Wisbech praised in Minister’s visit

Secretary of State Greg Clark MP visting Wisbech with Steve Barclay MP and Gary Garford ANL-160330-162441009
Secretary of State Greg Clark MP visting Wisbech with Steve Barclay MP and Gary Garford ANL-160330-162441009

A government minister has hailed the potential of Wisbech during a visit to discuss the proposed revival of its rail links.

Communities secretary Greg Clark met political and business leaders at the Boathouse Business Centre last Wednesday, before taking a tour of the town centre.

The visit came as work continues on the bid to re-open the rail line linking Wisbech with March and Cambridge and plans for a garden town development which could see up to 10,000 new homes built on the western and eastern edges of Wisbech.

Reinstating the railway is likely to cost at least £100 million, but Mr Clark said the benefits of the connection would be felt across a much wider area.

He said: “If we can help Cambridge to prosper by improving the ability of towns like Wisbech to be connected with it, this is an investment.”

He also praised the “powerful” coalition of political and business representatives from Norfolk and Cambridgeshire who were working on the projects.

And Wisbech Town Council leader David Oliver said the bid had the potential to “open up” the entire area.

North East Cambridgeshire MP Steve Barclay said the meeting was “highly significant” and demonstrated the progress that had been made on the rail bid.

He said: “When I started working on this, people said I had no chance.

“We’ve now got senior officials from Whitehall and today a cabinet minister coming to look at the potential of the proposal.”

The garden town project has been referred to in the draft devolution agreement for Cambridgeshire, Norfolk and Suffolk which was outlined in chancellor George Osborne’s Budget statement last month.

Mr Clark said it was important that any new developments reflected the high standard of architecture the town boasts.

Fenland District Council leader John Clark admitted it would be a “long journey” to fully transform the town, but said the minister’s visit was an important step along that road.

He said: “It gets our message to the heart of government.”