East Midlands takes centre stage at Westminster event

Plans for the future prosperity of the East Midlands were discussed in London on Tuesday morning (20 February) at the Transport for the East Midlands event in Westminster.

Hosted by co-chairs of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for the East Midlands, Nigel Mills MP and Alex Norris MP and joined with regional businesses, attendees heard about key transport schemes where government funding decisions are imminent.

Regional leaders from local authorities and transport bodies have been working together to voice concerns that a lack of investment in the region’s transport infrastructure is preventing its businesses and communities from achieving their growth potential.

Nigel Mills MP, East Midlands APPG Co-Chair, said: “The East Midlands has a robust and innovative economy. However, GDP and productivity per head of population are below the UK average. Our region continues to be under-invested relative to the UK average across various functions, most notably transport.

“Improving and maintaining our region’s infrastructure is critical to achieving the levelling up agenda and the transition to net zero. The crucial relationship between infrastructure investment and local activity to create more prosperous and inclusive economies is clear, and this event has brought this to the forefront of decision-makers minds to make sure our region realises its true potential sooner rather than later.”

Proposals at the event included electrifying the final stretch of the Midland Mainline into the East Midlands, which is the main rail link between Derby, Chesterfield, Nottingham, Leicester and London.

Plans for the A46 Newark Bypass were also highlighted, with the final section of the link between the M1 in Leicestershire and the A1 in Nottinghamshire set to be turned from single to dual carriageway, overcoming congestion problems, improving safety and enabling planned economic growth in the area.

Wider social and economic benefits of infrastructure in the East Midlands were also touched upon, with reports showing the need for greater certainty on the delivery of major infrastructure projects in the region in the wake of the cancellation of HS2 to the East Midlands and the Government’s publication instead of ‘Network North’.

Its five recommendations included, supporting investors by giving them long-term certainty about the delivery of infrastructure, helping inform investment decisions by adopting a common method for describing the benefits, and ensuring the region’s economic resilience through a better balance between building new infrastructure and investing in what we’ve got.

Moreover, the report shows they want to encourage greater collaboration between the public and private sectors so the full benefits of infrastructure investment can be achieved and establish a credible pipeline of regional infrastructure which supports regional priorities and ensures skilled, trained workers are available to deliver projects.

Norris added: “We have been concerned for some time about the lack of investment in the East Midlands and what this means for our communities and businesses.

“Whilst our region has a resilient economy and a rapidly growing population, we also have falling productivity, low graduate retention and poor social mobility. We believe there is a clear link between investment in economic infrastructure like transport, energy, water, waste treatment, flood defences and digital, and the wider social and economic challenges facing the East Midlands.”