Budget 2015: Scores of millions put to regional and local projects


The Government committed to a raft of regional transport projects in the Budget this week, including a further round of the New Stations Fund with up to £20m for new projects.

Treasury officials said they would consider any proposals put forward for a new station between Castle Cary and Taunton using the fund, and local bids for stations on the Robin Hood Line to Edwinstowe and Ollerton, subject to a business case.

On top of a further £30m for Transport for the North, the Treasury also announced £5m for the Midlands Connect consortium, which is pressing for better road, rail and freight links in the region.

The group, which involves political and business leaders from across the East and West Midlands, has already highlighted concerns over the electrification of the Midland Main Line (MML) being put on hold and the 'pressing' need to ensure the Midlands’ road and rail networks are ready for HS2 bu the start of construction of Phase 1 to the region in 2017.

'The government will work with Local Enterprise Partnerships, the local partners and the emerging combined authorities to scale up this work across the Midlands, looking to agree a clear and detailed delivery plan in autumn 2015,' the Treasury said.

Andrew Cleaves, chair of the Midlands Connect Partnership Steering Group, said: 'Yesterday’s Budget statement is very encouraging and clearly shows that the Government fully recognises that a dynamic and successful Midlands is vital to the UK’s overall economic health. But we now need to power up the ‘Midlands Engine’ which is why we have asked Mr Osborne to back a high level summit to discuss the part Government can play in securing a long term investment strategy.'

Other key announcements include confirming that Highways England and Essex CC will work together to study options for dualling the A120 between Braintree and Marks Tey.

Also in roads, £3m will be provided to support local councils in developing business cases for the North Devon Link Road and A391 upgrades.

The Government is looking at reviewing tolls on the Mersey tunnels and said said it was considering extending Mersey Gateway bridge toll discounts to residents of Chester West & Chester and Warrington, with final decisions to be made early next year.

In rail the Government will extend the scope of the Lewes-Uckfield study to look at wider improvements in rail links between London and the south coast, including improvements along the Brighton Main Line corridor and a re-examination of the feasibility of a second Brighton Main Line.

The rail industry has also been asked to explore options for extending High Speed 1 services, which connect to the Channel Tunnel, to Hastings and Rye in the forthcoming Kent Route Study, for presentation to Ministers in 2016

The government will also commit £17.8m to local transport projects:

- £2m to the Treluswell Junction Improvement in Cornwall, with the potential to realise the delivery of approximately 400 homes

- £1.5m for improvements to the A4123 Birmingham New Road/Shaw Road Junction in Wolverhampton, to help unlock the development of housing on 6 sites

- £5.5m for maintenance and upgrade of the Swanswell viaduct

- £3m for Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council to make structural improvements to walls around local roads

- £5.8m for the A666 Highways Maintenance Scheme in Bolton

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