EXCITING plans to regenerate Runcorn and transform Widnes waterfront have been unveiled by Halton Council’s leader.

Clr Rob Polhill is confident 2014 will see private companies invest millions in new jobs, new businesses, new homes and new opportunites.

The former 6.3 acre Crosville site facing The Brindley in Runcorn is set to become a retail and leisure development.

A new gym, fastfood outlets and a warehouse are set to be built on land opposite the £10m Hive leisure park in Widnes.

Work starts soon on the £600m Mersey Gateway and the Government has pledged £30m to develop computer technology at the world leading Daresbury Sci Tech site.

Clr Polhill said: “Optimism has gripped the imagination of developers and investors in Halton. This is good news for us and the people of Runcorn and Widnes.

“The bridge and Daresbury will bring hundreds of jobs all kinds looking for skills from construction to white collar workers.

“We intend to clear the Crosville site in the next few weeks. We are hoping work will start on site in the summer which should kick-start the rest of the planned development.

“We have been working very hard to promote Runcorn. We have been constantly talking to developers and believe the town and its waterways are a hidden gem with great potential.”

Amid the growth, he said Halton Council faces tough challenges with £15m of budget cuts this year and £17m the year after.

He said: “Since the Coalition Government came in, we will have lost 53 per cent of our budget.

“We are in a deprived area and have been hit really hard.

“We are still committed to people who depend on us. When people work for the council, they have a sense of pride.

“They seem to rally round. It is like a war-time effort. They go the extra mile and I really do appreciate what they are all doing for us.”