Tuesday 18 December 2018
Responding to the Investment Planning Guidance for the Major Road Network, issued today by the Department for Transport, Midlands Connect Director Maria Machancoses said:
We are pleased the Department for Transport (DfT) has confirmed the important role Sub-national Transport Bodies (STBs) like Midlands Connect have in developing the Major Road Network (MRN). By filling the gap between national and local transport authorities, STBs are best placed to develop a compelling Regional Evidence Base to champion schemes with the biggest economic potential.
However, Midlands Connect is concerned that each region is being asked to submit its top 10 priority schemes, regardless of an area’s relative size, population or economic significance. This arbitrary number limits ambition and risks unnecessarily capping the potential benefits of this welcome new funding stream.
Instead, Midlands Connect is calling on the government to provide specific regional funding allocations, in line with the government’s own Rebalancing Toolkit, which was designed to ensure local schemes boost the economy across the whole country.
We have also called for a development budget to support local authorities to prepare business cases for their MRN schemes. Without this support, councils with already squeezed budgets may find it difficult to provide the evidence necessary to get a project off the ground.
We agree that formalising this middle tier of the country’s busiest and most economically important local authority ‘A’ roads, sitting between the national strategic road network and the rest of the local road network, will help reduce congestion, boost economic growth, support new housing development and future-proof the UK’s transport network.
In 2019 Midlands Connect will continue to work with local and central government, Highways England and other STBs to submit a five year programme of investment-ready schemes for the MRN, including shovel-ready proposals that could begin construction in 2020. We will also continue to make the case for greater regional influence over the scope, scale and implementation of the MRN to ensure we get a fair deal for the Midlands.
Sophie Zumbe, External Affairs