The County Council That Cocks-up For West Lancashire

On 8th December 2020 West Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper told us she “Is progressing the campaign for Skelmersdale Train Station having met with Network Rail last week. It has been 12 months since Boris Johnson announced that Skelmersdale railway station will be built”.

So Rosie had since written to the Prime Minister and Transport Secretary seeking reassurance that the project is still on track. Responding, Rail Minister Chris Heaton-Harris “yesterday confirmed to Rosie that Department for Transport officials met with Lancashire County Council counterparts to discuss the work the council commissioned to assess the scheme”.

Minister Heaton-Harris further stated “LCC expect to conclude the SOBC (Strategic Outline Business Case) in the first quarter of 2021 and we look forward to discussing it with them in the anticipation that they will wish to seek Government funding”.

Rosie then commented “I have taken every opportunity to lobby Ministers, ask questions in Parliament and make the case for a railway station in Skelmersdale. Many Skelmersdale residents feel isolated and forgotten and think the railway station would never be built. A railway station in the heart of Skelmersdale will open up a world of economic and social opportunities for the town and its residents.

“I also met with officials from Network Rail on Friday who briefed me about the progress being made on the Strategic Outline Business Case working with Lancashire County Council and engineers Mott MacDonald.

“It was good news to hear that investigations have shown that rail is the right solution for transport in and out of Skelmersdale and ruling out other options such as light rail or a parkway some miles from the town. Receiving confirmation from the Transport Minister, who I will be meeting with tomorrow (Wednesday), that his department’s officials are in discussions with LCC show just how high up the agenda this is for all the partners involved.

“I have also written to the Lancashire County Council Chief Executive seeking a formal update on progress, as the business case is due for completion early in the New Year.

“It is inconceivable that in the 21st Century, a town with a population of 38,000, is served only by infrequent buses and where residents who don’t own cars can’t easily go about their daily lives, work, shop or enjoy visits to theatres and cinemas in nearby towns such as Liverpool and Manchester. This railway station will mean that West Lancashire constituents will no longer be isolated from 21st Century Britain”.

So what happened to the formal update on progress on the business case from the LCC Chief Executive? Nothing, apparently. No update on Rosie’s website, we steadily advance into 2021, and is it another kick in the teeth for the town with a virtually isolated population of 38,000? From the county that demeans the West Lancashire residents who are regularly flooded in their homes?  

And “Skelmersdale West County Councillor Julie Gibson has reacted with dismay that she is not allowed to address the Development Control Committee (taking place virtually) on a planning application for Whitemoss Landfill site” so what price local democracy and representation?

Is it any wonder it is known as “the county council that cocks-up for West Lancashire”?

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