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After I drew the progress and significant potential of the Wisbech rail scheme to the attention of the Secretary of State for Local Government Eric Pickles, he wrote to Cabinet Office Minister Greg Clark recognising the benefits of the line and calling for it to be implemented more quickly.
In response the Cabinet Office has agreed, in a letter dated 27th March 2015, that millions can now be used to progress the scheme providing it has £1.50 of benefits for each pound spent. A strategic report produced by Cambridgeshire County Council earlier this month showed the Wisbech line will deliver benefits of between £1.90 and £3.70. Therefore, it is almost certain that we will meet this test, which will then unlock the £10.5m fund previously set aside by the Government for Wisbech transport, creating an almost unstoppable momentum for the implementation of the Wisbech to Cambridge line.
This is absolutely fantastic news. The scheme has made huge leaps in the past few years and I have held regular meetings with Ministers, local authorities, industry representatives and key stakeholders to ensure that this vital project progresses. In fact I had meetings with four different Ministers to discuss this in the last week of Parliament alone.
I will be pushing for the money to be spent as soon as possible in order to avoid any further delay and will keep residents updated. The County Council will now produce a detailed engineering study in June commissioned from consultants, whilst an industry forum comprising business leaders, council bosses, and other key players is due to meet also in June to discuss next steps. We can now focus on how we use the millions that will be available from June to move this forward.