Labour's deputy leader Angela Rayner on Kettering's bingo hall, M&S site and revitalisation work as she visits town on campaign trail

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Labour’s deputy leader said people in Kettering have been let down by broken promises as she visited the town on the campaign trail today (Tuesday).

Angela Rayner spoke to businesses and members of the public with Labour’s General Election candidate for Kettering, Rosie Wrighting, about their plan to boost the economy and High Street.

She then sat down with the Northants Telegraph to discuss issues Kettering faces including the future of some of its big empty units as well as when work could start on the nearby Isham Bypass.

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Ms Rayner said she did not see how Ms Wrighting’s election rival Philip Hollobone could stand on the Conservatives’ record in power since 2010.

Angela Rayner (right) with Labour's Kettering candidate Rosie Wrighting. Pictures by Alison Bagley.Angela Rayner (right) with Labour's Kettering candidate Rosie Wrighting. Pictures by Alison Bagley.
Angela Rayner (right) with Labour's Kettering candidate Rosie Wrighting. Pictures by Alison Bagley.

She said: “They’ve really let people down in Kettering and across the UK.

"People are desperate for change and they’ve had 14 years of broken promises where Rishi Sunak says we’ve turned a corner but I say to the people of Kettering – do you feel better off?

"It’s a real scandal that for the first time in generations that people are going to leave the next generation worse off than the generation before.”

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Ms Rayner arrived in Horsemarket before walking down Market Street where she spoke to Santos & Penny’s Barber Shop and then KSN Clothing in The Yards.

Ms Rayner and Ms Wrighting visited KSN Clothing. Pictures by Alison Bagley.Ms Rayner and Ms Wrighting visited KSN Clothing. Pictures by Alison Bagley.
Ms Rayner and Ms Wrighting visited KSN Clothing. Pictures by Alison Bagley.

She then went to look at the High Street before visiting Magnolia the Florist and then Cafeness, where she spoke to Cransley Hospice founder Rev Dr John Smith and Johnny’s Happy Place founder Denise Mackay.

The shadow deputy prime minister said there was a buzz about Kettering but that it faced challenges and that Labour’s proposed reforms to business rates and tackling anti-social behaviour would be ‘crucial’ to the town.

When asked about the Conservatives’ £4m investment to revitalise the town centre, which included new pavement and benches, she said: “Part of the problem with the Conservatives’ levelling-up funding is that they took £50 out of your back pocket and gave you £20 and made you think that they’ve invested, whereas actually the core funding for services and true levelling-up and supporting the economy here hasn’t happened.

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"There’s not been local growth plans which is what we’ve introduced, there hasn’t been the growing of the economy...you can block pave an area but until you tackle skills, employment and the local economy through supporting the businesses then actually you’re not going to embed that true levelling-up.”

Ms Rayner also visited Cafeness, which opened last year. Pictures by Alison Bagley.Ms Rayner also visited Cafeness, which opened last year. Pictures by Alison Bagley.
Ms Rayner also visited Cafeness, which opened last year. Pictures by Alison Bagley.

A project to transform Kettering’s former Gala Bingo hall – which once housed a huge cannabis factory – into a gig venue with a cafe, shops, work spaces and more has already missed out on Government funding once.

Ms Rayner said Labour would enable communities to purchase community assets such as the bingo hall – but she would not commit to funding the project.

She said: “It’s an impressive building but at the moment it’s an eyesore where people have seen crime and they want to see the difference that can be made.”

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Ms Rayner also hit out at the ‘scandal of stagnation’ which has left large units vacant, including the former M&S site.

Ms Rayner speaks to Magnolia the Florist in Market Street. Pictures by Alison Bagley.Ms Rayner speaks to Magnolia the Florist in Market Street. Pictures by Alison Bagley.
Ms Rayner speaks to Magnolia the Florist in Market Street. Pictures by Alison Bagley.

She said: “We cannot have an economy which is high tax, zero growth. It’s absolutely stifling innovation and you can really see it symbolically as you see in the old M&S building.

"Without that growth where businesses have the opportunity to invest, the confidence to invest in Britain’s economy, then we’re really not going to deal with the challenges we face on our High Streets and that’s why growth is our number one mission.”

We also asked Labour’s deputy leader whether – if elected – her Goverment would be the one that would finally see spades put in the ground on the long-awaited Isham Bypass project.

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The scheme has been allocated funding in the past – most recently last year when the Conservatives said they’d pay for it using scrapped HS2 money – but work is yet to begin despite its planned opening date of 2028.

But Ms Rayner said she would not commit to projects without looking at the funding the Conservatives have promised.

She said: “If the money is there and it’s earmarked then that’s obviously something we would look at, but I’m not going to sit here and talk about individual projects when I’ve not been in Government and haven’t seen the funding that they keep promising people.

"I’ve not seen whether that money is there or not but we do want to see investment in local areas and I’m pretty certain that Rosie, as the Labour MP for here, would be banging down the door of Rachel [Reeves, shadow chancellor] and Lou Haigh if she’s the transport secretary to ensure that investment, if the money is there and it’s been earmarked, is spent in this area.”