Communities Secretary Eric Pickles has weighed in behind a campaign to get the Staffordshire Moorlands recognised officially by the Royal Mail.
The fight for official recognition was started last week by District Council leader Sybil Ralphs, who said that having a Staffordshire Moorlands post town would raise the area’s profile and make it easier to attract inward investment through tourism and from businesses looking to relocate.
On Thursday, November 24th at 10 Downing Street, Mr Pickles pledged to support the crusade when he met Cllr Ralphs before a reception given by Prime Minister David Cameron.
Cllr Ralphs already has the backing of Moorlands MP Karen Bradley, who is to write to Ed Davey, Minister for Consumer Affairs, to call for a Staffordshire Moorlands post town.
Speaking after her visit to Downing Street, Cllr Ralphs said that dozens of residents had contacted her over the last 10 days to pledge their support.
Now, she is going to write to all 42 parish councils to urge them to back the fight and to start including the words, “Staffordshire Moorlands”, in addresses. In addition, she will seek support from the district’s parish assembly when it meets next week.
At the moment, Leek is the only town in the district designated as a post town. As a result, Biddulph and Cheadle – and the many villages – are covered by towns outside the district.
The result is that many residents have addresses which they feel do not accurately reflect the identity of where they live.
“It’s ridiculous that our post towns often associate residents with places miles from where they live – such as Stoke and Buxton. By creating a Staffordshire Moorlands post town, we would make clear where people live.
“And this would have the added advantage of marketing the district as a distinctive place with much to offer investors and visitors”, she explained.
During her meeting with Mr Cameron, Cllr Ralphs said she was delighted that the Government had awarded Moorland and City Railways (MCR) £1.65m in Regional Growth Fund money towards its expansion plans.
MCR’s restoration of the rail line from Staffordshire Moorlands into Stoke-on-Trent, creating a link with the West Coast Main Line, will provide a sustainable and low-carbon freight and passenger route. Major quarries, Alton Towers and the town of Leek will benefit from direct rail access.
Having already re-opened the eight-mile stretch between Leekbrook and Cauldon Lowe, MCR is now making progress with restoration work from Leekbrook towards Stoke-on-Trent. It is planned to have the line open as far as Endon by early 2012.
Mr Cameron told Cllr Ralphs that, when MCR’s expansion was complete, he would be thrilled to ride on the first train from Leek to Stoke-on-Trent in nearly 50 years.