Welcome to this week's newsletter.
The Prime Minister took the decision this week to cancel the Birmingham to Manchester leg of HS2 - which would have called at Crewe. While I know not everyone supported HS2, I am disappointed by this announcement. Delivering the full route would have placed Crewe at the heart of the new network and I think it would have been transformative for our local economy bringing jobs, investment and opportunities. I respect that the Prime Minister is doing what he thinks is right and you will have seen many MPs now getting funding for their areas welcoming it. I understand why the fate of on town can't be the only factor a Prime Minister takes into account with a decision like this. But this was painful for us. I will now have to focus on getting as much as possible of this released investment directed to our area. See my full thoughts below.
The Government has announced that a new law will be introduced so that those who commit murder with sexual or sadistic conduct can expect a whole life sentence without the chance of parole. Currently, this is only expected when two or more murders of this nature are committed. This is an area I have been campaigning on for many years, so it great to see that the worst criminals will get stronger sentences that will give victims more faith in the justice system.
At conference, there were also many other announcements from the Government. Things such as bringing forward a new post 16 qualification to help break down the stigma between technical and academic qualifications. We are also introducing a new National Living Wage, which will see the lowest earners get at least £11 per hour - as well as a new medical school in Chester - ensuring our region gets an influx of new medical professionals.
The skatepark at the Barony in Nantwich will have its grand opening tomorrow. Well done and thank you to everyone involved, least of all Alexander who has worked so hard in pushing this project over the past few years. Great news for local young people! Details of the opening event below.
Finally, there will be a Christmas Fair next months, supporting a great local charity, the Jon Shaw Foundation. You might remember I took the amazing founder Wendy Shaw down to Number 10. It will take place on 18th November at the The White Lion pub on Warmington Road, 11am – 3pm. Why not go along for a great day out and support a fantastic cause in the process!
Have a great weekend.
Life Means Life for the Worst Offenders
You might have noticed that ever since I was elected in 2019 I have championed the benefits I thought HS2 would bring to Crewe and the area. Not everyone has agreed with me. HS2 has never been universally popular. Residents often tell me the money could be better spent. We have problems with bus services across Crewe & Nantwich for example, even with recent new funding.
I respect that the Prime Minister is doing what he thinks is right and you will have seen many MPs now getting funding for their areas welcoming it. I understand why the fate of on town can't be the only factor a Prime Minister takes into account with a decision like this.
But I was bitterly disappointed at the announcement that it won’t now arrive here. This is a painful outcome for us.
I can’t help but think if we had called it something different-the Great North West Railway maybe-instead of High Speed 2, things might have been different. For as long as I have been a supporter, we have had to constantly battle the question-why would I want to get to London quicker?
It was always primarily about increasing capacity on the congested West Coast Main Line-the busiest mixed use railway line in Europe-not speed.
Though I think better connecting Crewe up with Birmingham, and better connecting Birmingham & Manchester and better connecting our three biggest metropolitan areas with each other could have led to more economic growth across the board.
For Crewe & Nantwich residents, if you could easily access the jobs and opportunities in London, Manchester and Birmingham, I think more people would stay living locally, contributing to our local economy and communities.
But the decision has been made. We have to chart a new way forward.
There are reasons to be positive.
Whilst our rail industry was undoubtedly benefiting from the anticipated arrival of HS2, I also meet with a diverse range of growing businesses from other industries locally. They are thriving because of our existing strengths of a growing local population, unrivalled connectivity, and a strong & dynamic small and medium sized business sector.
I am now laser focused on securing further government funding for Crewe & Nantwich in light of our needs fundamentally changing. This week the government reallocated money to a range of projects in other areas. As Crewe was getting HS2 we don’t have off the shelf projects that could be chosen this week for funding. But that should not penalise us as we know we need the funding and will quickly be able to put forward strong cases for investment.
Looking at the positives, we could actually see direct investment coming more quickly than was expected with HS2. It is worth remembering that very little direct cash had actually been agreed, even for the station.
In Crewe we have our ongoing work with the £22.9 million Crewe Town Deal, £14 million Future High Streets Fund and £5 million for Cheshire College. Delivery on these is now even more important. We are due to see Flag Lane Baths reopened as a community hub, Mirion Street reopen as a Boxing Club, and a new Youth Zone. We have already started work on upgrading local pocket parks across Crewe like McClaren Street Park. There are a range of projects in the pipeline. The huge amount of funding that will go towards a new hospital at Leighton will also bring jobs.
But there is no getting away from the disappointment. As your MP I argued for what I thought was best for Crewe. That option isn’t there for us now, but the job of pushing for investment and opportunities continues.
Life Means Life for the Worst Offenders
The Government have announced important reforms to how whole life orders will be applied to those who commit the worst crimes.
Legislation will be introduced so that those who commit murder with sexual or sadistic conduct can expect a whole life order - that is a whole life sentence without the chance of parole. Currently, the requirement for this is that two or more murders of this nature are committed.
On top of this, these guidelines will be introduced retrospectively so those who have already committed such crimes, but are yet to be sentenced, will also face this possibility.
I am glad to see this come forward. Stronger sentences for the worst criminals has always been one of my priorities so that victims and their families feel that they are getting the justice they deserve. I have raised this with multiple Justice Secretaries and Ministers since I was elected.
The new skatepark at the Barony in Nantwich will be having its grand opening tomorrow! Skate workshop at 10.00am and Opening Jam 12.00-4.00pm.
This is great news for local young people and the whole area, which hasn’t had a skate park for well over two years now. I want to really thank Alexander Donlon and Rich Ryan for all their efforts campaigning on this, and for Ansa for taking the time to listen to their views and the views of other people that wanted a skate park Nantwich can be proud of.
I am still limited in my mobility (hoping to have my cast off at my appointment next week) so won't be there but I am sure it will be a great celebration.
This week was the Conservative Party Conference and the Government announced a series of long term policies. This includes:
- Reform to the Education System - This includes combining A-Levels and T-Levels to form a new qualification - the Advanced British Standard. Through this post-16 students will study a wider range of subjects, including Maths and English until the age of 18. This will bring us in line with other developed countries such as the USA, Germany and France. The announcement came alongside a commitment of £600 Million to increase the number of teaching hours.
- Creation of a New Medical School in Chester - This is great new for Crewe and Nantwich, as medical students will generally stay in the area they trained, meaning we will get a flow of highly trained junior doctors in our hospitals for years to come.
- Increasing the National Living Wage to £11 per hour - Giving a pay boost to the lowest earners and helping ease the pressures of the cost of living.
- Banning Mobile Phones in School - School should be a place where pupils concentrate, and mobile phones provide an unnecessary distraction. This measure will also help crack down on cyberbullying and disruptive behaviour.
This week I wanted to raise the up-coming Christmas fair on 18th November at the The White Lion pub on Warmington Road. The Fair will be taking place from 11am – 3pm, and have crafters, cakes, hot pork rolls, Santa and a Luxury Christmas Hamper Draw.
All proceeds raised will be going to the Jon Shaw Foundation, a charity which supports young people living with epilepsy; aims to improve the mental health of bereaved siblings and close friends; whilst also promoting awareness of SUDEP, Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy.
The following are road closures for the week ahead as reported by Cheshire east.
Annions Lane - Until 20th November
Flowers Lane – Until 26th Nov (see Leighton closures)
Smithy Lane – Until 1st Nov (see Leighton closures)
Manor Way - 25th September until 17th November
Park Road - Until 19th October
B5341 Rail Crossing, Nantwich - 7th October until 8th October
Hillfield Place, Nantwich - 10th October
Crewe Road, Haslington - Between Holmshaw Lane and Canon Ward Avenue - 7th October until 8th October
For further details of the closures around Leighton hospital, please see: North West Crewe Package (cheshireeast.gov.uk)