Councils across the ‘Greater South East’ are working together to lobby for strategic transport schemes and considering a joint infrastructure funding bid for this year’s Autumn Budget.
The report of the London Finance Commission, published last week, proposed increased co-ordination and co-operation between authorities in the Greater South East, i.e. London, the East and South East regions.
A high-speed train traveling across the Medway Viaduct
It recommended that ‘the GLA [Greater London Authority], TfL [Transport for London] and London Councils should consider developing with their counterparts in the rest of the Greater South East a strategic transport and infrastructure funding proposal for submission to the Government by the time of the 2017 Autumn Budget’.
It added: ‘These organisations should also work with the NIC [National Infrastructure Commission] to form evidence for the National Infrastructure Assessment.'
Heather Bolton, director of South East England Councils (SEEC) told Transport Network: ‘The idea of a joint Budget submission builds on work SEEC has already been doing with the GLA, London Councils and East of England.
‘We have recently agreed to work together to lobby for investment in 13 strategic transport schemes that will release significant economic and housing growth across all our areas and we will now discuss options for a wider joint Budget submission. We still have time to prepare a submission for the autumn so we will feed it into our regular discussions.’
Schemes include the North Downs Rail Link from Gatwick to Reading; the A27/M27/A259 and rail corridor from Dover to Southampton; and better rail links between London, north Kent and the Channel Tunnel for the Thames Gateway.
Cllr Roy Perry, leader of Hampshire County Council and deputy chairman of SEEC, told Transport Network: ‘From my own perspective, I do think it is important to appreciate that whilst London and South East are often referred to in the same breath and, whilst there are similarities in their position, there are also differences.
He added: ‘It is often little known that the South East generates more in its net contribution to the national exchequer than any other region including London.
‘There has however been a significant deficit in infrastructure investment in the South East. We need – and could produce much more if we had – better road, rail, digital infrastructure.’