Manch­ester link ‘cru­cial’, says MP

Rossendale Free Press - - News -

ROSSENDALE MP Jake Berry de­scribed re­con­nect­ing Rossendale and Manch­ester as ‘cru­cial’.

He said: “I re­gard this link as cru­cial not just for Rossendale but to the whole devel­op­ment of the North­ern Pow­er­house.”

Trans­port for the North is also of­fi­cially con­sid­er­ing the plans, and Mr Berry said: “This is the value of hav­ing the study done.

“The next big chal­lenge is about get­ting Manch­ester Mayor Andy Burn­ham to pri­ori­tise it and re­alise the sig­nif­i­cant growth it could bring to Manch­ester. Look at the eco­nomic growth in Rossendale since 2011, un­em­ploy­ment has been halved and more busi­nesses than ever are set­ting up.

“My con­cern is that un­less we solve many of the trans­port prob­lems fac­ing the Val­ley, it is go­ing to stop fur­ther eco­nomic growth.

“This is not just about peo­ple go­ing to Manch­ester to work from Rossendale but about Rossendale be­ing able to ac­cess the skills of peo­ple from Manch­ester.”

Stephen Young, Lan­cashire County Coun­cil’s ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of trans­port, said: “The County Coun­cil is com­mit­ted to trans­form­ing trans­porta­tion links par­tic­u­larly in Rossendale which is the only district in Lan­cashire with­out a sta­tion on the na­tional rail net­work.

“We see this as es­sen­tial in fur­ther driv­ing our col­lec­tive eco­nomic as­pi­ra­tions and are fully sup­port­ive of this pro­posal and study.”

The plans have also been sup­ported by East Lan­cashire Cham­ber of Com­merce.

Chief ex­ec­u­tive Mi­randa Barker said: “We are re­ally good at man­u­fac­tur­ing in this area, but then when it comes to trans­porta­tion it is ex­pen­sive and slow.”

She sup­ported a heavy rail link, rather than a tram, be­cause she said it would pro­vide skilled work­ers with the means of travel to Rossendale while also pro­vid­ing po­ten­tial to as­sist the move­ment of goods both in and out.

Eden coun­cil­lor Jan­ice John­son, a mem­ber of the East Lan­cashire Rail­way Trust Board, has also backed the plan.

She said: “A com­muter rail link would be marvel­lous. We need pub­lic trans­port up­grad­ing, not just for now but for fu­ture gen­er­a­tions and we have to think out­side the box.

“I re­mem­ber my son-in-law com­ing home to Rossendale from work in Wythen­shawe and he had seen eight ac­ci­dents that day en route. As a re­sult he moved out of Rossendale for work.”

How­ever, Mike Kelly, chair­man of East Lan­cashire Rail­way, said: “I haven’t seen the re­port yet or its con­tents, so I’m not in a po­si­tion to com­ment.”

Rossendale MP Jake Berry (left) with Manch­ester Mayor Andy Burn­ham

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