East Midlands unites to demand more infrastructure investment

infrastructure
Scott Knowles

Business and political leaders from across the East Midlands are uniting to press Government to boost infrastructure investment in the region, making it match the rest of the UK.

Regional MPs led by Nicky Morgan and Lilian Greenwood are among those being asked to sign a declaration supporting a drive to see more money spent on vital projects that would lead to jobs creation, improve skills and drive up productivity.

Using Government data, the declaration shows that the East Midlands received only 60% of average per capita investment compared with the rest of England and calls for this to be increased to match the national average by the 2020.

The declaration will be unveiled at the East Midlands Infrastructure Summit, which takes place at Leicester City Hall, from 10am to 3pm, on Monday (27 November).

East Midlands Councils and East Midlands Chamber are jointly behind the summit – Driving Growth: Investing in our Infrastructure.

Sir Peter Soulsby, the Mayor of Leicester, will open the event. Keynote speakers will include The Rt Hon Nicky Morgan – MP for Loughborough and Chair of the Treasury Select Committee, Lilian Greenwood – MP for Nottingham South and Chair of the Transport Select Committee, Sir John Peace – Chair at Midlands Engine and Councillor Kay Cutts – Leader at Nottinghamshire County Council.

Business responses will come from Richard Blackmore – Regional Director at the CBI in the East Midlands, Michelle Craven-Faulkner – Chair of the Rail Forum East Midlands, Scott Knowles – Chief Executive at East Midlands Chamber, Howard Ebison, Commercial Director at East Midlands Airport, Jake Kelly – Managing Director at East Midlands Trains and Gwyn Stubbings – Planning Director at IDI Gazeley.

There will also be three question-and-answer sessions, one led by Stuart Young – Executive Director at East Midlands Councils, one by Chris Hobson, Director of Policy and East Midlands Chamber and the other by Rob Mayo – President at East Midlands Chamber.

Scott Knowles, Chief Executive at East Midlands Chamber, said: “It was only a matter of about 60 hours in the summer between Chris Grayling announcing that Midland Main Line electrification would not go ahead and that £30bn had been found for London’s Crossrail 2 project.

“Announcements like this are unfortunately indicative of a wider laissez-faire approach when it comes to Government spending in the East Midlands. We make more here than anywhere else in the country and we are very good at shipping what we make to global markets. But we could be significantly more productive if we had 21st Century infrastructure.

“Nothing we saw in the recent Budget suggests this is about to change. The time has come to stand up and fight for the investment that our hard-won growth deserves. Government should back a proven winner, and the collective message today – from private and public sector – is for them to get on and do that.”

Dr Stuart Young, Executive Director of East Midlands Councils, said: “Treasury data confirms that the East Midlands is losing out in terms of public investment. We are the lowest-funded region for transport, rail and wider infrastructure. This risks chocking-off future growth.

“This is despite the fact that investment in the local economies that make up the East Midlands offers a greater economic return than other parts of the country. By increasing the proportion of national infrastructure spending in the East Midlands, there will be a much better chance of unlocking the private sector investment needed to revive and rebalance the UK economy.

“If we are to deliver greater levels of infrastructure investment to the region – securing the jobs, productivity and housing growth that we all need – then councils, businesses and MPs will need to hunt together as a pack.”

Nicky Morgan said: “We have a number of great opportunities to transform our connectivity and infrastructure. These bring enormous economic opportunities – but also the challenge of making the most of them.

“Businesses, MPs and councils are a powerful force – and I’ve seen just how successful this type of approach can be elsewhere in the country.

“That is why I would like to pledge my support to a public commitment to increase the levels of investment. This is a rallying cry that needs to be heard locally and in Westminster.”

The event is also being supported by CBI East Midlands, FSB East Midlands and IoD East Midlands and the Rail Forum East Midlands.