train - Crewe Railway Station

Crewe is uniquely positioned in terms of location, heritage and expertise to become the new headquarters for Great British Railways, Cheshire East has said.

Councillors from across the borough unanimously backed a motion for the council to engage directly with the Transport Secretary Grant Shapps and prioritise the submission of a competitive bid for Crewe to host the new HQ for Great British Railways.

Deputy council leader Craig Browne (Alderley Edge, Ind) told the full council meeting: “Crewe is uniquely positioned in terms of its position on the rail network with direct connectivity to all parts of the UK and, of course, it has railway heritage, bringing with it a skilled railway workforce.

“Bringing Great British Railways to Crewe would also dovetail neatly with our ambitions for an HS2 multi-modal hub station and support the government’s levelling up agenda.”

Liberal Democrat group leader Rod Fletcher (Alsager) said: “There will be many other towns in this country that also claim to have railway heritage however, in Crewe, I think we have a very big advantage over most if not all other towns.

“Whilst other towns may have had a works, they may have had an administration centre, Crewe has had both a works and an admin centre, which to me is a very, very important point – a lot of expertise in all rail matters.

“We own land close to the station, which means that workers can travel to and from Crewe by train, a very important thing when we’re looking at climate change.”

Cllr Laura Crane (Sandbach Ettiley Heath & Wheelock, Lab) agreed.

“In my opinion, Crewe has to shine as the only possible town for consideration in the UK,” she said.

“Its main reason for existence is the railway. If the works hadn’t been brought to Crewe in 1840 then the town surrounding probably would not have existed, or certainly not in the way that it does now.

“So, I think, no town can really compete with that heritage when it’s paired with the connectivity that we’ve got.

“You can travel from the south of England through Crewe up to Scotland, you can travel to the east, to the west.

“You can go right through Wales to Holyhead and link up with the ferry to Northern Ireland. All four countries of our great nation, linked together by Crewe.”

Crewe councillor Connor Naismith (Lab) said: “Of course, Crewe would be a fantastic headquarters for Great British Rail.

“Crewe’s history, as others have pointed out, is bound up with the railway, it is a core part of the town’s identity and I would actually go as far as to challenge the government to bring this investment here, recognising that fact.”

Cllr Janet Clowes (Wybunbury, Con), who proposed the motion, said: “This is not just a bid by Cheshire East, it will be a Cheshire East bid with partners because we have been working together with regional and sub regional partners as well as local partners for a very long time on building our infrastructure and building HS2.

“I would ask that everybody supports this because… it provides that really important green light to government that says our member body supports this, our region supports this, our sub-region supports this, there is no other better place than Crewe to have your new headquarters.”

(Story by Belinda Ryan, local democracy reporter)

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