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Calls for better transport links in county

Community leaders in Stafford borough have called for better public transport to help Staffordshire residents access attractions and facilities on their doorstep.

A bus stop on the A34 Cannock Road, Stafford. Photo: Google

Other county councillors in the Staffordshire Moorlands have urged the authority to consider transport links as part of the campaign to boost business growth along the A500 and A50 crossing from Stoke-on-Trent into Staffordshire.

Their comments came as councillors considered Staffordshire’s economic picture during a meeting on Thursday (March 14). Councillor Jill Hood said: “We are really lucky to live in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent because of the amount of attractions that we have.

“I feel particularly blessed to be in Stone because we have many visitors on their way to Alton Towers, the Potteries, Trentham and al the other places that we love to go to. Many of them pull up in the town and spend and it boosts the local economy.

“But there is no, or very little, public transport. When I go to Trentham and I look at the hundreds of cars, it just makes me sad.

“Here we are, talking about our visitor product, and delivering a green sustainable tourism offer. If we had public transport maybe it would reduce drastically the amount of cars going to these various tourist attractions – and in the summer, the burden of cost put on families trying to get to these places without public transport.

“So I ask the leader perhaps this county council can have a look at public transport to help make it easier for us to visit, and for those coming from across the country to visit.”

Councillor Mark Winnington highlighted HS2’s Handsacre link to Stafford and work already taking place to boost the area around the town’s railway station being led by the borough council. He said: “We will have, according to law, a connection at Handsacre onto the West Coast Main Line and this will go through Stafford.

“My plea is, when we’re looking at the planning on the Local Transport Fund (awarded to Staffordshire in the wake of the cancellation of HS2 Phase 2a), we look towards doing some sort of work with the borough council around improving the station. We need to be looking at improving public transport and enhancing it.

“To my mind Stafford, with all its connections, should be looked at as a multi-modal link, which means we can then feed that out to greater Staffordshire and make sure that all our residents have good public transport and less traffic on the roads as well.”

Councillor Nigel Yates, who spoke at Thursday’s meeting in support of the county council’s Fifty500 Corridor scheme, said: “I would like the leader’s commitment that we ensure that any development that goes ahead on the A500/A50 corridor include a co-ordinated transport approach. I understand that we are looking at the Local Transport Plan for the next five years or so and that’s currently under consultation.”

Councillor Mark Deaville said: “Alton Towers is on my doorstep and thank God for Alton Towers we always say. The trick in the Staffordshire Moorlands is how we get from Cheadle, Leek and outlying villages onto the A50 and A500.

“Our part of the jigsaw is to formulate and work with the county on a transport plan that enables us to access the A50/A500 corridor. My ask would also be when we go to consultation on the transport plan, it’s really important that districts have a voice -we have got to consult properly and thoroughly on this.”

Council leader Alan White said in his statement to the meeting that creating conditions to support the growth of the county’s economy remained one of the authority’s top priorities. He added: “This includes our visitor economy and ensuring that we are taking full advantage of the fact that Staffordshire is home to numerous nationally renowned attractions.

“As a county council, we know that a good, connected road network is important to the people and businesses of Staffordshire; we have invested additional funding ourselves, but we are also committed to securing additional national funding which is being allocated after the changes to HS2. I am pleased therefore that Staffordshire recently secured a further boost of almost £286million for local transport projects spanning over a seven-year period from 2025/26.”

Councillor White said on Thursday: “We have a Bus Service Improvement Plan which is ongoing at the moment; we are in the process of refreshing it. We also have a Local Transport Plan that we are working towards and we would hope we get that plan in place by the end of the year – the deadline for that is April 2025.

“I have been delighted to engage with Councillor Mike Gledhill, the leader of Staffordshire Moorlands District Council. He, along with the council, will be contributing to the Local Transport Plan as will districts and boroughs across the county, recognising how people move around.

“How people move around in the north of the county bears no resemblance to how people move around in the south, east or the centre of the county. So the Local Transport Plan will acknowledge that.”

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