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Leaders Blog - October 2018

Train services certainly went off the rails over the summer, didn’t they? Well, it’s time to get them back on track.

Warrington, like most places across the north of England, was badly affected by the performance (or lack of!) from Northern and Trans Pennine. Through the Transport for the North partnership I’ve been playing an active role in holding them to account for the chaos they have caused and the effect on local commuters. An independent inquiry is now underway to determine the causes of what happened and to identify the steps that need to be taken to prevent a repeat.

At Transport for the North we are holding the railway companies to account and pushing for more investment at Bank Quay station. I want to make sure that Warrington is part of a better-connected region, with fast, frequent and reliable transport links that drive our economy forward and bring jobs to our borough.

That’s not to say our local economy isn’t doing well. In fact, Warrington was recently named as the most attractive town in the north-west for commercial property investors and the only location in the north of England to be ranked in the top 10.

But we have to do more to make sure that more people get to share the benefits of our economic success. Work begins this week in developing and delivering a ‘masterplan’ for central Warrington – a plan that will give people who live in central Warrington more access to the economic opportunities that already exist in our borough, plus those opportunities that will be created on right on their doorsteps in years to come through the major developments taking place in our town centre.

The masterplan process is being driven by the multi-agency Central Neighbourhood Area Renewal Team and throughout its development, starting from the very beginning, local residents will have the chance to feed in ideas, review proposals and get involved with the projects that matter to them.

Some of the best ideas and the most creative solutions will come from local people living within a mile or two of the town centre. Warrington has been synonymous with entrepreneurship since the time of Thomas Dallam and maybe through the masterplan process we’ll discover a few more?

Speaking of entrepreneurs, last month another name was added to the list: Rob Leicester. Rob runs a fruit and veg stall on Warrington Market and has just been named ‘Young Market Trader of the Year’. A tremendous achievement. 

September was a momentous month for Rob and for the market too, which is celebrating one year in its temporary home while nearby the steely skeleton of a permanent new home rises from the foundations of the old.

Away from all the developments, inside Golden Square towards the escalators, you may have noticed two bronze ‘peace’ sculptures. They’re the culmination of five year’s work behind the scenes led by my council colleague Mike Hannon and are intended to represent the road travelled towards peace and reconciliation since the Warrington bombings. Hopefully many people will take time out of their busy lives to pause and reflect when they see the installation, which was inspired by local schoolchildren and created by local artist Andy Shaw.

The last word must go to Warrington Wolves. We didn’t top the Super League table, but we did topple the leaders to book a place in this Saturday’s Grand Final. It was a fantastic effort by the players and I’m backing Steve Price’s boys to do us all proud at Old Trafford.

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