EEF, the manufacturer’s organisation, has welcomed the the government’s multi-billion pound Transport Investment Strategy.
Announced yesterday by Transport Secretary Chris Grayling, the strategy is part of the government’s commitment to spending more than £21 billion on transport infrastructure in the five years to 2021.
The government has set out four separate themes in order to guide future transport investment decision making. These are:
- Ensuring investment meets the needs of users, creating a balanced economy.
- Guaranteeing the best value for the network.
- Focusing on delivery of road infrastructure.
- The ability to adapt in the face of change.
Chris Richards, Head of Business Environment Policy at EEF, is pleased in particular with the creation of a major road network that the strategy has promised through access to a multi-billion pound road fund that will be supplemented by Vehicle Excise Duty (VED), resulting in road improvements.
He said: “Today’s announcement reconfirming the creation of a VED-linked Roads Fund, to be extended beyond the strategic road network with local authority managed A-roads and funding available for strategic local road maintenance, is significant.
“It is a major victory for manufacturers seeing their growth impaired by poor local road connectivity.
“Manufacturers consistently rate the UK’s road network as their highest priority for infrastructure investment with local roads, long considered the Cinderella of infrastructure spend, cited as deteriorating in quality the most. If this is backed up by action, it has the potential to reverse that trend.”
However, Chris Richards then struck a note of caution, by urging the government to be decisive, avoiding the risk of the investment and therefore, the projects, drifting.
“There will need to be rapid action to avoid the drift we’ve seen with other infrastructure announcements.
“This must include legislation to give permanence to the Roads Fund, the creation of Strategic Transport Bodies to cover all of England to provide coordination on which local roads are of strategic regional importance and clear timescales on when these bodies will have access to the Roads Fund to repair and upgrade local roads – England’s most valuable infrastructure asset.”