NORTHWICH Town Council has voted to oppose the Crewe to Manchester section of HS2.

At their monthly meeting on Monday, July 4, councillors said the controversial £17.2 billion scheme would 'strangle' the town and 'destroy' countryside, bringing no obvious benefit.

Last week, the hybrid Crewe-Manchester Line Bill passed the second reading stage on its way through the Parliamentary process.

Cllr Andrew Cooper, who abstained from the vote to oppose the line due to a declared interest as a member of Transport for the North’s Scrutiny Panel, explained how the council can have its say on the bill.

He said: “Parliament have approved the principle of the bill and it will now go to the committee stage.

“Because it’s a hybrid bill, interested parties have the opportunity to petition against it.

“That means any individual or organisation directly or specially affected by the bill can set out the reasons why passing that bill will affect them and what they would like to see changed.

“Cheshire West and Chester Council will be petitioning against it, and we’ve been asked by many people, including our MP Mike Amesbury if we would like to petition against it too.

“What that means is that we would have to submit our written representations to the select committee.”

However, Cllr Sam Naylor said providing mitigation to the line didn’t go far enough and called for a vote of the council to oppose the Crewe to Manchester stage of HS2 in its entirety.

“My stance on it – and I think the council should make a decision on it democratically – is that as a town council, we strongly object to this line from Crewe to Manchester.

“It will have a devastating impact on this town for a considerable period – seven to 10 years – during which it will strangle the town and businesses and communities will suffer severely.”

Cllr Catherine Fox agreed, saying: “I can’t see there being any economic benefit to compensate for such a loss and destruction of open countryside.

“There needs to be more sustainable investment in addressing connectivity.

“This will take billions out of the economy for what is essentially another London-centric approach.”

As part of the plans for the construction of the Crewe to Manchester line, Cllr Brian Holland revealed the A556 would likely be closed or severely restricted from early 2025 until the end of 2031.

He said: “If it follows the scenario of other towns within the existing HS2, those timings tend to slip quite considerably, so the statement of nearer 10 years is probably true than the six years they’re quoting.”

Cllr Kate Cernik, who also abstained from voting on opposing HS2, said that while she thought the current route was wrong, she did support the scheme as it would bring economic benefit to the North West.

In total, there were six abstentions from the vote, but it was unanimously carried by every other councillor.

The town council also voted in favour of creating a sub-committee to work on drafting a response to the hybrid bill.