European funding could be the ticket for Fenland

The long-awaited re-opening of Wisbech railway station is set to receive Euro funding to make it a reality.

But Fenland MP Steve Barclay is calling on local councils to spend money on an essential feasibility study now so the project is ready when bidding opens on a pot of EU cash next spring.

Earlier this month the government announced £250,000 of funding for the Local Enterprise Partnership’s (LEP) Wisbech Access Strategy to pay for a detailed engineering study looking at how Network Rail can deliver the scheme to re-open Wisbech railway station and re-instate the rail link between Wisbech and March.

However, the funding will not be available until April next year – which would be too late if a bid for cash from the European Structural and Investment Funds being allocated to LEPs for 2014-2020 is to be successful.

Mr Barclay said: “The government’s announcement earlier this month was the breakthrough we have been waiting for. But now we need either Fenland District Council or Cambridgeshire County Council to agree to spend the money from their reserves on the understanding the funding will be forthcoming in April.

“I have managed to secure written ministerial approval for either or both of the councils to use their reserves to enable the studies to be carried out this year on the understanding the money will be coming next year.”

He added: “We really need this work to be done as soon as possible so preparation can start on a proposed scheme ready for when the bidding process for this European funding begins next spring.

“The Greater Cambridge and Greater Peterborough (LEP) is likely to receive around £72m of this European money, which is designed to improve economic growth and social well-being. I want to see this area receive its fair share of that money.

“Everyone I speak to locally tells me how important it is for the area’s economic growth to have a rail link for Wisbech, so the sooner we can make progress the better as this EU funding could be the golden ticket we have been waiting for.”