What are George Galloway’s pledges for Rochdale?

George GallowayImage source, Phil Noble/Reuters

Image caption,

“I’m the MP for all Rochdalians,” George Galloway shouted from the winner’s podium

By Paul Burnell & Rachael Lazaro

BBC News

George Galloway has said his resounding Rochdale by-election win was “for Gaza”, after polling 12,335 votes, nearly 6,000 more than any other candidate.

But from the winner’s podium he also claimed to be an MP “for all Rochdalians” as he promised to “make Rochdale great again”.

The veteran campaigner, who takes his Commons seat for the Workers Party of Britain, took almost 40% of the vote in Rochdale.

So what is he promising to do locally?

Here are some of his priorities for the town.

Maternity services

The new MP promised to try to improve health services in a town with no Accident and Emergency (A&E) or maternity unit.

He said he wanted to “reopen maternity services and A&E at Rochdale Infirmary without delay”.

Image source, Google

Image caption,

Rochdale Infirmary has no A&E or maternity unit

Rochdale’s maternity unit was closed more than ten years ago, with expectant mothers going to Oldham to have their babies.

Rochdale Infirmary has an urgent care centre, which treats minor injury and illness, with patients directed to Fairfield Hospital in Bury for emergency care.

“No new Rochdalians will ever be born here unless I can get the A&E back,” Mr Galloway said.

Grooming gangs

Rochdale has become associated with child sexual exploitation and grooming – something that was an issue at the ballot box, with William Howarth standing as the Parents Against Grooming UK candidate.

Mr Galloway pledged to crack down on the issue which has blighted the town.

He said: “There will be no grooming gangs on my watch.”

His comments came a month after a damning report on the failure of Greater Manchester Police and Rochdale Council to deal with child sexual exploitation between 2004-13.

Image source, Phil Noble/Reuters

Image caption,

Rochdale has a proud history and was the birthplace of the Cooperative movement

Rochdale AFC

The decline of the town’s football club is a symbol of its wider decline along with the loss of essential services, Mr Galloway said.

Dale were relegated from the Football League after 102 years last season.

As voters went to the polls US firm World Soccer Holdings LLC signed a letter of intent to purchase National League Rochdale.

Chairman Simon Gauge said earlier this month that the football club could go bust if they did not find investment before the end of March.

Mr Galloway said he wanted to secure the football club’s future.

Primark

Rochdale town centre has had a makeover, with a new shopping centre, and its Grade I listed town hall is undergoing a multi-million pound restoration.

But the town is marred by deprivation, poor housing and crime.

The five floors of the Wheatsheaf Shopping Centre, which had stores like New Look, Wilko, and Ryman, never reopened after lockdown in the coronavirus pandemic.

Image source, Phil Noble/Reuters

Image caption,

Mr Galloway is pledging to reinvigorate the town with some big name stores

Boarded up shops are a common sight.

Mr Galloway has promised to “bring back big names to our town centre like Primark.”

He also pledged to “clean the town hall clock”.

Council change

Mr Galloway added a new domestic goal to his programme in his victory speech, promising a “grand alliance” with independents and others to sweep the mainstream parties out of the local council.

Praising local businessman Dave Tully, who came second as an independent, he said he hoped to work closely with him.

Mr Galloway, who has represented four cities and three parties in his political career, is not from Rochdale, but he said he would live there now he has been elected.

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