I have campaigned for close to a decade for improved transport links between Denton in the north of my constituency and Reddish in the south.
Creating better links between Tameside and Stockport makes sense for local business and the local economy more widely, as well as reducing congestion and improving air quality for all of Greater Manchester. That’s why I’m dedicated to campaigning for improved services for both areas, and specifically improving journey times from Denton into central Manchester.
The benefit of this approach is clear to see. We have existing infrastructure in place, we have the lines, the stations and the route through from Stockport to Manchester Victoria – a destination otherwise not easily accessible directly from south-east Manchester.
Currently we have one ‘Parliamentary Service’ A WEEK which travels from Stockport to Stalybridge (stopping at Reddish South Station and Denton) on Friday mornings – that’s just not good enough. With the infrastructure in place we have to continue to push for a decent service that would link both Denton and Reddish to the rest of Greater Manchester more easily.
That is why with the help and commitment of both the Friends of Reddish South and Friends of Denton Stations’ we have continued our campaign for a proper rail service for our stations. The case to use existing infrastructure is clear to see for all. We need a public transport strategy which seeks to improve links across the Greater Manchester corridor that complements our main roads in order to ease congestion and reduce pollution.
Rather than open up existing rail lines which would connect Greater Manchester more efficiently the proposals put forward by the South East Manchester Multi Modal Strategy (SEMMMS) is for a new road. Ok you might say BUT they’re basically proposing to divert all of Cheshire East and south Stockport’s Manchester-bound traffic on a new bypass to Bredbury where it will join the M60. The next turn-off for Manchester is, you’ve guessed it, Denton. And the predicted result? A worsening of traffic congestion and air quality along this route. That’s why I’m so strongly opposed to it, and why I want to see a public transport solution instead.
It was late this year that a World Health Organisation (WHO) report showed that Mancunians were breathing air that’s considered too dangerous. Historically air pollution throughout the Manchester Outer Ring Road (M60) is high, especially in the northern section of Stockport moving into Denton through on to Audenshaw.
In 2015, around 4.3% of all deaths in people aged 30 and over in Manchester was attributed to long-term exposure to the current levels of man-made air pollution. That means thousands of people across Greater Manchester whose lives are being cut short due to preventable pollution. The proposals put forward by SEMMMS do absolutely nothing to rectify this public health crisis, instead the proposals show that air quality across that entire stretch of motorway running through my constituency is set to deteriorate.
I just don’t think it’s on for a ‘solution’ for part of Stockport to create poorer health inequalities in a part of Tameside. Let’s solve the problem in a smarter, more holistic way.
This is why last week, I, along with representatives from the Friends of Reddish South and Denton stations, met with Andy Burnham and Transport for Greater Manchester to further our campaign for a proper rail service for our stations and our communities.
We need to introduce sensible transport plans that work to free up areas of accumulated traffic and pollution.
Unfortunately, the proposals put forward by SEMMMS will not achieve the cleaner and smoother roads and transport links we all want to see for a better connected Greater Manchester. Let’s ease the strain and get a train.