Week Ahead: 'Levelling up' the Rother Valley, York's Dante meeting and Eid al-Fitr

A ‘levelling up’ debate in Parliament, racing restart in Yorkshire, poignant milestone for the McCanns and celebrations for Eid al-Fitr. John Blow looks at the week ahead.

Rother Valley MP Alexander Stafford.

Levelling up

Rother Valley MP Alexander Stafford will lead a Parliamentary session in the coming week on so-called “levelling up” in South Yorkshire.

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The adjournment debate will focus on a Levelling Up Fund and the regeneration of high streets in Conservative Mr Stafford’s constituency.

Worshippers share food following the 2018 Eid-al Fitr prayer, which marks the end of Ramadan, at Leeds Grand Mosque (Photo: PA).

It comes after Downing Street said that Boris Johnson had appointed another backbench Tory MP to act as his adviser on delivering the“levelling up” agenda,.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said Neil O’Brien, the MP for Harborough who is originally from West Yorkshire, would be working with government departments on developing policies for a forthcoming white paper.

“His role is going to be to work alongside departments to develop the policies that sit within that, the bold policy interventions which are going to help improve opportunity and boost livelihoods across the country,” the spokesman said.

No 10 also said the new white paper would replace the delayed devolution white paper which had been expected last year.

But asked how the Government would measure success of the agenda first set out in December 2019, the PM’s spokesman said: “I think it’s a bit early. When we set out the white paper I will have exact policies that [we] are working towards and obviously as ever, the public will be able to make judgments on success.”

Dante opener

For the second consecutive year, York’s season-opening Dante meeting will take place from Wednesday to Friday without crowds on the Knavesmire.

Yet, while spectators will, COVID permitting, be present for subsequent meetings this summer, ITV4 coverage will offer a chance to spotlight potential Derby winners - and the great city of York.

It will also be Bridget Guerin’s first meeting as the racecourse’s chairman, succeeding the ever popular Teddy Grimthorpe. Her first ever summer job was behind a Tote betting window at the course that she is now proud to oversee.

Madeleine milestone

Madeleine McCann, who went missing in Portugal in 2007, would be 18 years old on Wednesday.

The child was nearly four when she disappeared from her family’s holiday apartment in Praia da Luz in Portugal’s Algarve on May 3, 2007 as her parents dined at a tapas restaurant with friends nearby.

Kate and Gerry McCann posted recently a statement on the Official Find Madeleine Campaign website to say the poignant milestone and the global pandemic have made this year even harder for the family.

Part of her parents’ statement said: “Every May is tough – a reminder of years passed, of years together lost, or stolen.

“This year it is particularly poignant as we should be celebrating Madeleine’s 18th birthday. Enough said.

“The Covid pandemic has made this year even more difficult for many reasons but thankfully the investigation to find Madeleine and her abductor has continued.”

End of fast

The Eid al-Fitr holiday will be celebrated by Muslims worldwide from Wednesday to mark the end of the month-long dawn-to-sunset fasting of Ramadan.

It begins on the evening of May 12 and ends on the evening of May 13.

More than 326,000 Muslims live in Yorkshire - 62 per cent of the region’s overall population - meaning many will be celebrating with feasts and family gatherings.