A NORTHWICH councillor is set to take on a prestigious new role to help Cheshire West get the best transport service it can.

Cheshire West and Chester Council’s cabinet will confirm on Wednesday that Cllr Andrew Cooper, Labour member for Leftwich, is to represent the borough on Transport for the North’s (TfN) scrutiny board.

The committee examines what TfN is doing, makes sure projects are on track and taxpayers’ money is being spent effectively, and makes recommendations to TfN’s decision-making board.

Cllr Cooper told the Guardian it is ‘quite a prestigious board to be involved with’ – and it will help to make sure Northwich and Cheshire West has its voice heard.

He said: “I am there to represent Cheshire West, so I would not seek to give greater advantage to Northwich than any other part of the borough.

“But that said, I have got a lot of experience with transport issues in the Northwich area involving rail, road and buses – and I will certainly be bringing that experience to the table.

“Cheshire West is in quite a unique position because it is the gateway to Wales, and strategically we sit between Liverpool, Manchester and Birmingham. It is quite an important area.

“TfN covers an enormous patch, from Malpas to the Scottish Borders, so it is important that we make our voice heard on boards such as this so we can get the best outcomes we can.”

Cllr Cooper is no stranger to transport issues – having attended Mid Cheshire Rail Users Association meetings and sat on Northwich Town Council’s HS2 consultation working group.

He joins the board at a crucial time, with the Government recently confirming its intention to change the Northern rail franchise that runs the Mid Cheshire Line.

But Cllr Cooper insists there are more issues that must be resolved on the north’s rail network to stop the region feeling left behind.

They include the delivery of two new platforms at Manchester Piccadilly, promised by former Tatton MP and Chancellor George Osborne in 2014 to boost rail capacity on routes to and from the station.

Cllr Cooper said: “I think getting rid of the franchise is an important first step, but I am concerned that the time taken to decide what to replace it with is displaced activity over addressing the other key causes of the problems in the Northern area.

“George Osborne made some commitments around infrastructure spending when he was chancellor – particularly around Manchester Piccadilly – that have only been partly delivered.

"We need those two new platforms at Piccadilly for the second train an hour on the Mid Cheshire Line. Without that promised investment it is hard to see how that could happen.

“The basis of the Northern franchise in terms of what timetable they can deliver is on the assumption that this infrastructure is improved.

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“If it is not, then it will feel like the north is being let down again.”

Cllr Louise Gittins, CWAC’s Labour leader, represents the borough on TfN’s decision-making board.