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Leader's Blog - June 2018

As any rail commuters will know – there have been serious and avoidable problems with Northern Rail services.

I am on the board of Transport for the North and we have been very vocal in our criticism of the huge disruption caused to travellers.  There are still too many delays, cancellations and overcrowded trains.

We have called for a compensation package for those affected. This should certainly include season ticket holders. The board also recognised and discussed the losses suffered by passengers and businesses.

Northern Rail, Network Rail and central government need to take immediate steps to solve this problem that is affecting people’s lives and damaging local businesses.

In lighter transport news I was pleased to note that our Transport for Warrington team has won a prestigious award for its cycle training programme for children.

The council has been named “Local Authority of the Year” at the first Bikeability Awards launched by the Bikeability Trust.

To win the category of Local Authority of the Year in the inaugural awards programme is a fantastic achievement. Cycling has a positive impact on the wellbeing of young people and learning to do so safely gives them a life-skill and confidence to continue into later years.

Warrington continues to grow fast and it was good to see Cineworld finalising their deal to move into the new Time Square development.Cineworld, Europe’s second-largest cinema business, will operate a facility with 2,500 seats across 13 screens, including a Superscreen and is set to open in 2020. It certainly looks impressive in the Warrington skyline already and there is so much more to be done.

Along with the major infrastructure projects across the borough we also have schemes to rejuvenate deprived areas like the Bewsey and Dallam ‘Grey 2 Green’ project. Phase 1 of the project was completed in April last year, with improvements – including the introduction of enhanced public realm, tree planting, new cycle priorities and renewed parking facilities – made in key locations on Longshaw Street, Lodge Lane, Higham Avenue and Dalton Avenue.

The £1.2m Phase 2 improvements will be focused around Longshaw Street, from Dallam Brook to the junction of Hawley’s Lane; and Hawley’s Lane, from the junction with Boulting Avenue to the railway bridge.

Behind the scenes officers at the council have recovered more than £250,000 of taxpayers' money thanks to a new counter fraud strategy. The latest figures show we recovered more than £250,000 in fraud, error and debt money over the past year. It is a 70 per cent increase on 2016-17. Because of the depth of the central government cuts we have had to find many innovative ways of saving and generating income but this area is also vital to make sure everyone pays their fair share.

Last but not least it was a fantastic performance from Warrington to very comfortably beat a good Wigan side in the Challenge Cup Quarter Final. To ‘nil’ old rivals and put on such an impressive show was great to see and now we have a semi-final to look forward to!