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Saturday 4 July 2009

Station – No More Sellout?

Previously, I covered the sorry story of how Crewe nearly lost its railway station, as a result of Network Rail (NR) opportunism and the inexcusable fence-sitting of the local MP (the whole of the “Station Sellout” series of posts can be read by filtering on “Crewe and Nantwich”). NR have since been forced to desist from any idea of moving the station, but updating both buildings and facilities has remained urgent.

Fortunately, some lobbying has been taking place in the meantime, aimed at getting NR – and any other interested parties – to revisit the original Crewe Gateway scheme, which would have revamped the station on its current site, together with a new concourse and car park. This has built on the work done by campaigning group CREAM. Councillor Roy Cartlidge, who did so much to get the CREAM campaign into the local media, has got Labour PPC David Williams on board, and they have lobbied Transport Minister Andrew Adonis.

And there’s the rub: yes, this looks on the face of it to be a totally Labour Party effort, but as Tory MP Edward Timpson (the man with marginally more charisma than a Burton’s dummy) either cannot, or will not, bring himself to get on board, and the Lib Dems aren’t showing any visibility on the issue (Corporal Clegg take note – you keep on like this, you’ll keep coming third in Crewe and Nantwich), there is no other major party contribution in sight.

But, and as is customary, this is a big but, the Gateway scheme is not yet on the starting blocks. The Government has confirmed that this is a “regional priority for investment”, but that is merely the start of the really hard work. A business case must now be worked up and presented, and the commitment of the new East Cheshire Council is also key. This last has a sizeable Tory majority, and hence they are of the same stripe as the local MP: as this scheme would being new jobs to the area, it might be thought that his fellow Tories would come to Timpson’s aid.

Unless, of course, they’ve concluded he’ll lose next year. Another one to watch.

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