Midlands Connect launches in Derby

Robert Goodwill

Representatives from 11 Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs), 26 transport authorities and the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) Midlands, have gathered at the Derby Roundhouse, on the site of the former British Rail and Midland Railway engineering works, to launch of Midlands Connect – an initiative to develop connectivity across the Midlands to fuel economic growth.

Following a welcome by councillor Ranjit Ranwait, leader of Derbyshire County Council, Robert Goodwill, Under Secretary of State for Transport, gave the keynote speech launching the Midlands Connect initiative which forms part of the wider long term plan to make the Midlands the UK’s ‘Engine for Growth,’.  The keynote speech was followed by Sir David Higgins, non-executive chair of HS2 Ltd, who spoke about Midlands Connect and the unprecedented opportunities HS2 would bring to the region.

In his address, Transport Minister Robert Goodwill said: “In addition to the massive investment the government is making in our transport infrastructure, we want to help regions across the country to make their voices heard on how their transport networks are run. We know that good transport doesn’t just help people get around, it helps them get on and these are key components of our long term economic plan to boost jobs and growth.

“I congratulate the Midlands Connect Partnership on getting the Midlands Engine for growth in motion and starting work on this vital strategy. This is a fantastic opportunity and I look forward to us working together on it.”

Chris Hobson, director of policy at East Midlands Chamber, said: “Midlands Connect is a welcome initiative which has brought the East and West Midlands together to campaign for and champion strategic transport investment across the region. It’s important that Government listens to these arguments to ensure the Midlands does not get overshadowed when it comes to discussing the UK’s major infrastructure projects and priorities.

“The Midlands is home to a third of all UK manufacturing, a thriving professional services sector, a buoyant construction sector and many other business sectors all looking for ambitious and sustainable growth.

“The UK will thrive only if the Midlands Engine for Growth is firing on all cylinders, so it’s important future infrastructure development is balanced, holistic and takes into account the important role that this region plays in driving economic growth and job creation.”

Midlands Connect could create around 300,000 new jobs, unlock economic benefits of more than £1bn-a-year and save businesses nearly £500m-a-year across the region.