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New Eddisbury MP pledges more schools and hospitals money

Mairead Smyth

Political reporter, BBC Radio Merseyside

The Conservative Party's new MP for Eddisbury Edward Timpson said it was "fantastic" to get "such a strong mandate".

He secured a majority of 18,443 votes and takes over from Antoinette Sandbach, the former Conservative MP who joined the Lib Dems after she was suspended from the party.

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Mr Timpson said he has lived in the south Cheshire area for 30 years and promised more money for schools, hospitals and more help for farmers.

"But first of all, we've got to get Brexit done," he said.

Where the battle for the North West will be won and lost...

The North West is represented by 69 seats in the House of Commons. Breaking it down a bit, we have 27 from Greater Manchester, 16 from Lancashire, 15 from Merseyside, and 11 from Cheshire.

You'll no doubt have noticed that some constituencies have been talked about a lot more than others during the election campaign.

A lot of constituencies, including many on Merseyside and in Greater Manchester, rarely if ever change hands.

So the party bosses concentrate their time and resources on those which they think are genuinely up for grabs - the marginals.

We've got a couple of dozen or so here in the North West and the chances are that if you live in one of them you'll have seen a lot of leaflets, Facebook ads, and maybe even some candidates knocking on your front door in recent weeks.

No expense spared here at MediaCityUK

I know our esteemed colleagues in London pride themselves on their snazzy 3D graphics on election night.

Here in the North West we prefer to keep things old skool...

Whiteboard containing a list of all the North West seats
BBC
Our high-tech general election scoreboard

Sincere thanks to the gaffer for shelling out on not one but two dry wiper pens in suitably festive colours.

With 69 seats across Cheshire, Greater Manchester, Lancashire and Merseyside for us to keep tabs on, having this board will be invaluable!

Traffic disruption after Mersey Gateway crash

The Mersey Gateway Bridge has reopened after an earlier accident, but there are long queues in the area.

No-one was injured in the crash, which happened just after 07:00 and involved a lorry and a van, police said.

The bridge road heading in the direction of Liverpool was closed for several hours.

HS2: For and against

HS2 is an important part of Crewe's future, or at least it could be if it gets the go-ahead.

Parties are split: Labour and the Lib Dems would press ahead with high-speed rail while the Greens and Brexit Party have said they would scrap it. The Conservatives are on the fence while they wait for an independent review to be published.

HS2
BBC

Graham Dellow, from the Mid Cheshire Against HS2 campaign group, and Paul Coleman, from the South Cheshire Chambers of Commerce are on opposite sides of the argument.

Mr Dellow says HS2 is just an expensive "duplication of an existing railway that does the job" and thinks it will be a "disaster" if whichever party gets into power continues with the project.

Mr Coleman on the other hand thinks it's important to improve connectivity for the North and people and businesses will last for over 100 years - he also believes the prospect of HS2 is already bringing businesses to the area.

Conservatives 'hedging their bets' when it comes to HS2

Chris Mason

Political Correspondent

Plans for HS2, and whether it will come to Crewe, are up in the air and strikingly for the party that has been in the lead, the Conservatives are not yet fully committed to it.

They're certainly not fully committed to the full extent of it, running as far as Leeds.

The governing party seems to be hedging their bets.

HS2
Getty Images

I asked Transport Secretary Grant Shapps whether the party is doing this for political reasons, so they can appeal to people who like the idea of high speed rail as well as those who don't like the idea.

The government says no, that they commissioned a review which they will examine if they get into power at the end of this week.

Brexit: 'We need to move out of no man's land'

BBC Business News

BBC Business reporter Egon Cossou has been reporting live from Crewe this afternoon.

He spoke to Nick Hilton, managing director of Fayrefield Foods, which describes itself as one of the UK’s largest independent dairy companies.

Its huge 75,000 sq ft warehouse in Crewe sends out mainly cheese and butter not only across the UK, but to more than 30 countries. The firm also imports heavily from Ireland.

Nick Hilton
BBC

Mr Hitlon called for "clarity" over Brexit and for a long-term trade deal to be in place "as fast as possible".

"We just need to get this done and move out of no man's land," he said.

"In the event of a hard deal what we would hope for as part of a settlement going forward that we carry on with tariff-free access [import and export to Europe]."

It seems to me in Westminster they dwell upon banking, finance, car factories, etc, and here in food products, particularly agricultural products you have to shout fairly loud to make your voice heard."

Nick HiltonManaging Director, Fayrefield Foods

For many, buses are bigger concern than trains

Tom Burridge

Transport correspondent, BBC News

Just over 1% of people in northern England get a train on a daily basis - something it's hoped projects such as Northern Powerhouse Rail will change.

The £40bn project, which should begin in five years, will see improvements on railway lines across the north of England from Crewe to Newcastle as well as a faster link between Manchester and Leeds.

Northern Powerhouse Rail
BBC

In Crewe, where there's uncertainty about whether it will be an important stop on the HS2 route, buses are a more immediate concern for many people.

"No buses means isolation," said Carol Jones, who campaigns for the Crewe Bus Users group.

"It's alright having a car, but there's a lot of people who haven't got that," she said. "They've just got a bus."

All the main parties have promised more money for buses.

More: Election 2019: Crewe and Nantwich in focus

Why is less money spent on public transport in the North?

Faisal Islam

BBC Economics Editor

There's a big disparity on government spending per head depending on where you live in the UK.

When it comes to trains, about £843 is spent per passenger in London each year compared to £240 in north-west England and as little as £130 in parts of Yorkshire and the North East.

London tube train
Getty Images
Transport spending is concentrated in London and the South East

It's a self-fulfilling prophecy, as the Treasury looks at where passengers are and targets money there, creating a giant circle where funds are re-invested in the same areas.

The end result of that, especially when you look at local transport, is best shown when compared to other countries - you will find underground train systems in the six biggest cities in Spain, but no such systems in big UK cities like Birmingham and Manchester.

More:Election 2019: Crewe and Nantwich in focus

Election battleground: Crewe & Nantwich

As politicians campaign for votes, we will be looking closely at the places where the election could be won or lost.

Crewe and Nantwich are two towns in one constituency in the county of Cheshire.

They are divided by two political parties: Crewe traditionally votes Labour, while Nantwich traditionally votes for the Conservatives.

The BBC's political reporter for Cheshire Phil McCann is in the county, asking people their view on the upcoming election.

Austerity 'devastating' for young people with disabilities

BBC Radio Stoke

The effect of austerity cuts on young people with disabilities has been "absolutely devastating" according to a charity in Crewe.

Ian Chalmers runs Hopes and Beams in the town, which helps young disabled people and the elderly.

Therapist helping teenage girl with learning difficulties during child therapy. Top view hand detail of a therapist with patient. - stock photo
Getty Images

“I work with lots of families with special needs children and it affects the whole family," he said.

"It pervades everything that they do is very stressful, they have to fight for every single thing for their child and often provision is just not given."

“Whatever political party gets in power, there’s got to be systematic change as the only way for things to progress,” he said.

East Cheshire backed Leave in EU referendum

One of the biggest issues at the polls is inevitably Brexit and it could be fertile ground for Leave supporting parties in Crewe.

Crewe and Nantwich comes under Cheshire East Council, which counted the votes in the EU Referendum in 2016.

In total, 113,163 voted to Leave while 107,962 backed Remain.

Cheshire East results
BBC

But according to research by Dr Chris Hanretty at the University of East Anglia, Crewe and Nantwich even more forcefully backed Brexit in 2016.

Although Cheshire East Council did not release results by constituency, Dr Hanratty estimated 60.3% of people in Crewe and Nantwich voted in favour of Leave, based on a research model of constituencies.

The big issues for Crewe: Jobs, schools and transport

Phil McCann

Cheshire Political Reporter, BBC News

There have been billions and billions of pounds of cuts over the last nine, nearly 10 years now.

Councils have really born the brunt of it and that’s meant things like libraries closing and bus services being cut back.

Here in Cheshire East there are far fewer buses in the evenings and on Sundays.

Crewe bus station
BBC

However Crewe is, economically, a successful place.

There are lots of jobs that are available. More jobs are being created but often they are low paid and insecure, like zero-hour contracts. People are now working but are in in-work poverty.

School funding is also a huge issue here that led to protests in Nantwich at the last election two years ago.

'If HS2 doesn't come to Crewe, what then?'

Rebecca Woods

BBC News

Ian Smyth, Mick Cartwright and Neil Jones
BBC

Crewe and Nantwich is one of the UK's most marginal constituencies, with Labour taking the seat from the Conservatives in 2017 by just 48 votes.

With days to go until another general election, what issues are firing up voters?

Your questions answered: Minimum wage

Gemma runs a domestic cleaning company in Crewe and is concerned that an increase in minimum wage will mean she will struggle to employ more people.

She wanted to know what the main political parties are promising when it comes to a national minimum wage.

Money in purse, generic
Getty Images

All the parties plan to increase minimum wage to £10 an hour according to Faisal Islam, the BBC's economics editor.

The Conservatives say they will phase this in gradually reaching that wage by 2024 for workers over 21, which represents about 4 million people.

Labour will bring the policy in much sooner if elected - aiming to raise the minimum wage by April 2020. They'll also roll it out to all workers, including 16-20-year-olds, which would be about six-and-a-half million workers.

Want to know if the minimum wage is enough to live on? Read this report from the BBC's personal finance reporter.

Election battleground: Crewe & Nantwich
Two towns, one constituency. Traditionally, one votes Labour, the other Conservative but will Brexit change that?
Morpurgo's Christmas (fire) cracker
A behind-the-scenes look at the making of the yuletide offering from children's author, Sir Michael Morpurgo.

Football's 'integrity at stake' over Macclesfield game

Graham McGarry

Crewe Alexandra commentator, BBC Radio Stoke

Crewe Alexandra manager David Artell says the "integrity" of football is at stake as Macclesfield Town players decide whether they will fulfil tomorrow's fixture against the Alex.

A mosaic at Macclesfield Town
Getty Images

Macclesfield's unpaid players say they will not play as their emotional and mental wellbeing is at "rock bottom".

As of Wednesday evening, staff and players' wages remain unpaid, following last month's late payments.

The EFL says it "fully understands" the players' position but the club will face disciplinary action if the game isn't played tomorrow.

No haircut for skipper until goal drought ends

Graham McGarry

Crewe Alexandra commentator, BBC Radio Stoke

Crewe Alexandra captain Perry Ng says he won't have a haircut until he scores his first goal of the season.

Perry Ng's hair earlier this month
Getty Images

The defender's yet to hit the back of the net in his 25 appearances for the Alex so far.

I'm hating it at the minute, getting some stick off everyone. I've always wanted to grow it to be honest but the lads have given me a little bit of a bet and said I'm not going to cut it until I score so I've just got to stick with it and hopefully I can get one soon."

Perry NgCrewe Alexandra captain

He'll be hoping it's not as long as Tom Huddlestone when he was at Hull as he didn't cut his hair for nearly three years until he scored again in 2014.

Badger baiting suspects hunted by RSPCA

Lee Thomas

Newsreader, BBC Radio Stoke

Police are looking for four men suspected of badger baiting after a dog walker spotted them acting suspiciously with dogs.

Image of the suspects
RSPCA

They were seen on land off Audley Road, near Alsager Park, Cheshire, on 19 November, the RSPCA said.

The dog walker saw them digging in an area where there was a badger sett and they ran off when he shouted at them, reports say.

The RSPCA's released still images of the four suspects who they want to identify.

Cluttered windscreen 'stopped driver seeing M6 ahead'

Allen Cook

BBC News

A lorry driver's been fined after driving on the M6 with a windscreen so cluttered, they couldn't clearly see the motorway ahead, police have said.

Inside the vehicle's cab
Cheshire Police

They tweeted this photo of the inside of the HGV's cab, saying it was stopped at Sandbach, in Cheshire.

The force said the accessories on the windscreen also prevented a clear view of the front mirror.

People, cats and ferrets rescued from house blaze

Lee Thomas

Newsreader, BBC Radio Stoke

Two people, cats and ferrets have been rescued from a house fire.

West Street, Crewe
Google

The blaze was on West Street, Crewe, yesterday evening, the fire service said.

It added that police officers had already arrived by the time its crews got there and rescued the two people inside, although they haven't revealed their injuries.

Two firefighters then went in and rescued several cats and ferrets trapped inside.

'Hot chocolate' lorry fire road reopens

The A556 in Cheshire has fully reopened after a lorry carrying a load of chocolate burst into flames.

Lorry fire
Cheshire Fire Service
Lorry fire
Cheshire Fire Service

The road closed in both directions after fire broke out at about 20:00 on Thursday.

North West Motorway Police said the driver was "safe and well".

Lorry fire
Cheshire Fire Service

Some people tweeted their chocolate-related puns once it was clear the driver was safe, with the fire service describing the job as "hot chocolate".

Beechmere fire: Residents set to get £60k donated cash

Phil McCann

Cheshire Political Reporter, BBC News

Residents who lost their homes in a fire at a retirement complex in August are a step closer to getting a share of nearly £60,000 raised for them.

Remains of complex after fire
Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service

Apartments at Beechmere, Crewe, were destroyed in a blaze which left 150 mainly older people homeless.

The donations are being held by the town council which last night voted to transfer the cash to landlord Your Housing.

The move will be subject to a written agreement which stipulates the cash will be divided equally between the residents.