Transport for the South East (TfSE) is a strategic political partnership to improve the transport network for all and grow the economy of the whole South East area.
It covers an area stretching from the English Channel to the border of London, and from the Kent coast to Berkshire, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight. Not only does this area include major airports, ports, roads and rail routes, but it is also a powerful economic motor for the whole of the UK – adding £200bn a year to the national economy (more than Scotland and Wales combined).
Quite simply, TfSE is already a single voice for strategic transport needs in the South East. It has, for example, given its initial view on priorities for the next Road Investment Strategy, which recognises the significance of the area as an international gateway with more passenger and freight movements than any other region in England.
The performance of the transport network in the South East affects the economic performance of the whole country, connecting the UK to the rest of the world with crucial access for business and trade. The South East can help other major cities and regions across the country to thrive, using its access to global markets and opportunities to support them. Indeed, a large part of London’s success is enabled by the infrastructure around it, which allows the movement by road, rail, air and sea for the skills, services and products it needs. To take that further, without the right investment against our clear priorities, the country risks failing to achieve its full economic potential.
This is why work now underway on our economic connectivity review is so important to both the region and the country. This is the first stage of our transport strategy, identifying how infrastructure investment can be best targeted to stimulate economic growth. Our transport strategy will build upon the economic connectivity review by delivering a quality, integrated transport system that makes us more productive and competitive, improves the quality of life for all and protects the environment. We will be launching our economic connectivity review in May, followed by a period of engagement with stakeholders to test our conclusions.
We are striking out at a time when the very way in which we travel is on the cusp of a revolution. With no new conventional diesel or petrol vehicles by 2040 and current atmospheric concentrations of CO2 above 400ppm, our transport strategy will look to support and prioritise cleaner transport and alternative forms of travel.
Digital technology will also transform the way we travel, with developments such as 5G communications changing the future of transport and mobility. Steered by the leaders of TfSE’s constituent local authorities, we have achieved much since our birth in June 2017. Our governance and constitutional arrangements include board membership for our local enterprise partnerships, providing a vital link to the businesses we are looking to support through our infrastructure planning.
A wide range of stakeholders, including operators, user groups, businesses and delivery bodies are represented through our Transport Forum. We also recognise the importance of the natural capital within the South East, not least our varied protected landscapes. We want to ensure the voice of these landscapes is heard and have made provision for this on our partnership board.
We have an amazing opportunity to set our future economy in the right direction. Harnessing new technological advances, building on best practice and evidencing how transport connectivity can provide for a prosperous future is what we’re about. The decisions we make about our priorities will be the catalysts for new housing, for inward investment and for jobs. Our partnership will play its role in preparing the country for a new economic era.