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MP acts as peacemaker in jobs row

CHESTER MP Christine Russell has urged all parties to get round the table in a row which could put 2,700 potential jobs on the line.

CHESTER MP Christine Russell has urged all parties to get round the table in a row which could put 2,700 potential jobs on the line.

Mrs Russell is acting as peacemaker after Cheshire County Council raised highways objections to an MBNA expansion plan at Chester Business Park.

Bosses at Chester City Council, which will determine the application, are unhappy with a county council press release which talks of 'objections', fearing it will upset Chester's largest private employer.

Mrs Russell said: 'I hope the city council, the county council and the Highways Agency will get round the table to hammer out a long-term solution to traffic problems emanating from Chester Business Park.'

Cheshire County Council also supports the MBNA scheme in principle but members have lodged an objection until traffic and transport issues have been resolved.

County councillor Eveleigh Moore Dutton (Con) told Tuesday's County Hall development regulatory committee: 'The traffic is hell.'

Barbara Mothershaw, head of economic development at Chester City Council, is confident obstacles can be worked out.

She said: 'We try to work with businesses to try to find solutions to their expansion proposals and we hope this will happen as far as MBNA is concerned.'

Andy Farrall, city council head of planning, declined to indicate whether he would be likely to recommend city members approve the scheme.

He said: 'The county council has some concerns which need to be sorted out. They say they will be liaising directly with the MBNA team to do just that. We will await the outcome.'

He pointed to planned improvement works for Wrexham Road which will include a dual carriageway in both directions on the section between the business park and the A55 junction.

MBNA spokesman John Greaves said: 'There is a process to follow and we are happy to follow that process.'

Mrs Russell spoke of a planning green paper published this week: 'One of the key objectives of this consultation document is to ensure the system promotes economic  prosperity by speeding up the planning process.

'Lengthy delays in the planning system are bad for business, especially companies like  MBNA who have to compete in the global economy.

'As a former chairman of the city planning committee I know how difficult it is to accommodate the need to protect the Green Belt on the one hand with the need to provide jobs.'


David Holmes
Chief News Reporter
David Norbury
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