My life is really quite marvellous. If rather bonkers. Fresh from the announcement that I am about to take up the chair of the Northern Gateway Development Zone (see blog 19 October), it was my extraordinary privilege to chair a session on our stand at MIPIM UK on Thursday morning about the amazing rail connectivity that the HS2 Interchange at Crewe will bring to the North West and Wales.
All high-octane stuff.
Here you see me introducing a session with Duncan Sutherland of HS2 and Pete Waterman (oh yes!) of the Cheshire and Warrington Local Enterprise Partnership who gave us their invaluable insight into the vital role that rail hubs, but an HS2 hub at Crewe in particular, can play in driving economic regeneration on a nationally significant scale. If you can also spot Philip Cox (now chief executive of the Cheshire and Warrington LEP but formerly big banana at DCLG) looking a bit doleful in the background, that is because he had given Pete Waterman an 11-deck PowerPoint presentation which Pete was… er… interpreting, as only Pete can. Pete was seriously fantastic (“keep up at the back”) but the key messages were delivered in a style more fitting for The X Factor than a presentation to the DfT. Philip was worried that his key metrics could get lost.
But it sure is a powerful story. Christine Gaskell, Cheshire and Warrington LEP chair, hit it home: the recent confirmation of Crewe as a location for HS2 is set to seriously transform connectivity across the North West and north Wales, and throughout north Staffordshire. It will generate significant investment opportunities on a nationally significant scale. It will take a whole hour off the journey from Crewe to London. And it will extend the benefits of a new line to 1.5m people across the regions. It is of huge and transformative significance to the growth and regeneration of our economies in the Northern Gateway.
And our local leaders stand together. Through our innovative partnership approach, working across boundaries and borders, in Stoke and Staffordshire and Cheshire and Warrington, we are all working hard to capitalise on these opportunities, and to continue to promote and raise awareness of the importance of the Crewe Hub as a gateway to the North.
This session really highlighted why the Crewe Hub is a key priority for us all. Needless to say it was huge, huge fun.