Greater Government support needed to deliver infrastructure growth say elected mayors
The devolved regions of the North West and West Midlands need greater support from national Government to deliver vital infrastructure requirements, the elected mayors for both areas have said.
Andy Burnham and Andy Street were speaking following the publication of the National Infrastructure Commission’s new report on the state of the UK’s transport and communication networks.
Report author Lord Adonis concluded the UK faces gridlock on its roads, railways and in the skies, together with slower mobile and broadband connections and ever-worsening air quality unless the Government tackles what he deems the ‘three Cs’.
• Congestion – as well as making progress on Heathrow, the Government has to invest in projects including HS3 and Crossrail 2, together with new and improved public transport and cycling services within the major cities;
• Capacity – as well as ensuring everyone has access to the latest digital communications technology, the priority must be building new infrastructure to support new homes and having sufficient water supply and flood protection to manage extremes of weather; and
• Carbon – as well as getting ready for electric vehicles, the country must face up to the challenge of removing carbon emissions from heating and waste, and take advantage of the falling costs of renewables in electricity generation.
Lord Adonis, chairman of the NIC, said the current creaking infrastructure risked holding back growth and a long-term plan was needed to ensure the country was fit for the future.
He said: “We have a proud history in this country of delivering world-class infrastructure – but for years funding has been squeezed, policy decisions have been erratic and the network is showing signs of age and strain.
“We risk falling behind internationally if we don’t improve our mobile and broadband connections, and residents of our great cities will suffer unless we do something to improve air quality.
“We cannot afford to sit on our hands – Ministers must act now to tackle the Three Cs if we are to have infrastructure fit for the future, supporting economic growth across the country.”
He was speaking alongside five of the country’s seven elected mayors at an event in Birmingham.
Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, said capitalising on the benefits of HS2 was vital for the long term success of the region.
“In our first Devolution Deal, we negotiated more than £6bn to invest in connectivity to HS2 and this has driven our work to drive a public transport revolution in our region,” he said.
“We have plans for new tram routes, reopening disused rail lines and stations and supercharging investment in cycling and walking.
“Clearly we need support from national Government to deliver all of our plans, while ensuring we do everything necessary to make our region greener.”
Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham said the people in the North of England had been promised a regional Powerhouse but the Government needed to deliver on its investment promises to make this a reality.
“People up here have put up with second class rail for far too long whilst our motorways and roads are gridlocked,” he said.
“The assessment from the National Infrastructure Commission underlines the clear need to invest in our cities – only by investing in our transport and other infrastructure will the great cities of the North will be able to realise their full economic potential.”