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Boris says Levelling Up is all about… Stoke Poges

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Locals from one of England’s most deprived areas blasted Boris Johnson today after he put the affluent village nearby at the heart of his ‘Levelling Up’ drive.

The PM had urged deprived areas to follow the example of Stoke Poges, in Buckinghamshire, which was lamented in the 18th Century by poet Thomas Gray as one of the country’s most deprived places and now among the richest.

Giving few new details about how his grand vision will work, Mr Johnson quoted Gray and highlighted how the village is now the eighth richest in England after it ‘levelled up’.

However, less than three miles away is the Slough ward of Britwell, which has one of the worst rates of child poverty in the country. It is also one of the most deprived areas in Slough.

One furious resident said on Twitter after Mr Johnson’s speech: ‘What about levelling up the Britwell estate, next to Stoke Poges then’.

The PM had urged deprived areas to follow the example of Stoke Poges, in Buckinghamshire.. Pictured: A general view of Stoke Park

The PM had urged deprived areas to follow the example of Stoke Poges, in Buckinghamshire.. Pictured: A general view of Stoke Park

The village was lamented in the 18th Century by poet Thomas Gray as one of the country's most deprived places and is now among the richest. Pictured: Stoke Place

The village was lamented in the 18th Century by poet Thomas Gray as one of the country’s most deprived places and is now among the richest. Pictured: Stoke Place

Giving few new details about how his grand vision will work, Mr Johnson quoted Gray and highlighted how the village is now the eighth richest in England after it ‘levelled up’

Giving few new details about how his grand vision will work, Mr Johnson quoted Gray and highlighted how the village is now the eighth richest in England after it ‘levelled up’

Mr Johnson referred in his speech to Gray’s famous poem, ‘Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard’, which is believed to reference Stoke Poges. Pictured: Magnolia Trees In Bloom At The Stoke Poges Memorial Gardens In Buckinghamshire

Mr Johnson referred in his speech to Gray’s famous poem, ‘Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard’, which is believed to reference Stoke Poges. Pictured: Magnolia Trees In Bloom At The Stoke Poges Memorial Gardens In Buckinghamshire

However, less than three miles away is the Slough ward of Britwell. Pictured: Wentworth Avenue in Britwell

However, less than three miles away is the Slough ward of Britwell. Pictured: Wentworth Avenue in Britwell

It has one of the worst rates of child poverty in the country. It is also one of the most deprived areas in Slough

It has one of the worst rates of child poverty in the country. It is also one of the most deprived areas in Slough

One furious resident said on Twitter after Mr Johnson's (pictured) speech: 'What about levelling up the Britwell estate, next to Stoke Poges then'.

One furious resident said on Twitter after Mr Johnson’s (pictured) speech: ‘What about levelling up the Britwell estate, next to Stoke Poges then’.

Other Britwell residents told MailOnline Britwell is a ‘bad area for crime’ and ‘needs levelling up as well’.

Mr Johnson referred in his speech to Gray’s famous poem, ‘Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard’, which is believed to reference Stoke Poges.

A monument to Gray, who published his poem in 1751, now stands in the churchyard at St Giles’ Church in the village.

The PM said: ‘When Thomas Gray stood in that country churchyard in 1750 and wrote his famous elegy as the curfew tolled the knell of parting day, he lamented the wasted talents of those buried around him, the flowers born to blush unseen, the mute inglorious miltons who never wrote a poem because they never got to read.

‘The simple folk who died illiterate and innumerate and he knew that it was an injustice. Let me ask you, maybe you know, where was he standing when he chewed his pensive quill? Anybody know?

‘Correct, thank you, he was standing in Stoke Poges. My friends there may be underprivileged parts of this country but Stoke Poges is not now among them.’

He went on: ‘Since Gray elegised, Buckinghamshire has levelled up to be among the most productive regions in the whole of Europe.

‘Stoke Poges may still of course have its problems but they are the overwhelmingly caused the sheer lust of other people to live in or near Stoke Poges – overcrowded trains, endless commutes, too little time with the kids.

‘The constant anxiety that your immemorial view of chalk downland is going to be desecrated by ugly new homes.

‘And that is why levelling up works for the whole country and is the right and responsible policy, because it helps to take the pressure off parts of the overheating South East while simultaneously offering hope and opportunity to those areas that have felt left behind,’ he added.

However, residents were quick to point out how nearby Britwell needs ‘levelling up’.

Julie Taylor, 52, said : ‘This area could do with an uplift. There are problems with kids, drugs . Petty crimes.

Julie Taylor (pictured), 52, said : 'This area could do with an uplift. There are problems with kids, drugs . Petty crimes.'

Another Britwell resident, Barnabas Githere (pictured), 38, added: 'We need investment. 'I would say so. It is not too bad for crime, but it is not good. We have young people on bikes smoking weed.'

Julie Taylor (pictured left), 52, said : ‘This area could do with an uplift. There are problems with kids, drugs . Petty crimes.’ Another Britwell resident, Barnabas Githere (pictured right), 38, added: ‘We need investment. ‘I would say so. It is not too bad for crime, but it is not good. We have young people on bikes smoking weed.’

Samantha Torr, 32, said: ‘It can be a bad area for crime. Housing is ridiculous. ‘A friend of mine is paying £1300 a month rent for a three bed house to rent it. It is ridiculous. This area needs levelling up as well’

‘Houses are difficult. I think all MPs are total a*******s. They promise this and promise that and don’t do anything about it.’

Samantha Torr, 32, said: ‘It can be a bad area for crime. Housing is ridiculous.

‘A friend of mine is paying £1300 a month rent for a three bed house to rent it. It is ridiculous. This area needs levelling up as well.’

Another Britwell resident, Barnabas Githere, 38, added: ‘We need investment.

‘I would say so. It is not too bad for crime, but it is not good. We have young people on bikes smoking weed.’

By contrast, people living in Stoke Poges were full of praise for the village.

Dave Hunt, 49, from Stoke Poges said: 'The south east is very prosperous. Levelling up is a good idea, but let's see if he can do it. 'Stoke Poges is a rural idyll. It is close to London and protected by the green belt.

Dave Hunt, 49, from Stoke Poges said: ‘The south east is very prosperous. Levelling up is a good idea, but let’s see if he can do it. ‘Stoke Poges is a rural idyll. It is close to London and protected by the green belt.

Dave Hunt, 49, said: ‘The south east is very prosperous. Levelling up is a good idea, but let’s see if he can do it.

‘Stoke Poges is a rural idyll. It is close to London and protected by the green belt.

‘It is an expensive place to live – a 3-bedroom semi costs half a million and big detached houses go for two to three million.’

Richard Townsend, 70, said: ‘The idea of levelling up is necessary. There is no doubt in my mind. However I would like to see some action.

‘Why don’t they just move two or three whole government departments to Stockton on Tees and Middlesborough. Those places are far more deprived than Stoke Poges will ever be.

‘There is no real crime problem in the Stoke Poges area, but house prices are a problem. We have two daughters who are thirtyish. Neither of them could afford to live around here.

‘One has moved to High Wycombe and the other to Kent. In 1970 they would have been able to afford it here. There has got to be action and delivery.’

Mr Johnson told Tory members that ‘wages are going up faster than when the pandemic began’ as he insisted his Government is overseeing a ‘change in direction’ on the UK economy ‘that has been long overdue’.

He blasted past ‘uncontrolled immigration’ and said that he wants to shift to a high wage, high skill economy.

Richard Townsend, 70, said: 'The idea of levelling up is necessary. There is no doubt in my mind. However I would like to see some action.'

Richard Townsend, 70, said: ‘The idea of levelling up is necessary. There is no doubt in my mind. However I would like to see some action.’

Mr Johnson referred in his speech to Gray's famous poem, 'Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard', which is believed to reference Stoke Poges

A monument to Gray, who published his poem in 1751, now stands in the churchyard at St Giles' Church in the village

Mr Johnson referred in his speech to Gray’s (pictured right) famous poem, ‘Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard’, which is believed to reference Stoke Poges. A monument (pictured left) to Gray, who published his poem in 1751, now stands in the churchyard at St Giles’ Church in the village.

The PM said: 'When Thomas Gray (pictured a National Trust map referencing Grey)stood in that country churchyard in 1750 and wrote his famous elegy as the curfew tolled the knell of parting day, he lamented the wasted talents of those buried around him, the flowers born to blush unseen, the mute inglorious miltons who never wrote a poem because they never got to read.'

The PM said: ‘When Thomas Gray (pictured a National Trust map referencing Grey)stood in that country churchyard in 1750 and wrote his famous elegy as the curfew tolled the knell of parting day, he lamented the wasted talents of those buried around him, the flowers born to blush unseen, the mute inglorious miltons who never wrote a poem because they never got to read.’

He went on: 'Since Gray elegised, Buckinghamshire has levelled up to be among the most productive regions in the whole of Europe.' Pictured: St Giles Church in Stoke Poges

He went on: ‘Since Gray elegised, Buckinghamshire has levelled up to be among the most productive regions in the whole of Europe.’ Pictured: St Giles Church in Stoke Poges

He attacked businesses who have called for more visas for foreign workers to ease staff shortages as he said the solution to pressures is ‘not to reach for that same old lever of uncontrolled immigration’ which he said keeps wages low.

Mr Johnson said it will ‘take time’ to shift to his vision of a ‘high wage, high skilled, high productivity’ economy.

He admitted ‘it will be difficult’ along the way ‘but that is the change people voted for in 2016’ at the Brexit referendum.

Mr Johnson said in some areas the UK is one of the most imbalanced developed nations as he pointed to regional discrepancies on metrics like life expectancy.

He said those differences amounted to an ‘appalling waste of potential’ and insisted there is no reason why people should be ‘geographically fated’ to be poorer or less healthy than their counterparts elsewhere in the UK.

Addressing the Tory conference, Mr Johnson gave few new details about how his grand vision will work beyond higher wages, higher skills and lower immigration

Addressing the Tory conference, Mr Johnson gave few new details about how his grand vision will work beyond higher wages, higher skills and lower immigration

Mr Johnson said his ‘levelling up’ agenda was the ‘right and responsible policy’ to deal with those issues.

Helping ‘left behind’ areas would also help to reduce pressure on the ‘overheating’ south east of England, he said.

The Prime Minister said that his Government will ‘promote opportunity with every tool we have’.

The single policy announcement contained in the speech related to ‘levelling up’ as the PM announced a new ‘levelling up premium’.

It will see high-flying maths and science teachers offered a grant of up to £3,000 to work in areas of the country which need them the most. 

Mr Johnson said his ‘levelling up’ agenda was the ‘right and responsible policy’ to deal with those issues.

Helping ‘left behind’ areas would also help to reduce pressure on the ‘overheating’ south east of England, he said.

The Prime Minister said that his Government will ‘promote opportunity with every tool we have’.

The single policy announcement contained in the speech related to ‘levelling up’ as the PM announced a new ‘levelling up premium’.

It will see high-flying maths and science teachers offered a grant of up to £3,000 to work in areas of the country which need them the most.



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