Bostin’ Bob’s been pulled up on his ‘roots’ in launching Town of the Year.
The People’s Housing Secretary Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP failed to see the Wolverhampton he claims as his hometown as the city it has been for 19 years.
This, when he was, as the MHCLG press release put it: “Kicking off his countrywide town tour in Wolverhampton.”
Yet, Jenrick acknowledged Wolverhampton as a city when visiting just a year ago, only to say in a separate interview that the Wolverhampton he’d known for some 40 years was a “town very close to my heart”.
As ‘ockered’ as it is ‘yampy’ as Bostin’ Bob might purport to say.
The CITY’S civic leaders wasted no time stirring the ‘barmpot’.
Claire Darke, the Mayor of Wolverhampton, said: “We have been a city for 19 years and they need to catch up. Are they that out of touch that they did not bother to look it up?
“My concern would be that this competition is politically motivated and that they are doing it because there is a tough fight next year to vote for regional mayor for the West Midlands and they are trying to attract support.”
Pat McFadden, the MP for Wolverhampton South East, said: “The Tories have made big promises to invest more in local communities, but it’s not a great start if ministers don’t even know that Wolverhampton is a city not a town.”
Labour pounced on Jenrick’s Black Country pretensions as proof that Tories are playing lip service to the West Midlands and to the UK’s neglected towns in seeking to consolidate general election gains.
The summation of Shadow Housing Secretary John Healey was succinct: “You couldn’t make it up.”
To compound the error, an MHCLG spokesperson reported said Jenrick had toured Wolverhampton’s “town centre”.
Jenrick was born and educated in Wolverhampton, but ‘home’ was near Ludlow, Shropshire.
He was 18 when Wolverhampton became a city after a decade-long campaign.
The competition for English towns was announced on Wednesday, with the aim to “celebrate towns’ achievements”, including in areas such as entrepreneurship, technology, community, enterprise, and integration.
A press release said: “Kicking off his countrywide town tour in Wolverhampton, communities secretary Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP said: ‘People have put their trust in this new government, and we’re making an immediate start to serve local communities and deliver real change, through our £3.6bn Towns Fund.’”
Approached for further comments, an MHCLG spokesperson is reported to have said: “Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP was on an embargoed visit to Wolverhampton today where he made a tour of the town centre.”
On a – presumably unembargoed – visit a year ago, Bostin’ Bob acknowledged Wolverhampton as a city, saying: “I think Wolverhampton is an example of where government can work to improve the city centre to help it evolve, as consumer habits are changing.
“There are a lot more opportunities to get more homes and workspaces into a city centre like this and give it new life and help the city centre to thrive in the future.”
But in a separate visit he again called Wolverhampton a town, saying: “Wolverhampton is a town I’ve known for almost 40 years. It’s very close to my heart.”
Bostin’ Bob is tipped for higher office in the February reshuffle.