Vale of Clwyd MP Dr James Davies was among several Parliamentarians, representing Anglesey through to Ellesmere Port, who met virtually last week to re-establish the Mersey Dee North Wales All-Party Parliamentary Group, which aims to promote the economic success of the region.
The area, with a population of almost 900,000, is said to be unique in the UK as it is described as a major economic zone divided by a political boundary. The Mersey Dee North Wales All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) was first established in 2016 to help improve links across the West Cheshire, Wirral and North East Wales area on both sides of the England-Wales border.
Current group members, many of whom already work together on an informal basis, were keen to formalise membership of the group in the Spring, however this was postponed due to the Covid-19 outbreak. Under new Commons guidance, MPs were able to meet virtually last week and reinstate the APPG.
During the meeting James was elected as Chair unanimously and four Vice-Chairs were also elected – three of whom are MPs and one of whom is a Member of the House of Lords.
Once the formalities had been completed, a representative of the Welsh Local Government Association provided an update on a series of rail projects which are being considered, including changes to signalling to reduce journey times and the introduction of fresh rolling stock, a matter James has already raised with the Rail Minister.
During the meeting, Airbus’ recent announcement that 1,435 jobs are at risk at their Broughton plant was discussed. Colleagues from across the political spectrum outlined their willingness to work together, with employees and the Government to address the uncertainty.
James, together with other regional MPs, had previously met with the Business Minister and Union representatives, and since the APPG meeting a number of the group’s members have met with the Chairman and Senior VP of Airbus UK.
Speaking after the meeting, James said
“The APPG hopes to forge further economic, social and political links in the unique, urban cross border areas of North Wales, the Wirral and Cheshire West and Chester.
“Now more than ever it is essential that our region has a strong voice in Parliament.
“Our local economy has been hit harder than most as a result of Covid-19– seasonal businesses in coastal towns and villages have seen trade plummet, whilst skilled workers in the manufacturing hubs are now concerned for their future.
“The priorities of this group, which include increasing inward investment, promoting our regional skills and expertise, and taking advantage of our unique geographical position, are perfectly aligned with the UK Government’s plan for the years ahead.
“Both now, as we face the immediate challenges of Covid-19, and in the years ahead as we look to enhance our region, this All-Party Parliamentary Group will fight for the residents, businesses and interests of North Wales and the Mersey Dee.”
The APPG will meet again after the summer recess.