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We've submitted a £210 million bid to the Department for Transport on behalf of our local authority partners, to deliver seven transformational road schemes on the MRN.
The government has set up a £3.5 billion fund for improving the MRN from 2020-2025, alongside schemes defined as "Large Local Majors". It is vital that the Midlands receives its fair share.
We were empowered by the government to work with the 22 local authorities in our partnership to identify the highest priority upgrades and submit them for funding.
We did that by considering which schemes can be delivered by 2025 and provided evidence they will reduce congestion, support housing and employment growth, encourage more people to walk, cycle and use public transport, and provide better links to motorways and major trunk roads.
In July 2019, we submitted seven priority schemes to the government; you can read a summary here
Already, two schemes have received development funding, taking them closer to construction:
1. Funding Allocations:
It is vital that regions are given specific funding allocations for future MRN/LLM submissions, to tailor a programme that gives schemes the best chance of success.
2. Development Funding:
Local authorities with squeezed budgets find a lack of funding to develop business cases is hampering their ability to bring schemes forward. With a challenging financial landscape for local authorities likely to continue, we recommend that DfT makes funding available between 2020-2025 to allow LHAs to develop schemes ready for the next period between 2025-2030. This is particularly important for smaller councils.
3. Review the piecemeal funding approach:
Midlands Connect wants to work with other STBs to review the current five-year funding period approach to make sure we make the most of every penny invested. Like all road improvements, many MRN and LLM schemes will take longer than a five-year funding window to complete. A longer-term approach helps us all to understand the timescales, costs and risks of new schemes, and gives the construction industry more desperately needed certainty.
4. Remove or reduce the MRN funding threshold:
We believe the £20 million lower limit of DfT contributions to MRN schemes prohibits the development of smaller projects that could deliver huge benefits, especially technology driven schemes that don’t need big physical infrastructure. We therefore recommend that this lower threshold is either removed or significantly reduced to allow more impactful and deliverable schemes to come forward.
Councillor Kay Cutts, Leader, Nottinghamshire County Council