BOROUGH chiefs are calling for highways improvements to be a key priority as the north’s new transport body begins its journey.

At a meeting on Tuesday, members of Cheshire East Council’s cabinet agreed to take part in a consultation for Transport for the North’s (TfN) strategic transport plan.

In its response, CEC will emphasise the need for ‘sustained investment’ in the borough’s road network, including the M6 corridor.

CEC will also remind TfN of the ‘transformational importance’ of Crewe’s proposed HS2 hub, and underline the proposals set out in the West and Wales strategic rail prospectus – which calls for the Middlewich branch line to be reopened for passenger trains.

Cllr Rachel Bailey, CEC leader, attended a shadowing meeting at TfN in February and suggested the body would be looking to ‘pump prime’ and attract private sector investment.

She told the cabinet: “This was about ambition. It was not about ‘this is what we are going to do and here is the budget’.”

TfN became a statutory body last week, with Cllr Liz Wardlaw, cabinet member for health, attending its inaugural meeting on behalf of CEC.

Cllr Dorothy Flude, Labour member for Crewe South, welcomed CEC’s input into TfN’s consultation – particularly calls to improve the M6 corridor, keep rail fares affordable and improve bus services.

“Locally it is really important because people do want to come to Crewe to see what we have got,” she said.