Rail Services (Erewash)

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 12:30 pm on 7th December 2010.

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Photo of Jessica Lee Jessica Lee Conservative, Erewash 12:30 pm, 7th December 2010

My hon. Friend makes a good point, and I agree. The possibility of enjoying the benefits of employment and the ability to travel to work would be much improved. As my hon. Friend suggested, that would revitalise the whole of the east midlands up to Sherwood.

Any proposal for a train station would be backed by the local business community in Erewash. Our excellent local business group, the Erewash Partnership, certainly supports the campaign. I had better declare now that the local MP is always asked to sit on the partnership's board, and it is a real privilege and honour to do that. The partnership would assist wherever needed to help the plan come to fruition.

Turning to the approach taken by the coalition Government, I have been encouraged by the observations made by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor in his Budget speech in June, and by the Secretary of State for Transport, on the importance of rail travel. In his recent statement of 25 November, the Secretary of State set out the Government's plans for investment in rail infrastructure and rolling stock.

I have undertaken meetings in recent weeks and months with the borough councils and the county council in Derbyshire. I have written to the leader of Derbyshire county council, and I am encouraged by the reply that I have received. That letter, from Councillor Andrew Lewer, dated 25 November, confirms that the station proposal, the estimated cost of which is £5 million to £6 million, is one of the major transport infrastructure proposals in the local transport plan, and that it is deliverable within the time scale of the current Parliament. Further, he accepts that the plan offers good value for money.

I am further encouraged by the fact that, following my letter, the leader of the council accepts that serious discussions will take place next year and, importantly, that a bid for funding from the regional growth fund will be made in January 2011. Of course, I support that bid, which will be made through the newly formed local enterprise partnership. That is good news, and I am grateful that the county council is making the application in the short period before the January deadline.

Having addressed the social and economic case for a station in Ilkeston and put it in its historical setting, I hope that my right hon. Friend the Minister will agree that there is a powerful case for a station to be reopened in Erewash, particularly in the Ilkeston area. I will do all I can to support any proposals to make this project a reality.