Boards. Funding. People & Skills Projects - 09 March 2017

Strong strategic vision for the Midlands welcomed by D2N2

A strong vision for the Midlands’ economic and transport future – laid out in two important strategy publications published today (March 9) – has been welcomed by the D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership.

Coming the day after the 2017 Budget the publication of the Midlands Engine Strategy and the Midlands Connect Strategy anticipate major investment, to generate regional growth, to benefit all communities.

Chancellor Philip Hammond was in Dudley, West Midlands, this morning to launch the Midlands Engine Strategy, a copy of which can be found online HERE.

The Midlands Engine is a partnership of ten Local Enterprise Partnerships – including D2N2 (which promotes economic and jobs’ growth across Derby, Derbyshire, Nottingham and Nottinghamshire) – local authorities, businesses, and education providers; aiming to create 300,000 jobs and add £34billion to the region’s economy by 2030. The Midlands Engine Prospectus was launched in December 2015 by Business Secretary Sajid Javid (pictured).

The Midlands Engine Strategy published today aims to help the region address productivity barriers, enable businesses to create more jobs, and to export more goods and services.

It will do this by focusing on the five key objectives of:

  • Improving connectivity to raise productivity.
  • Strengthening skills to make the Midlands more attractive to businesses.
  • Supporting enterprise and innovation to foster a more dynamic regional economy.
  • Promoting the Midlands nationally and internationally, to maximise trade and investment in the region.
  • Enhancing quality of life to attract and retain skilled workers, and to foster the local tourist economy.

Practical steps in the Strategy to achieve these objectives include:

  • Plans to invest £392million across the Midlands through the Government’s Local Growth Fund.**Today, Government separately announced how much each Midlands’ Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) would be receiving from its £12billion Local Growth Fund, money allocated to improve local infrastructure (roads, education facilities, business centres, etc) – with the D2N2 LEP receiving £63million.
  • £20million for a Midlands Skills Challenge fund, to help close the skills gap between the Midlands and the rest of the country.
  • A £250million Midlands Engine Investment Fund, which from this spring (2017) will provide financing to help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) grow.
  • A Midlands Trade and Investment Programme, to help position the Midlands Engine on the global stage. This will include export events in Europe, North America, Asia, Africa and the Middle East; and the presentation of a Midlands Engine Investment Portfolio at MIPIM 2017 – the annual global property investment exhibition to be held in Cannes, France, next week – which will set out the most exciting investor opportunities in the Midlands region.

Philip Hammond MP, Chancellor of the Exchequer, said: “Underpinning the Midlands Engine Strategy, and crucial to its success, is close engagement with local partners – Local and Combined Authorities, universities, businesses and Local Enterprise Partnerships.”

He added: “Working together, we can achieve our ambitious vision for a Midlands’ economy that works for everyone.”

Improving transport connectivity across the region, and between it and the rest of the UK and the world, is essential to carrying forward the ambitions of the new Midlands Engine Strategy – a fact recognised in the Midlands Connect Strategy, also published today.

Midlands Connect is a partnership of 28 local authorities across the East and West Midlands, businesses, ten LEPs (again including D2N2), Network Rail, Highways England, HS2 Ltd and associate member the Department for Transport.

The Midlands Connect Strategy: Powering the Midlands Engine report published today (March 9) is the result of 18 months of extensive consultation. It proposes an ambitious 25 year programme of investment in strategic road and rail improvements, to reduce congestion and improve journey times across the Midlands, to aid its economic growth. A full copy of the transport Strategy can be read online HERE

Priorities spelled out in the Midlands Connect Strategy include:

  • A52 improvements between Derby and Nottingham, including to enable access to the future East Midlands HS2 Hub Station at Toton, and to improve the route to East Midlands Airport. These plans are to be delivered by the end of the 2020s, to improve east-west connectivity.
  • Improvements along the A46 corridor, running across the Midlands from Tewksbury to the Lincolnshire coast, to support the manufacturing sector – starting with improvements around Newark.
  • Measures to relieve traffic pressures affecting the central Midlands motorway network, including on the A42 and A5 roads.
  • A ‘Midlands Rail Hub’ for the Birmingham area, which will help release up to an extra 85,000 train seats across the network every day and allow up to ten extra trains an hour through central Birmingham; a bottleneck currently limiting east-west rail movements.
  • A ‘smarter’ approach, to make personal and commercial travel across the Midlands’ areas and between different modes of transport simpler. This would include smart and digital travel ‘tickets’ and applications, and trials for connected passenger and freight autonomous vehicles.

Commenting on the Midlands Connect Strategy today Peter Richardson, Chair of the D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership, added: “With the commitment to complete HS2 and an interchange at the East Midlands Hub in Nottinghamshire, and potentially a high speed station and maintenance facility at Chesterfield by early 2033, an evidence-based and considered plan of action is needed to make the most of the opportunity which the HS2 network presents to communities and businesses throughout our area.

“Derby is the UK’s ‘Capital of Innovation’ and is recognised as one of the fastest growing business centres in recent years. Its potential is clear to see, as it continues to expand with innovative small and international companies. Nottingham has already benefited from recent significant transport investment, including the tram extension and the A453 widening, and is ambitious to grow further, faster.

“Developing the projects set out in the Midlands Connect Strategy will stimulate the economy further, and give the vast talent pool across Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire greater access to jobs and businesses throughout the Midlands, from east to west and north to south.

“We are in full support of flagship projects such as the Midland Main Line upgrade and electrification; and the development of the Newark Northern bypass. These could increase the speed of journeys across our region, giving businesses and their employees better access to the talent across the region; especially in the triangle of cities which is Derby, Nottingham and Leicester. The development plans for the A52, including a mass transit strategy and access to the HS2 Hub, will also have a major impact on our area. If we are to see the true potential of all our communities in the Midlands we need these recommendations to be acted on as soon as possible.”

Sir John Peace – who is Chair of both the Midlands Engine and Midlands Connect – said today: “We have come together across a wider geography than has been attempted before, to deliver a collective view of what the Midlands can achieve.

“We are confident in our physical, economic, commercial and cultural assets – and in our people – and our potential to contribute more to the success of UK plc.

“We believe that with the right investments in place the Midlands can raise its performance to match global cities like Singapore, Shanghai and New York. We can grow faster and generate more wealth, helping the government to create an economy that serves everyone well.”

For more information on how the D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership is helping grow the economy, businesses and jobs in its area see its website at www.d2n2lep.org

Contacts for Media

For more information on the Midlands Engine Strategy contact Rosie Bate-Williams on 0207 554 1804 or email: rosie.batewilliams@portland-communications.com

For more information on the Midlands Connect Strategy contact Ian Stanley on 0121 713 3566 or email: ian.stanley@mccann.com ; OR Steve Swingler on 0121 214 7073 or 07887 794 241, or email: SteveSwingler@centro.org.uk

Media wanting further information on the D2N2 LEP can contact D2N2 Communications Manager Sean Kirby on 0115 957 8749 or email: sean.kirby@d2n2lep.org

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