The Minister for Local Growth and the Northern Powerhouse, James Wharton, highlighted the importance of Cheshire and Warrington in Government plans for the Northern Powerhouse during a visit to the North West this week.
LEP Board Member and well-known music mogul Pete Waterman welcomed the minister to the North West on Monday evening to discuss the key growth opportunities across Cheshire and Warrington including plans for HS2 and the major re-development of Crewe, as well as the assets identified along Cheshire’s Science Corridor and the £300million economic regeneration project happening at Chester city centre.
He was joined by representatives from the Lancashire, Cumbria, Liverpool LEPs to discuss Government’s wider ambition for the Northern Powerhouse.
Mr Wharton, said: “The North West has a major role to play in the success of the Northern Powerhouse and today’s visit has shown just how much is happening on the ground.
“I have been really impressed with the level of close cooperation I have seen today between the private sector, councils and local enterprise partnerships, and I have seen at first hand some really impressive results which are already driving growth.”
On Tuesday Mr Wharton met council leaders from the three local authorities along with several LEP board members, to discuss the wealth of economic opportunity at key locations in the sub-region. Local authority leaders highlighted the areas where devolved powers could help to accelerate further economic growth across Cheshire and Warrington.
LEP board member and managing director of TATA Chemicals Dr Martin Ashcroft said: “The minister’s visit has reinforced the importance of Cheshire and Warrington within Government’s vision for the Northern Powerhouse. We will continue to explore the opportunities for devolved powers and will work closely with neighbouring LEP’s to ensure that Cheshire and Warrington plays a key role in the future of the North.”
The day included a visit to Birchwood Park to showcase the nationally significant nuclear cluster at Warrington as well as a tour of the new facilities at the ERDF (European Regional Development Fund) co-funded High Growth Centre at Thornton Science Park in Ellesmere Port, where the minister talked to several energy and advanced engineering SMEs and start-ups who are based at the site.
Finally the party headed to Jodrell Bank to discuss the science and innovation contribution to growth with director Teresa Anderson. Earlier in the day the minister visited Coleg Cambria in Deeside within North Wales, one of the UK’s largest colleges with over 7000 full-time students, where he was met by the college’s principal and chief executive David Jones OBE.
A roundtable discussion then took place around cross-border collaboration with Alun Cairns MP (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Wales) and partners from Cheshire & Warrington and North East Wales.