James was selected to speak virtually in a debate in the House of Commons on the Towns Fund on Thursday to talk about King's Lynn's bid.
Unfortunately, time ran out just before he was due to speak but as he was ready to deliver the speech, he has recorded it and will send to the minister.
Text of James' speech:
"This is a welcome opportunity to focus on the government’s ambitious agenda to level up across our country and King’s Lynn was selected as part of the Towns Fund as one of the high priority areas
The town is at the heart of my constituency with a strong maritime heritage dating from the 13th century, when it was one of England’s major trading ports.
It has more Grade One listed buildings than York – and I recommend a stroll along King Street which Sir John Betjeman called “one of the finest walks in England.”
Today, King’s Lynn’s economy has a strong advanced manufacturing and engineering base, along with a successful SME sector.
It is a place where there is space for firms to grow and to take advantage of the residential and commercial offer.
But people make places - and residents are rightly passionate about Lynn and we have a committed, engaged, and creative community.
However, there are also challenges:
Progression from school needs to improve - with more people moving into full time education post-16.
Skills levels are lower than average meaning that young people miss out on opportunities, earnings are below the regional and national average, and companies find it hard to recruit.
Second, different parts of the town are poorly connecting which leads to congestion and poor air quality.
Third, the historic riverfront is underused and the high street faces the challenge of vacant units and footfall.
After the very disappointing decision on our Future High Streets Bid, the Towns Fund gives us the welcome opportunity to address these issues and support growth and attract investment.
The minister will see the bid we have submitted delivers this by focusing on skills and jobs; regeneration; and improving connectivity.
A Youth and Retraining Pledge will provide new opportunities for skills and support those affected by Covid-19 to reskill.
Planning is also well underway on the new School of Nursing which I’m delighted has already been approved as part of the accelerated funding. This will provide higher level skills training in partnership with the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
Regeneration projects will make the most of our historic riverfront including a new outdoor public realm and improvements to the town centre.
It builds on our manufacturing, engineering, and health sector strengths by supporting growing businesses with a new Innovation and Collaboration Incubator;
And take advantage of King’s Lynn’s strong creative and cultural tradition with a new hub for creative businesses to collaborate and grow.
Finally, our proposals will deliver a sustainably connected town with better walking and cycling routes, tackling the congestion, and improving air quality.
This plan reflects strong local engagement, importantly including the views of young people.
I’m pleased to have helped develop this bid as a member of the Towns Fund Board - ably chaired by Graham Perkins of Merxin one of our innovative businesses – with great input from members from across the voluntary, public, and private sectors as well as councillors.
It is a vision that builds on King’s Lynn proud history and strengths to make it an even better place to live, work, and visit with a strong future."