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The Leader's Blog - December 2015

Hello and welcome to my December blog post.

I would like to begin this month’s blog with some more fantastic news for Warrington!

I'm delighted to announce the successful installation of electric train services between Liverpool and Warrington. 

There will be a launch event on Monday 14 December where I’ll join Northern Rail’s Managing Director and the Chair of Merseytravel to catch the first service to be operated by electric train from Liverpool back to Warrington Bank Quay. This will be the first full day of the new timetable featuring electric services between Liverpool and Warrington.

The electrification of lines will not only mean faster, quieter and more reliable journeys for residents, but it’s also vital in supporting our long-term, low carbon economic growth.

As part of the launch, I will be hosting a reception at the Town Hall for a number of guests from across the rail industry and will continue to push for improvements to rail lines and services to and from Warrington.

Following my recent work on the Government’s Northern Electrification Task Force I will continue to forcibly make the case for electrification of the Cheshire Lines rail route through Warrington (Liverpool to Manchester via Warrington Central) and also the line from Warrington to Chester and onwards into North Wales.

In other rail news, the Government has announced that part of Phase 2 of High Speed Rail will be brought forward with the line from Lichfield to Crewe being extended by 2027 - six years earlier than originally planned.

The Government also confirmed that stations should be provided at both Manchester Airport and Manchester Piccadilly.

The Government has recognised the large number of concerns raised about the Hoo Green to Bamfurlong section of the route in the public consultation.  It has stated that further work is required on this section and that a further announcement will not be made until Autumn 2016 (this also includes the planned depot at Golborne).

I will continue to make sure that Warrington’s position on this section of the route is made clear to HS2 Limited and the Government - and I will keep you informed of developments.

I am also happy to give an update on the construction of Warrington’s first University Technical College. Plans are still on schedule and you can now see the second ‘tower’ from the surrounding area.

I was delighted to welcome Lord Baker to the site on 17 November who commented that Warrington is way ahead of the field.

Employer engagement is stronger than ever and events ran in the last few months to attract even more employers have proved to be a huge success with Kawasaki Robotics and Rolls-Royce amongst the growing list of employers!

Two Vice Principals have recently been recruited and over 100 students are registered to start in September 2016. The Department of Education even stated that Warrington is way ahead in terms of student recruitment compared to any other UTC in the country. Great news! 

You might also have noticed, adjacent to the UTC, our brand new business incubator, The Base. The building was formally opened on 23 November; however, an official opening will take place on 21 January and The High Sheriff, Bill Holroyd, is scheduled to officially open the building.

There has been a good level of interest shown in terms of prospective tenants and negotiations are now in place with the building management company, Langtree.

After offering our support to the Syrian refugees in September, I am pleased to report that council officers and partner organisations continue to work closely to prepare for resettlement.

I currently chair the executive task group and we met earlier this month to receive an update on local preparations. We are still awaiting final details on the funding from Government but I have made it clear that the settlement on refugees must be fully funded by central Government.

Discussions continue with the Home Office and we have added information on our website which provides useful sites and frequently asked questions.

In my November blog, I updated you on the Cheshire and Warrington Devolution Bid. Since our bid was submitted, I have met with James Warton, Minister for the Northern Powerhouse, to discuss the Warrington New City section of the bid.

The Government has been focusing on devolution deals for the core cities and has recently announced further deals for Liverpool, Sheffield and the West Midlands.

The focus of the negotiation on our bid, so far, has been on economic growth and transportation. I will continue to negotiate into the New Year but it is still rather unclear what the outcome will be – I will be sure to update you in further blog posts.

The Northern Powerhouse is receiving increasing support from Government and agreed City Devolution Deals have focused on the Northern Powerhouse area.

Transport for the North has recently appointed a new Chair and Chief Executive - who will lead with local authorities and partners in the planning and delivery of new infrastructure to enable the ambitions of the Northern Powerhouse. I will continue to try to ensure Warrington does well out of the Northern Powerhouse and Transport for the North.

And finally, I’d like to wish a very Merry Christmas and a peaceful New Year to all residents and businesses on behalf of the council. I look forward to sharing more news with you in the New Year and I hope you enjoy the festive season!