Investment in transport links in UK cities are a welcome boost, claim Greater Brighton leaders – though they warn the Chancellor could, and perhaps should, have done more to improve South East infrastructure.
Following the budget yesterday (Wednesday November 22), Councillor Andy Smith, chairman of Greater Brighton Economic Board, which represents nearly one million people and more than 35,000 businesses, welcomed the announcement of a £1.7 billion transport investment fund for UK city regions.
However, with half of this restricted to the devolved combined authorities – most of whom are in the Midlands and North, Cllr Smith said more was needed to bring about lasting change to transport links across the Greater Brighton region.
Cllr Smith said: “While it is great to see the Chancellor’s support for devolution and the City Regions, it is disappointing that half of the £1.7 billion transport investment is restricted largely to the Midlands and the North.
“Anyone who has used our over-stretched and unreliable rail system in recent years will know how much it is damaging business and restricting growth across our area. The same can be said for our congested highways, with the A27, A23 and A259 reducing productivity among our hundreds of thousands of workers.
“Greater Brighton look forward to being able to look in detail at how to access the remaining £850 million. And we will continue to campaign and lobby for improvements to the Brighton Mainline, as well as the A23 and A27.”
The issues of a congested road and rail networks which are hampering growth across the Greater Brighton region were raised with leading Government officials in September. Whitehall officials were informed it currently takes more than two hours to get to Heathrow Airport by train and over 80 minutes to travel 34 miles to Guildford from the City Region.
Further research shows more than 35,000 people currently travel between Greater Brighton and Gatwick/Central London every day showing a reliance on north-south links. There is also a high number of people that rely on key transport links for jobs, with 2011 Census figures showing 32% of Lewes-based workers and 33% of Adur workers commuting to Brighton & Hove.
With the population increasing by 98,000 and 48,000 jobs being created by 2030, Greater Brighton leaders believe now is the right time for the government to invest.
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