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Investment in East Midlands takes centre stage at Westminster event

The future prosperity of the East Midlands has been discussed by MPs and Whitehall officials at a Transport for the East Midlands event in Westminster.

Regional leaders from local authorities and transport bodies have been working together to voice concerns that a lack of investment in the region’s transport infrastructure is preventing its businesses and communities from achieving their growth potential.

The event, hosted by Co-Chairs of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for the East Midlands, Nigel Mills MP and Alex Norris MP, brought decision makers together with regional businesses to hear about key transport schemes where government funding decisions are imminent.

They include proposals to electrify the final stretch of the Midland Mainline into the East Midlands – the main rail link between Derby, Chesterfield, Nottingham, Leicester and London – where major economic benefits were highlighted in a recent report, The Future’s Electric.

Transformational plans for the A46 Newark Bypass were also highlighted, with the final section of the link between the M1 in Leicestershire and the A1 in Nottinghamshire set to be turned from single to dual carriageway, overcoming congestion problems, improving safety and enabling planned economic growth in the area.

The Westminster gathering also heard about an inquiry carried out by the APPG itself into the wider social and economic benefits of infrastructure investment in the East Midlands.

Their report calls for greater certainty on the delivery of major infrastructure projects in the region in the wake of the cancellation of HS2 to the East Midlands and the Government’s publication instead of ‘Network North’. Its five recommendations include:

  • Support investors by giving them long-term certainty about the delivery of infrastructure.
  • Help inform investment decisions by adopting a common method for describing the benefits.
  • Ensure the region’s economic resilience through a better balance between building new infrastructure and investing in what we’ve got.
  • Encourage greater collaboration between public and private sector so the full benefits of infrastructure investment can be achieved.
  • Establish a credible pipeline of regional infrastructure which supports regional priorities and ensures skilled, trained workers are available to deliver projects.

Businesses from across the region, council leaders and other economic stakeholders attended the event, which was also told about the findings from two recent studies about the A1 in the region by Midlands Connect and Transport for the East Midlands that highlight the financial and safety implications of substandard investment for businesses and road users.

Nigel Mills MP, East Midlands APPG Co-Chair, said: “The East Midlands has a robust and innovative economy. However GDP and productivity per head of population are below the UK average and our region continues to be under-invested relative to the UK average across a range of functions, most notably transport.

“Improving and maintaining our region’s infrastructure is critical to achieving the levelling up agenda and the transition to net zero. The crucial relationship between infrastructure investment and local activity to create more prosperous and inclusive economies is clear, and this event has brought this to the forefront of decision-makers’ minds to make sure our region realises its true potential sooner rather than later.”

Alex Norris MP, East Midlands APPG Co-Chair, said: “We have been concerned for some time about the lack of investment in the East Midlands and what this means for our communities and businesses.

“Whilst our region has a resilient economy and a rapidly growing population, we also have falling productivity, low graduate retention and poor social mobility. We believe there is a clear link between investment in economic infrastructure like transport, energy, water, waste treatment, flood defences and digital, and the wider social and economic challenges facing the East Midlands.”

Sir Peter Soulsby, Chair of Transport for the East Midlands and elected Mayor of Leicester, added: “Our region is full of great businesses and ambitious communities, ready to respond to the important challenge of raising growth in the UK.

“However, we need the tools to deliver that growth. The Government needs to unleash our potential by signing off a series of major projects, ready to go, that we know will transform our transport infrastructure and deliver strong returns not just for the East Midlands, but for the UK.”

The Westminster event is being supported by law firm Browne Jacobson and East Midlands Railway.

Peter Ware, Head of Government practice at Browne Jacobson, said: “It’s critically important that the East Midlands makes the case for investment as it has a very strong story to tell around industries that contribute to international trade and infrastructure initiatives that can really power-up the region’s contribution to UK growth.

“We know from the work that we do across the region that our public bodies have huge ambitions for progress, and we’re delighted to support this event.”

Will Rogers, Managing Director of East Midlands Railway, added: “We connect the East Midlands to the capital every day and are committed to improving services for the communities that we serve. In order to achieve this, there needs to be greater collaboration between public and private sector infrastructure providers.

“Long-term certainty about the delivery of major investment is needed, which will unlock opportunities that pave the way for growth across our region.”

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