Co-ordinating strategic investment to support the Heartland’s economy could propel this global cluster firmly onto the world’s competitive stage and provide much needed resilience for the UK economy as a whole.
That’s the message in a recent response endorsed by the Heartland Strategic Alliance to the National Infrastructure Commission’s (NIC) latest consultation on developing the Cambridge – Milton Keynes – Oxford growth corridor.
The Strategic Alliance is calling for Government to make an early commitment to:
a) funding the full delivery of East West rail from Oxford to Cambridge – a transformational piece of infrastructure that is integral to supporting planned growth.
b) investing in a new East West expressway to open up areas for housing and better access to employment.
c) support the need to realise the potential of key transport interchanges as ‘hubs’ to attract investment
d) improving ‘first mile/last mile’ travel options for people to travel more efficiently.
The response also spotlights the need to invest in skills and re-training to meet identified shortages, particularly in the high growth areas of construction and engineering. Leader of Central Bedfordshire Council and Vice-Chairman of the EEH Alliance, James Jamieson said that it was vital for the government to invest in successful economies because they can still deliver so much more prosperity for local people and for the country as a whole.
“Our economy is ready for a step-change’, he said. ‘We want to work with the NIC to develop and help deliver these key improvements sooner rather than later. If we can get that certainty of investment then that, in turn, will ensure the buy-in of both the public and private sectors across the Heartland area.
‘We are very aware that east-west travel is relatively poor across the area. Places such as Oxford, Aylesbury, Milton Keynes, Peterborough and Cambridge are some of the fastest growing cities in the country and yet it’s difficult to travel between them.
Mr Jamieson added, ‘I think we and the Government are on the same page on this and the Strategic Alliance’s ambition to establish a statutory Sub-national Transport Body demonstrates our commitment to provide the strategic leadership that will enable us to deliver improvements that will benefit UK PLC as a whole.
The NIC is expected to submit its initial advice to Government later in the Autumn.