on stories of brave footmen who saved kings” but of those of his nan and her sisters who had “a tough life growing up in Liverpool… wearing newspapers for shoes and battling TB during wartime and without an NHS”.

He paid tribute to the welfare reforms of a progressive post-war Labour government which allowed his family to progress in life.

“My hometown’s motto is Progress,” he said. “The town that pioneered municipal street lighting, electric tramways and modern tourism for the working classes has continued to forge ahead even in the face of deep spending cuts.

“Now with a Labour MP, and under an imminent Labour government, I will fight to make sure progress is possible – for everyone in Blackpool.”

Blackpool was a key feature of Webb’s maiden speech. He pointed out that since the pandemic, the town has seen “record numbers of visitors rightly returning to our town which has so much to offer”.

But while tourism recovery is central to the town’s future, Webb said, “it is now time to focus on the recovery of our communities beyond the prom too.

“I will work tirelessly for them and hope to prove that the right politics has the power to change people’s lives,” he said.

Reclaim Blackpool - Mapping Sexual Harrasment
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