PRIME minister David Cameron called in to the Warrington Guardian yesterday, Wednesday to discuss some of the town’s biggest topics.
He was joined by Warrington South MP David Mowat while he was visiting the town including a trip to United Utilities base in
Here is what he had to say on some of the issues affecting the borough.
Tolls on the Mersey Gateway
David Cameron said: “It’s good that more infrastructure investment is coming to the north west. David Mowat has been campaigning hard for that.
“I completely understand the concern about the tolls on the two crossings and David Mowat is campaigning hard to make sure when the new crossing is built the charges are low. Obviously we will listen very carefully to people’s concerns.
“In the local growth plans there is the possibility of another crossing here in warrington. The aim is to get better infrastructure and ease people’s journeys to work, to school and to hospital and we have time to consider that.
“The investment is coming in and we have time to think about how best to arrange these charges to make sure we are helping people rather than make life more difficult.”
David Mowat added: “If there is a crossing from Arpley to Chester Road that will make a big difference. It is in the growth fund plans which it has never been before.”
On the impact of swing bridges opening more regularly
David Cameron said: “Lets start with the big picture its good news peel, the government and the city of liverpool are investing. It’s good news for the whole rebalacning of the economy because it means more freight can come direct into the north of England.
“Then we have to think of all the consequences and that is why the second Mersey crossing is important and we need to look at all the swing bridges works.
“But the big picture is Warrington will succeed if we can make sure we generate growing north western economy which is what things like the gateway and improvements on the M6 are all going in the same direction to make sure that the growth we generate in Britain is better balanced than in the past.
David Mowat added: “It’s unfortunate the bridges are swing bridges, that’s a historical fact and they should have built better bridges 20 years ago, hopefully we can get this new bridge to make a difference.”
On how HS2 will impact Warrington
“One of the reasons in the past the growth in our economy has been unbalanced is we haven’t had the transport links that are necessary to unite the country and HS2 is not just about speed it is about capacity. It is going to increase the capacity on our railway lines linking Manchester, Birmingham and Nottingham.
“The big picture is this is part of making sure over the next 20 or 30 years the north west continues to be a real engine of our economy.
There are always difficulty decisions with these major infrastructure projects and listen to people’s views and make sure compensation packages are put in place but we’re proceeding on the very good work done by David Higgins who is leading HS2 and his remit was to make sure we get the maximum benefit from HS2 so that’s why he said lets start building HS to the north west earlier with the link to Crewe and has added in extra links.
“Warrington will benefit even from the first phase of HS2 between London to Birmingham with quicker trains.
David Mowat added: “I have difficulties understanding why we have the spur line, I have spoken to David Higgins and Patrick Macloughlin about it.
“The last time I spoke to Mr Higgins he looked at me very directly and said we are looking at it very hard and it’s out for consultation and I’m quite optimistic.
“The reason is its £1 billion and none of the business case relies on that £1 billion. the ancillary point is I have never heard discussed in parliament where the link to Scotland will be because it could go up the east coast.”
On how Government cuts have affected Warrington
David Cameron said: “If you look at the figures for this year the spending reduction Warrington Borough Council is being asked to make is around 1.9 per cent in their spending power when you take into account grants and council tax and so on. That is a cut but it is less than the national average of 2.6 per cent.
If you out it into context of what other businesses and public services have had to do it’s a relatively modest reduction.
“I think it is possible to do that by looking at the reserves the council has, collecting uncollected council tax and looking for efficiencies like shared services, many other councils around the country have done that so I think they are perfectly capable of doing that without making cuts to essential services.”