Transport strategy to power Midlands Engine given £12 million boost by government
Midlands Connect received a major vote of confidence today (Monday October 3) as the Government announced a further £12 million for its work in developing the transport links needed to power the Midlands Engine.
The funding from the Department for Transport comes as Midlands Connect continues to prepare a regional transport strategy that will drive growth and exports and help secure a vibrant, post-Brexit UK economy.
Sir John Peace, chair of Midlands Connect and Midlands Engine, said:
“This is a huge vote of confidence in the Midlands and in Midlands Connect.
“The funds will be used for the critical work of developing transport links that will drive growth not just here in the Midlands but across the UK.
“Better transport connections in the Midlands will help unlock and unleash our huge economic potential – which will help keep the UK economy strong while we adapt to life outside of the EU.”
The three-year, £12 million funding deal was announced this morning by Transport Secretary Chris Grayling in a key note speech at the Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham.
The money will enable Midlands Connect to work on the implementation of its transport strategy after it is published in March 2017.
Andrew Cleaves, chair of the Midlands Connect Steering Group, added:
“Congestion remains a real challenge for the Midlands and that also impacts on the wider UK economy.
“To overcome that challenge and seize on opportunities like HS2, we must develop the transport links needed to quickly connect people with places and manufacturers with markets.
“Now is therefore the right time to invest heavily in critical infrastructure that will drive economic growth for generations to come. This investment announced today is crucial to that work.”
Operating as the transport component powering the Midlands Engine, the Midlands Connect partnership involves 10 Local Enterprise Partnerships, Network Rail, Highways England, HS2 Ltd, 28 local authorities and the business community. The Department for Transport is an associate member.
Its forthcoming transport strategy will set out the infrastructure and other measures needed to speed up journeys in the Midlands.
The strategy also aims to have the necessary transport infrastructure in place to reap the maximum economic benefits possible from the forthcoming HS2 high speed rail line.
With exports of £50 billion a year – 16 per cent of the UK total – the Midlands has a strong mix of high-growth industries, including logistics, advanced manufacturing and professional services. It is also the nation’s manufacturing heartland – home to a third of all UK jobs in that sector.
It is for these reasons that the Government has identified the Midlands as the UK’s ‘Engine for Growth’ and for being pivotal in the rebalancing of the UK economy as a whole.
This vision of a ‘Midlands Engine’ sets out a vibrant and growing economy focused on productivity – one that can deliver more jobs, exports and an improved quality of life. It is driven by getting the most out of the Midlands’ workforce, research and transport.
The long-term strategic transport plan being developed by Midlands Connect aims to not only unlock growth and jobs but also tackle the significant transport challenges that are already impacting on the competitiveness of both the Midlands and the wider UK economy.
In March this year the Government made a commitment to put Midlands Connect on to a statutory footing by 2018, establishing it as a Sub National Transport Body overseeing pan-Midland transport policy and strategy.