England’s Economic Heartland set to expand as it reaches first birthday
Date Added: 29/12/2015
England’s Economic Heartland – a pioneering alliance which aims to boost prosperity through co-ordinating investment in infrastructure and service delivery – is set to expand.
It is almost 12 months since the forming of original Strategic Alliance between Buckinghamshire, Northamptonshire and Oxfordshire was celebrated on the winner’s podium at Silverstone.
One year on, the founding partners were back at the world-renowned circuit to welcome Cambridgeshire along with the unitary authorities of Central Bedfordshire, Milton Keynes, Luton and Bedford.
England’s Economic Heartland has already submitted its transport proposition to government to illustrate how working together on transport and infrastructure projects could bring accelerated economic growth.
The Alliance has also set up a Strategic Transport Forum, which will regularly meet from February 2016, to develop the transport strategy and provide the leadership that will realise these changes.
The Forum also now includes SEMLEP (South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership), which has joined Oxfordshire, Northamptonshire and Buckinghamshire Thames Valley local enterprise partnerships.
The news of the expansion comes as the government outlines plans for more devolved powers for transport and infrastructure under what are being called sub-national transport bodies.
Cllr Jim Harker, chairman of the Strategic Transport Forum and leader of Northamptonshire County Council, said: “This is a significant step for the Strategic Alliance. All of the partners recognise that strategic transport planning gives us the opportunity to plan more efficiently and to secure the investment we need to continue to exploit our economic potential.
“The transport networks across England’s Economic Heartland are critical to the continued economic success of an area that generates a return to the Exchequer; they are also are the arteries along which the lifeblood of much of the UK economy flows.
“Our economic success brings with it many challenges – increased congestion affects both businesses and residents alike.
“It is absolutely essential that we continue to make the case for investment in our networks and our services. The Strategic Transport Forum gives us the ability to have a new dialogue with government. I am determined to ensure that our voice is heard alongside the rest of the UK.”
Cllr James Jamieson, Leader of Central Bedfordshire Council, said: “We believe that it is really important to work with our neighbours and partners to deliver vital transport networks.
“A better transport network increases our opportunity for economic growth and joining England’s Economic Heartland provides Central Bedfordshire Council with a fantastic opportunity to make the most of this potential."
Creating an efficient transport network is seen as the cornerstone of boosting economic growth as it can reduce costs for businesses and attract new private sector investment.
The Strategic Alliance partners have identified how investment in infrastructure can boost the economy by 20 per cent - generating an additional £10billion per annum.
Investing in success will also help close the productivity gap with the UK’s competitors in the global market-place.