‘Positive signals’ call to minister
WEST Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper has challenged the transport secretary, Chris Grayling, to keep his pre-election promises to the people of West Lancashire, and challenged his disregard for transport links in West Lancashire.
Before the General Election earlier this year, Mr Grayling visited West Lancashire and declared that reinstatement of the Burscough Curves would be a “quick win”.
Following the announcement last week that rail lines closed or ripped up under the infamous Beeching Report in the 1960s would be reopened to improve the country’s transport links, the MP took the opportunity to seek the reassurance from the secretary of his commitment to transport in West Lancashire.
Ms Cooper asked in Parliament: “When will we get this quick win?” on the Burscough Curves, about funding for the electrification of rail in the area and funding for Skelmersdale railway station.
She claimed that Mr Grayling showed “incredible ignorance” in his response stating that the people of West Lancashire would be getting the benefit of the investment programme in the line from Manchester to Blackpool.
Ms Cooper said: “I was pleased when the Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling, visited West Lancashire in April this year and declared that reinstatement of the Burscough Curves would be a ‘quick win’ for the area.
“Eight months on and following more promising news about investment in rail travel, I took the opportunity to seek Mr Grayling’s reassurance on his promise.
“Unfortunately, he showed a complete disregard to residents of West Lancashire, by stating that residents here will benefit from the Manchester to Blackpool line.”
She added: “I will be writing to the Department for Transport to ask again: when will the funding come to our area as promised by the Transport Secretary, who seems to have forgotten both exactly where we are and the promises he made on his visit in April.
“I will continue to campaign and push for the Burscough Curves to be reopened and am working with all the relevant bodies to make progress.
“I have consistently said that a railway station in the heart of Skelmersdale will open up a world of economic and social opportunities for the town and its residents.’’
Ms Cooper reiterated that it was she who launched the campaign for a Skelmersdale railway station with local residents by collecting signatures for petitions in the shopping centre which demonstrated huge support.
She stressed she had repeatedly spoken in Parliament on the ‘‘desperate’’ need for a railway station in Skelmersdale, the reopening of Burscough curves and electrification.
‘‘I had hoped that when the Transport Secretary made his promise that he had listened and realised what transformation a railway station would bring to Skelmersdale, and that reopening the Burscough Curves would mean much easier and quicker journeys from Burscough; sadly it seems the only quick win he was interested in was the General Election seat, in which the Conservatives failed miserably.
“West Lancashire residents want to see urgent action and promises kept by the Transport Secretary, and I shall keep reminding him of his words.” WEST Lancashire councillors may ask community groups to take over playing fields, meeting rooms and community centres under a review drawn up by the borough.
The council’s corporate and environmental overview and scrutiny committee has recently agreed, as part of its work programme for 2017/18, to undertake a review, Community Involvement in Service Delivery.
Committee chairman Cllr Nikki Hennessy said: “The topic chosen is very relevant as councils try to find new and more efficient ways of delivering their services.
“Here in West Lancs we know through our parish councils and voluntary bodies how very resourceful community groups are.
“We already have many examples of community groups taking on community centres, playing fields and meeting rooms.
“The committee will look at opportunities to enable more communityled activities and management of local services to take place and at the end of the process, it is hoped, come up with some recommendations to assist community groups to take up those opportunities.”
The review is expected to take 10 months.
Committee members had asked the public to submit topics of interest for consideration in their 2017-18 work programme and will bring forward appropriate recommendations on other matters to cabinet and council.
For more about the work of the committee, visit www.westlancs.gov. uk/scrutiny.