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Public Transport: North Staffordshire — [Sir Christopher Chope in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 2:03 pm on 23rd January 2020.

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Photo of Karen Bradley Karen Bradley Conservative, Staffordshire Moorlands 2:03 pm, 23rd January 2020

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. With vision, we could make something really exciting happen for the whole of Stoke-on-Trent and north Staffordshire: we could see connectivity. My hon. Friend Sir William Cash is another constituency neighbour of mine and was unable to attend the debate, but he is also very keen for work to be done to address the bus routes. I am sure we could benefit his constituency, too, with some form of electric tram that is clean and quiet and delivers the connectivity that my constituents would greatly value.

I will finish with two more points on transport that are more general to the area. The first is about HS2, which is not really an issue in my constituency because, as I have said, the name “Moorlands” suggests it is hilly. It also means that people do not tend to want to build railway lines through it. However, we need to ensure that connectivity to the west coast main line, Stoke-on-Trent and Macclesfield station is maintained. We benefit from having two trains an hour from Stoke to London Euston, and one train an hour from Macclesfield. Those are really important services that we need to ensure we keep. It takes an hour and 24 minutes from Stoke-on-Trent station to London Euston, although it may take my constituents another 40 or 50 minutes to get home from Stoke-on-Trent station, because there is no bus service that runs from Stoke-on-Trent station to anywhere other than Hanley bus station, and then they have to change—that is another story. In any work that is done on HS2, I hope we can ensure that connectivity to Stoke-on-Trent is maintained.

My final point is on the M6, which is our nearest motorway, and on the pinch points at junction 15 that my hon. Friend Aaron Bell spoke about. The stretch between junctions 15 and 16 is an issue that needs to be examined. If anybody listens to any travel report at any time of the day, they will almost certainly hear that there are problems on the M6 in Staffordshire around junctions 15 and 16. We cannot widen the motorway at that point, because there are issues with the topography of the area. We cannot make it a smart motorway, because the hard shoulder is not wide enough. When we have smart motorways south from junction 15 and potentially north from junction 16, the stretch between 15 and 16 will just be worse. I ask the Minister to look carefully at what could be done to alleviate the problems, which would benefit all of us in north Staffordshire.