Marches LEP joins cross-border transport investment call
Marches LEP, Shropshire Council, Herefordshire Council and Powys Council have joined Midlands Connect in their follow up submission to the Union Connectivity Review – with Sir Peter Hendy at the helm – to call for a joined-up plan for cross-border investment which they have all deemed as ‘critical’.
In their letter they state ‘These corridors have fallen through cracks in previous investment rounds due to the problems of differing authorities and policies either side of the border. We must ensure that this doesn’t happen again in this area where rurality also hinders the investment programme. To overcome this we are working together to highlight the economic significance well connected infrastructure can bring and embrace the opportunity for investment in this region. This will only happen if partners across the border commit to working with Government to achieve this.’
They go on to say ‘In light of the above, we seek your support in ensuring the proposed Pan-UK Strategic Transport Network includes the Mid-Wales/Midlands strategic corridors set out in this letter.’
The group has urged the review panel to look at the following road links in the full review between Mid-Wales and the Midlands:
· The A5, A458 and the A483 corridor (which includes the recently announced Pant Llanymynech Bypass) providing a key economic corridor across the border, essential to Oswestry, Shrewsbury and neighbouring towns in Wales such as Welshpool and Newtown
· Consider the international connections and access to Holyhead in addition the A41 with its connections to the A55.
· The A49 which provides an essential north-south spine road for both freight and passengers through the Marches region, which many residents and businesses from both sides of the border depend on for local, regional and national movements. We are keen to see national support for measures which could address congestion along this corridor, particularly for Hereford where the local authority is keen to progress a transport strategy which takes carbon reduction seriously, whilst also acknowledging the needs of businesses.
· The A44 and the A438 between Worcestershire and Mid Wales via Herefordshire.
And on rail projects they have called on the government to look at the following links between Mid-Wales and the Midlands:
· The line between Cardiff and Newport in South Wales to Chester/Crewe in North West England via Hereford and Shrewsbury;
· The Shrewsbury to Birmingham Line via Wolverhampton and Telford;
· The Cambrian Line from Shrewsbury to Aberystwyth via Newtown;
· The Heart of Wales Line from Shrewsbury via Craven Arms to Swansea.
A “Union Connectivity Review” by Sir Peter Hendy, the Network Rail chairman, is expected to be published by July, and is believed to recommend higher capacity and improved journey times on train travel between England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Commenting on the letter, Midlands Connect CEO Maria Machancoses said:
“We wanted to write to Sir Peter after the release of the interim report on the Union Connectivity Review. The report is testament to the depth of work that his team has undertaken and what was delivered in such a short timeframe was deeply impressive. We wholeheartedly welcome the stress placed on the importance of East-West Connectivity and access to the emerging freeports.
“We hope that we can make the case to include some of these critical schemes into the final report and we look forward to doing that in the days ahead.”
Mandy Thorn, chair of the Marches Local Enterprise Partnership, said high-quality cross-border transport connectivity was vital for the economy of the whole area. She said:
“The Marches LEP shares more than 100 miles of border with Wales, and it is essential that we have modern, efficient transport links in place which help the economies either side of it to grow and prosper.
“These transport links are the economic arteries of our region and we must ensure that they receive the necessary investment to be able to fulfil that strategic role. There is an urgent need to level-up connectivity and ensure that all areas have access to infrastructure which supports and promotes growth.”