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09 July 2015

Chancellor announces Budget support for Midlands Connect

Midlands Connect, the group championing strategic transport investment across the region, has welcomed £5 million of funding announced by Chancellor George Osborne in his Budget statement.

The Chancellor is making the cash available to the Midlands Connect consortium which is pressing for better road, rail and freight links to help cement the Midlands as an ‘engine for growth’.

The group, which involves political and business leaders from across the East and West Midlands, believes far better transport connections are needed if the region is to fulfil its growth potential and help rebalance the UK economy as a whole.

Yesterday's Budget announcement includes £5 million of funding for Midlands Connect to help develop its vision and strategy for transforming transport connectivity, particularly between the east and west of the region.

Andrew Cleaves, chair of the Midlands Connect Partnership Steering Group, said: “Yesterday’s Budget statement is very encouraging and clearly shows that the Government fully recognises that a dynamic and successful Midlands is vital to the UK’s overall economic health.

But we now need to power up the ‘Midlands Engine’ which is why we have asked Mr Osborne to back a high level summit to discuss the part Government can play in securing a long term investment strategy.”

Cllr Sir Albert Bore, Leader of Birmingham City Council, and Cllr Jon Collins, Leader of Nottingham City Council, this week wrote to the Chancellor outlining the summit proposal and to express concern over the recent announcement by Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin that electrification of the Midland Main Line (MML) was to be put on hold.

In the letter they say: “In light of the recent announcement of the pausing of MML electrification, it will be even more important to set a credible long term investment strategy which can support the building of the Midlands as an Engine for Growth and sustain investor confidence.

In addition there is a pressing need to ensure the Midlands’ road and rail networks are ready for HS2, amplifying the economic gains that can be delivered by the project, starting with construction of phase 1 in 2017.

In turn, we will make sure that collectively we work to deliver a compelling case and that progressively we will align our investment and activity in support of the emerging priorities, including any future growth and devolution deals.”

The summit is pencilled in for autumn 2015 and would draw together key national and local players capable of delivering the goals of Midlands Connect.

Those already involved in Midlands Connect include local enterprise partnerships (LEPs), Network Rail, the Highways Agency, local authorities and the business community.

The campaign aims to identify areas for investment and then maximise growth potential by:

  • Developing an integrated plan for improved connectivity to HS2
  • Addressing east-west Midlands connections
  • Addressing capacity for freight movements
  • Improving connectivity to international markets via the region’s airports

Last month the government announced it would be delaying or cutting back a number of modernisation projects planned for Network Rail.

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said rising costs and missed targets in Network Rail’s investment programme meant that some schemes would have to be ‘paused’ pending a review.

This includes electrification of the Midland Main Line which links Derby, Leicester and Nottingham with London and Sheffield.  

ENDS

More information from Steve Swingler on 0121 214 7073 / mob 07887 794 241 / email; steveswingler@centro.org.uk or Mark Langford on 0121 214 7278 / mob 07824 626952 / email; marklangford@centro.org.uk

Notes to Editors:

The Engine for Growth plan was announced by the Government in February this year.

 It aims to: 

  1. Raise the long term growth rate of the Midlands to at least the forecast long term growth rate of the whole UK – adding an extra £34 billion to the Midlands economy in real terms by 2030, equivalent to over £3,000 per person.
  2. Create 300,000 extra jobs in the Midlands by backing the core strengths of the local economy like advanced manufacturing and engineering.
  3. Put skills at the heart of the economic revival of the Midlands, working with local businesses and the Local Enterprise Partnership on a new matching service for local working people and increasing skilled apprenticeships. The government is devolving power over skills, which is currently centred in Whitehall, to the Local Authorities and Local Enterprise Partnerships in the Midlands, on the condition that different areas combine together to produce a strong joint plan.
  4. Deliver £5.2 billion of investment into new transport infrastructure in the Midlands, upgrading the motorways to four lanes, delivering faster north-south rail connections and east-west links, and make the most of the economic opportunities of HS2.
  5. Back science and innovation in the Midlands, focussing on the plan for local universities to develop an Energy Research Accelerator and support new technology in the world-leading automotive sector.
  6. Improve the quality of life in the Midlands by regenerating run-down estates, investing in the county towns, supporting the construction of 30,000 new homes and making improvements to local education so 150,000 more pupils attend outstanding schools.

End of text.

Notes to Editors

East Midlands Councils is the consultative forum for local authorities in the region. It provides support to Councils to improve their services and is a strong voice for the East Midlands. www.emcouncils.gov.uk

Contacts

For further information please contact:

Andrew Pritchard, Director of Policy & Infrastructure, East Midlands Councils

Tel: 01664 502620

E-mail: andrew.pritchard@emcouncils.gov.uk 

ENDS.

All news releases from East Midlands Councils are emailed to relevant media organisations throughout the East Midlands and beyond. Please keep us up-to-date with your contact details and inform us of any changes. 

All news releases can be viewed on our website at http://www.emcouncils.gov.uk/Press-releases

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