‘Pos­i­tive sig­nals’ call to min­is­ter

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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.

Rosie Cooper MP

Chris Grayling MP

Cllr Nikki Hen­nessy

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