This is not going to be a piece about this week's problems with the West Coast main line but I did say the blog would be back on January 5th so apologies to both my regular readers for being a few days late and can I wish you all a very Happy New Year.
I had a good break over the holiday period including a very pleasant couple of days walking in the Yorkshire Dales but unfortunately the work doesn't stop piling up even over Christmas and much of the week has been spent playing catch -up.
A couple of interesting events yesterday. Firstly I was pleased to be invited to join a couple of dozen business people from across the North West at a breakfast with Business Secretary Peter Mandelson. I thought Lord Mandelson was very impressive - listening carefully to people, in all cases responding positively, in some cases challenging, but also when things new to him were being raised, acknowledging that and pledging to look into those issues further. He took copious notes to back up that commitment. Not surprisingly a couple of people raised transport and our failed Transport Innovation Fund proposals. He pointed out very clearly that the funding was for innovation and no innovationno funding. He also said that there are already other people bidding for that funding just as I predicted. I had to challenge one speaker who claimed we were ready to spend on transport schemes tomorrow. Let's be clear, even if government said we could still have the £1.5billion we wouldn't know what we would spend it on because we have schemes worked up that far exceed that value. Now, as a result of TIF being thrown out, rather than doing them all, we will now have to prioritise and see if we can get funding for any.
I can still feel the after effects of yesterday evening, when I had expected to play in a Councillors team at a 5-a-side charity football match organised by Councillor Luthfur Rahman to support Save the Children and ended up playing four games in less than an hour, each against a fresh team, most of whom had at leat a 35 year age advantage on me. It took place at the Jain Community Centre on Stockport Road and was a tremendous event although I'm not sure yet how much it raised, and my sore muscles will be remembering it for several days.