Midlands Connect welcomes legislation for region-wide transport bodies…
Midlands Connect, the partnership tasked with developing a transport blueprint to unlock economic growth and jobs, today (January 28) welcomed new legislation that could see it given formal powers over strategic schemes and investment.
The partnership said the new Cities and Local Government Devolution Act, which enables Sub-National Transport Bodies to be set up in those areas of England that want them, offered major opportunities for the Midlands.
The announcement on Sub-National Transport Bodies paves the way for the existing Midlands Connect Partnership, which includes local authorities, Local Enterprise Partnerships, central Government and delivery agencies like Network Rail and Highways England, to move to a formal, statutory status.
Midlands Connect board member Cllr Anne Western, who is also leader of Derbyshire County Council, said such a move could strengthen the partnership’s work in developing a region-wide transport strategy to drive the economy and power the Government’s vision of a ‘Midlands Engine’.
“The passing of this legislation gives the Midlands an opportunity to have greater control and influence over investment and should be warmly welcomed,” she said.
“Our existing Midlands Connect partnership is already a strong one and is making great progress in drawing up the transport strategy needed to release untapped growth across our region.
“Having a Sub-National Transport Body could bring the relevant parties together on a formal footing to develop that strategy, making it even more co-ordinated and effective.”
Cllr Western said Midlands Connect was now keen to sit down with Government to explore the options opened up by the new legislation.
Transport Minister Andrew Jones said: “This is a major step forward for devolution, giving local people a say in transport for their area.
“The potential to give Midlands Connect statutory status will ensure it has impact, influence, and the certainty to plan and drive forward its transport strategy, which is a vital part of the Midlands Engine for Growth.”
Midlands Connect is in the process of identifying the road, rail and other transport improvements needed to unlock growth and jobs and maximise the benefits of the forthcoming HS2 high speed rail line.
The strategy is also needed because constraints on the region’s existing road and rail networks are making Midland businesses less competitive.
Research has shown that speeding journey times up across the Midlands by 20 per cent can boost the region’s economy by more than £1 billion a year, create an additional 300,000 jobs and save businesses nearly £500 million a year.
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