Strategic Transport Forum provides platform for infrastructure innovation

Proposals were discussed on February 12 at the inaugural meeting of the alliance’s Strategic Transport Forum – the body that represents partners including Oxfordshire County Council and is tasked with bringing about the changes and attracting the investment to realise these ambitions. 

The Forum includes representatives of eight local transport authorities, five local enterprise partnerships, the Department for Transport, Highways England, Network Rail, bus operators and the Civil Engineering Contractors Association.

Councillor Rodney Rose, deputy leader of Oxfordshire County Council said:  “For a long time we have recognised the need to work closely with our neighbours to encourage government and business to invest in the area, providing the necessary infrastructure to unlock the potential of our county. 

“This is still early days and so actual schemes have not been agreed but we know that the transport corridor between us and Cambridgeshire is important nationally and we want to work with government to support the development of those transport links. 

I am very pleased to see how positively the private sector have engaged with this project and I look forward to it delivering significant benefits to England’s Economic Heartland.”

What did the Forum decide?

The Forum agreed to develop an overall transport strategy for the England’s Economic Heartland area as well as work-up proposals for a major road network for the region.

An efficient major roads network is seen as the key system that would support economic activity and could form the basis for identifying future investment priorities.

The network would be comprised of routes that would bring benefits to the England’s Economic Heartland area as a whole, rather than the traditional road network which is either of national importance or significant at a county level.

The forum also discussed and agreed on a proposal to collaborate with the construction industry on a joint procurement proposal, which would see local authorities working together, pooling resources and reducing costs.

Cllr Jim Harker, chairman of the Strategic Transport Forum and leader of Northamptonshire County Council, said: “Members of England’s Economic Heartland have a shared goal of creating the necessary conditions to bring about accelerated economic growth in the region and believe that this can only be achieved by working collaboratively.

“The Strategic Transport Forum gives us the ability to have a platform from which we can talk with Government – we want to continue to make the case for further investment in our transport networks.

“Strategic transport planning gives us the opportunity to plan more efficiently and to work with the private sector to secure the investment we need to continue to realise our economic potential.”

What are the economic benefits?

Creating an efficient transport network is seen as the cornerstone of boosting economic growth in the England’s Economic Heartland area, an economy worth £92.5bn.  Already home to more than 175,000 businesses and 1,640,000 jobs, investment in England’s Economic Heartland generates 40 per cent higher return than anywhere else outside of London.

Continued investment in England’s Economic Heartland is needed to help close the productivity gap with the UK’s global competitors and to ensure the area remains economically competitive.