Cumbria business leaders press for share of chancellor's £400m transport investment war chest
A LEADING business group is calling for Cumbria to get a major slice of a £400m investment in Northern transport.
Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership wants the government to commit to tackling long-standing problems with the county's infrastructure.
The call comes after the organisation - which aims to promote economic growth in the county - submitted business cases to government bodies.
Chancellor Philip Hammond announced this week that the government would commit to spending £400m on northern infrastructure but full details of exactly where this will be spent have not been released.
The projects the LEP is promoting include upgrades to the Cumbrian coastal railway line, the proposed Whitehaven relief road, a Carlisle southern link road and another package of improvements along the A590. These are in addition to the dualling of the A66 from Scotch Corner to Penrith and improvements to the A69 and A689, which are being taken forward by Highways England.
Cumbria LEP lead board member for infrastructure, Jim Jackson, said: “Securing funding to deliver this new infrastructure is challenging and is set within a highly competitive environment. It’s vital we share economic evidence with key transport agencies as early as possible, and demonstrate the benefits and deliverability of proposals within Cumbria.
“We’ve produced a county-wide, integrated package of evidence based proposals, bigger than Cumbria has put on the table before. This has been done in partnership with major businesses in the county and statutory bodies including Network Rail, Transport for the North and Highways England.
“We recognise that we need to provide a robust evidence base for these projects in terms of their business potential, as well as placing greater emphasis on developing close working relationships.
“We think that the strategic outline business cases for roads, coupled with the capacity study for improvements to the Cumbrian coastal railway line, provide a compelling case for investment.
“We expect to receive an indication by next spring if we are likely to secure the funding to move forward with these schemes, when transport organisations submit their plans for approval in the summer of 2018.”
Cumbria LEP is also supporting a Carlisle City Council and Cumbria County Council bid to the new Housing Infrastructure Fund to secure investment for the Carlisle southern link road to support the building of St Cuthbert's Garden Village with 10,000 new homes.
The next investment period for the Strategic Road Network will cover the period 2020-2025. The next rail investment period will cover the period 2019-2024. Both are being developed on a staged basis.