‘Future of Stevenage hinges on crucial EU decision’ – Council leader has fingers crossed for a Remain victory in referendum
- Credit: Archant
With just a fortnight to go before the referendum on whether Britain should remain in the EU, councillors and political activists in Stevenage have been taking to the streets to hammer home their key messages on both sides of the debate.
The town’s Labour and Liberal Democrat parties have largely aligned with the ‘remain’ campaign while opinion in the Conservative Party is divided with some opting to support ‘vote leave’ activists.
Stevenage Borough Council leader Sharon Taylor, who is backing the Labour In For Britain campaign, is telling voters in no uncertain terms the future prosperity of the town depends on them voting to remain on Thursday, June 23.
She says the ‘uncertainty’ brought about by leaving the EU could cause another economic recession which would threaten plans being developed by the Stevenage First Partnership to secure £1 billion in private investment to rejuvenate the town centre.
She told the Comet: “We’ve got so many major international companies here in Stevenage and the prosperity of the town is dependent on them.
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“I’m not saying they’re going to move out tomorrow but when they come to make these big locational decisions in the future, whether or not Britain is in the EU could be a big factor.
“We can’t tell what things are going to look like if we come out of Europe, but we can’t guarantee we will be able to continue with our plans. Staying in is our best chance of guaranteeing our prosperity.”
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Mrs Taylor said the Tories have suffered from a ‘terrible divide’ on the issue both locally and nationally.
But Stevenage Conservative Association member Matthew Clarke said that while members of the party are campaigning on different sides, it is not causing the party to be disunited on other issues.
He said: “Many people in the Stevenage Conservative Association do support the ‘out’ side, there’s no doubt about that, but they are all intelligent people and it’s up to them to make up their own mind about it.
“The party functioned well here during the recent council elections and that is reflected in the results we got regardless of what opinions people have.”
Stevenage MP Stephen McPartland declared his support for the ‘leave’ campaign almost from the outset.
He has stated remaining in the EU means Britain cannot control immigration or its welfare system effectively or stop ‘NHS tourism’.
For information on voting times and the location of polling stations visit www.stevenage.gov.uk.