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East Midlands Chamber News

It's time to level up transport funding in the East Midlands, says TfEM

Council leaders, MPs and business leaders are calling on the Chancellor to use his forthcoming spending review to level up transport funding, create jobs and boost trade. 

The spending review submission made by Transport for the East Midlands (TfEM) ahead of the Autumn budget on 27 October highlights “shovel-ready” schemes that could be delivered quickly if Rishi Sunak releases funding,

It has also called for him to make a commitment to longer-term projects in order for them to progress.

In the submission, TfEM highlights the Treasury’s own figures that have consistently shown the East Midlands is the lowest-funded region per head for transport of any UK region or nation. 

The latest data published in July 2021 confirmed funding has declined over the last 20 years to just 58% of the UK average.

If the East Midlands was funded at the same level as the UK average, the region would have an extra £1bn to spend on transport every year.

Sir Peter Soulsby, chair of TfEM and City Mayor of Leicester, said: “The figures show that transport investment in the East Midlands has been declining over the last 20 years under governments of all parties.

“It is time we turned the tide. This spending review presents an opportunity for the Chancellor to prove that ‘levelling up’ is not just a slogan, and to invest in the future of the East Midlands.

“Our submission sets out a series of investment opportunities that will make a real difference to our businesses and communities – and also help the country as a whole to recover from the pandemic.”

‘Shovel-ready’ schemes highlighted in the East Midlands

The “shovel-ready” schemes highlighted by TfEM include the A46 northern bypass at Newark, the Chesterfield-Staveley regeneration route and improvements to the Nottingham-Lincoln rail line.

There will be transport-focused Levelling Up Fund bids for projects at Leicester railway station, the South Derby Growth Zone, a stretch of the A16 from Boston to Spalding, and the Robin Hood Line extension.

It also wants to see investment commitments to the HS2 Eastern Leg, Midland Main Line electrification, phase one of the Access to Toton project, improvements at Junction 25 of the M1 at its connection with the A52 and the A1 between Blyth and Peterborough, and enhancements to Nottingham-Leicester-Coventry rail connections and Leicester rail capacity.

Chamber backs TfEM spending review submission

Chris Hobson, director of policy and external engagement at East Midlands Chamber, backed the spending review submission.

He said: “Poor transport is consistently highlighted by our businesses as a major inhibitor of growth, so it is very disappointing to see that the East Midlands remains at the bottom of the league table for transport investment.

The A46 is a critical route for many of our manufacturing and logistics firms. The Newark northern bypass will benefit businesses across the East Midlands and as far north as the Humber Ports, and it must be delivered as soon as possible.”

Amber Valley MP Nigel Mills, co-chair of the East Midlands All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG), said: “The East Midlands APPG continues to highlight to Westminster and Whitehall the lack of transport investment across the region, and the economic and social consequences.

“But we need to do more. This spending review represents a real opportunity for the East Midlands. 

“I hope that MPs from all parties across can support the TfEM submission and will continue to make the case for investment to Minsters right up to the 27 October announcement.”

Lilian Greenwood, MP for Nottingham South, said: "We all know that the East Midlands has got a poor deal on transport for many years, which has cost jobs and undermined opportunities for our constituents.

“Continual delays and changes of policy by Government on big ticket items like Midlands Main Line electrification and HS2 have only made things worse.

“The people and businesses of the East Midlands deserve better, and this spending review must represent a turning point."

Elaine Clark, chief executive of Rail Forum Midlands (RFM), which represents the region’s rail supply chain companies, said: “What our world-beating rail supply chain companies need is certainty from Government about future investment. 

“The forthcoming Integrated Rail Plan must set out a clear timetable for the delivery of the HS2 to the East Midlands and beyond. 

“But there are also improvements to the conventional rail network that would make rail travel for more attractive to both people and freight in the shorter term, and which would also support local supply chain jobs and kickstart rail’s journey towards net zero.”

Councillor Richard Davies, vice-chair of TfEM and transport lead for Lincolnshire County Council, added: “Improving rail links to the Lincoln and the Lincolnshire coast is vital to our visitor economy, which took a real hammering during the pandemic.

“But for the agri-food industry across the region, reliable road links are needed to maintain supply chains and keep food on the supermarket shelves. 

“The A16 in Lincolnshire plays a vital role in this respect.  The A1 is also a national route for freight more generally, but the section in the East Midlands is in need of major investment.”