England's Economic Heartland fighting for better transport links to unlock future economic growth

  |  Published: Aug 6th 2015
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Creating better road and rail links and easier inter-county travel in a £2.8bn infrastructure investment are the focus of an innovative transport proposition 'England’s Economic Heartland'  (EEH) has presented to government.

The EEH Alliance between Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Northamptonshire together with their Local Enterprise Partnerships advocates the importance of investment in five strategic transport corridors to realising ambitions for growth locally and nationally – including the A34/43/45 artery, and the A428/A421 Expressway corridor. 

The Alliance believes that an efficient transport system that supports smart mobility within the three counties is central to improving productivity, attracting private sector investment and accelerating economic growth.

The proposal sets out ambitions for how public transport providers could work more cohesively across the three counties and how emerging internet and smartphone technology could empower travellers in their choices.

Although some of the proposals, such as smart-ticketing, may have already been implemented in global cities it is believed that this is the first time they would be applied to shire counties.

It would be made possible through the counties working in unison and creating the critical mass of population essential for such initiatives to become feasible.

Martin Tett, Leader of Buckinghamshire County Council said, “England's Economic Heartland competes globally. To ensure our businesses thrive and continue to contribute to national prosperity, first class transport and infrastructure is essential. We are confident we can deliver 135,000 new jobs by 2020 if Government matches the ambition of our local business, LEPs and councils and invests in success."

Cllr Jim Harker OBE, Leader of Northamptonshire County Council, which leads on transport issues on behalf of the Alliance, said: “Our transport proposition will completely redefine the way that people think about travelling in non-metropolitan Britain and indeed how public sector and private sector collaborate on infrastructure projects.

“In order to facilitate future economic growth in the England’s Economic Heartland area it’s essential that the right infrastructure is in place and we will use the Spending Review this autumn to press the case for continued investment in our transport infrastructure

“Without the right infrastructure and the ability for people, goods and services to move easily around the sub-region growth will be prohibited as the existing network would become gridlocked.

“Working with other counties also achieves economies of scale which just aren’t possible with local authorities working alone and efficiencies can be driven quite easily, simply by joining up and avoiding duplication.”

Other proposals that form the proposition include expanding the innovative approaches to delivery that have been pioneered by the partners and which bring public bodies, private sector developers and contractors together to deliver infrastructure projects.

Ideas for collaborative blue-light services and an integrated car parking and enforcement scheme across the sub-region are also outlined in the document being proposed to government.

Overall, the growing devolution agenda nationally has provided the platform for this new approach and England’s Economic Heartland wants Government to provide the area with a five-year Growth Deal that will provide greater certainty of funding allowing the partners to deliver the proposition.

This certainty would give confidence for businesses to invest in the area and give England’s Economic Heartland a competitive advantage on the world stage. Already with a £46.6bn economy, England’s Economic Heartland, seeks to swell growth by a further £9bn each year.

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