In a speech to the House of Commons on Monday, regarding the potential formation of a European Super League and its impact on football clubs throughout the country, the Culture Secretary stated, “I believe passionately in defending our nation’s institutions and rich heritage. They are central to our identity and help build a sense of solidarity between people from every generation and every background.”
Whilst I agree wholeheartedly with this sentiment, it seems to me that this principle should apply just as much to Bury FC and football within this town as it does to the so-called big 6 clubs. The 18th April 1903 was a cold dry day and 63,102 people gathered to see Bury FC beat Derby County 6 – 0 in the FA Cup Final. A record winning margin only equalled by Manchester City in 2019. The names of the players who played that day may now long be forgotten by many but goal scorers Joe Leeming, George Ross, Charlie Sagar, Willie Wood and Jack Plant are as much part of our heritage in Bury as the modern teams in the Premier League.
Towns like Bury have their own histories, which are not simply defined by larger cities or institutions and politicians should be doing everything possible to protect these links with our collective pasts.
Levelling Up is a word much used by politicians and means different things to different people but in government policy, it is currently encapsulated in several funding pots that local authorities can bid for to support “levelling up in their areas.” The Levelling Up Fund allows Bury Council to submit 2 bids up to £20 million each for both Borough’s parliamentary constituencies. A bid for £20 million will be made for Bury South but, at the time of writing, the Council are only requesting £10 million to support the regeneration of Bury Market.
I’ve worked constructively with the Council and I am thankful for their efforts but this is a real missed opportunity and I’m extremely disappointed that we will not see a Bury North bid that requests the full £20 million which could ensure Gigg Lane is saved and the site utilised for the whole community. The Council should support a vision for the site that houses skills training, the creation of a Special Educational Needs Hub and an upgrade to the stadium itself to ensure our town has a facility to hold a variety of cultural and sporting events. In my view the possibilities to level up from this investment are limitless and, even if unsuccessful, we should try to access these funds.
The events of this week have highlighted how important our shared heritage is and the determination of politicians and the community to protect institutions that link successive generations. As politicians in Bury, we must be ambitious and bold in delivering a wide-ranging levelling up agenda that benefits all our residents but to do this we have to take advantage of every funding opportunity open to us.