Robert Jenrick defends his Newark constituency's inclusion on Towns Fund investment list
Newark MP Robert Jenrick has defended the inclusion of Newark in the government's Town Fund initiative.
Mr Jenrick, as Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, announced before last year's General Election that Newark had been included on the list of towns to receive up to £25m in government funding.
However, he has faced criticism over claims that his constituency had been included on the list ahead of other more deprived areas.
Speaking on the BBC's The Andrew Marr Show this morning, Mr Jenrick said another minister in the department — Jake Berry — had made the decision to include Newark. He took the decision to include Mr Berry's constituency on the list.
But Mr Jenrick said a robust and fair methodology had been put in place before he became Secretary of State, and included a number of factors, not just deprivation, and the towns were chosen on the advise of civil servants.
"There was a broad range of places, like markets towns, such as the one I represent, ex-agricultural, coastal towns, and ex-mining and coalfield communities," he said.
Mr Jenrick said ministers did not make decisions about their own constituencies but "neither should their constituencies be victims of the fact that they have an MP as a minister."
He said: "MPs should support projects in their own constituencies because we are constituency MPs. It would be quite wrong if we weren't able to support our own constituency to get a school, a hospital, or get investment for deprived communities."
Mr Jenrick accused the affair of being a distraction by the Labour Party because the Conservatives were delivered on their manifesto promise to invest in places they neglected for too long.
The Newark Towns Fund bid, led by Newark and Sherwood District Council, includes the creation ofthe first international air and space training institute, the launch of a construction college, development of the former Marks and Spencer building, and the creation of a Smart Innovation, Supply Chain and Logistics Enterprise Zone.