The 72nd Bishop of Lincoln Christopher Lowson chose to highlight economic challenges in rural, Brexit-voting Lincolnshire communities and to welcome increased spending on public services in his maiden speech at the House of Lords.
Lord Christopher Lowson, who was introduced into the House of Lords in September 2017, outlined his wish to be a voice for Greater Lincolnshire in his speech on Thursday, March 15.
He explained how his “working’class roots”, growing up in the former steel town of Consett, and priesthood career spanning the country, prepared him for his Lincolnshire role and engagement with issues like “poverty, inequality and low educations attainment”.
Bishop Lowson, who was made Bishop of Lincoln just over six years ago, responded to the Cancellor of the Exchequer’s Spring Statement in parliament on Tuesday.
“There is much to welcome in what was announced. The light at the end of the tunnel, the modest improvement in economic forecasts and the prospect of an increase in spending on and investment in public services will be good news to the people of Lincolnshire, especially if what is devoted to Lincolnshire addresses the challenge we face.”
He added Lincolnshire residents were ‘prisoners of geography’.
“Size does matter. And in Lincolnshire this is expressed in challenges faced by the health and education services. Not to mention the threat climate change poses to Lincolnshire
“But Lincolnshire is not all rural or flat fens – there are communities like Grimsby, Scunthorpe, Lincoln and Boston and, in those areas that voted heavily in favour of Brexit, there are the usual challenges of urban life and there are more to come when the full impact of welfare reform is experienced.
“Unless economic policy is directed as much towards the interests of these communities, as it is to the more prosperous corners of our country, we will be failing in our duty to create a fairer and more integrated society, where none feel ‘left behind’.
“Already I see in those communities a sense of alienation from the metropolitan elite.”
His comments came the day before more than 150 delegates met in Lincoln to here how city leaders plan to reduce inequality and enhance economic growth.
More on The Lincoln Growth Conference on The Lincolnite later today.