I WAS walking towards Balls Road on Saturday when approached by a resident coming out of one of the coffee shops towards the top end of Slatey Road.
She asked what I was going to do to reverse the decline that is sadly so apparent around the Balls Road area.
It was a very effective exchange. My constituent cared passionately about an area of Birkenhead in which she had lived practically the whole of her life. There was no hiding her raw emotion.
I did not have an immediate answer. But her question – what are you going to do? – raised huge questions in my mind about the role of an MP.
I spend much of my waking hours trying to improve on my effectiveness as an MP, particularly with regards to improving the lives of my constituents. And yet I was clearly failing in the view of at least this one constituent.
The defence I could have given would have cut no ice. The powers MPs have are limited. Maybe there was a time when MPs could affect the level of income in an area – but government is in retreat.
Local authorities are similarly handicapped. Even if we knew the right local levers, our own authority is having its total budget cut by a third by the Coalition Government. It will be able to do even less in the future.
So how can we regenerate areas? Are there small actions that to will trigger bigger developments? What do you think?