Speaking after the launch of the plans for the redevelopment of Skelmersdale town centre West Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper said:
“After six long years of waiting the people of Skelmersdale can now see the plans for their new town centre.
“From day one I have been absolutely determined Skelmersdale would have a new town centre. It is the very least the people and the town deserve after so many broken promises and false dawns.
“I have never forgotten the Skelmersdale resident who said to me that the town has had more visions than St Bernadette.
“It is for this reason that I have committed so much time and effort to making the scheme happen, even at the times when West Lancashire Borough Council considered a pause. I fought ferociously against the Tesco – Kirkby proposals which would have killed off the Skelmersdale scheme.
“I even fought against the Council when they wanted to put the scheme on hold as late as August last year.
“Through my Skelmersdale Summit meetings I kept working with all the partners to keep driving the plans forward with the commitment that the people of Skelmersdale could not be failed again.
“The plan the residents are being consulted on has 95% support from me. I cannot give my absolute 100% backing for two specific reasons. Having worked so closely with the partners to make this scheme happen, the plans presented at the launch had been changed. I was very surprised by these very last minute changes. Just before the launch was the first time I saw them.
“They have changed in a way that will negatively impact on the Concourse, which I could not support.
“The new town centre will attract more people to shop and visit Skelmersdale town centre. An increase in the number of shoppers would benefit existing shop owners in the Concourse. Therefore, it is essential there are excellent links between the new development and the Concourse.
“By locating a new petrol station where they have on the plans, will actually hurt those links between the new town centre and the Concourse. This is not acceptable.
“My other major concern is that the town centre plans are not just for today but one for the future of Skelmersdale. This demands that we look to the future, something West Lancashire Borough Council has failed to do.
“Delivering a railway station in Skelmersdale is a long-standing ambition. It won’t happen in the next year or two but we have to safeguard some land in the plan for it to happen in the future.
“As it stands the Council has not protected any land and my fear is that unless they do so then when it comes time to build this rail service there will be nowhere for it to go.
“Therefore, I am calling on the council to get a grip and make land for rail services a priority in their local plan and in the proposals for the redevelopment of the town centre.
“My final message to West Lancashire Borough Council and the developers is that they need to actually listen to the people of Skelmersdale and get on with building a new town centre. They have all been talking about long enough, now it is time to deliver and live up to the values they espouse of putting people first.”