Response to Spring Budget

Response to spring budget

Andrew Summers, Chief Executive of Transport East, has reflected on the spring budget statement delivered in Government today (6 March):

Today’s statement predicts the UK economic growth will increase over the next three years. While this is positive for the East and the nation, it can only be supported with efficient movement of people and goods within our region and to the rest of the UK.

Investment in the East is vital to achieve this. As an international gateway, our 13 ports connect the UK to international markets and support businesses across the UK. Yet there are challenges restricting this movement, for example at Ely and Haughley where rail upgrades are vitally needed. Transport East has and will continue to make the case for investment in the region’s rail and road infrastructure to improve freight connections which enable UK trade and economic growth, while improving sustainability and are good value for money.

The East is also one of the fastest growing regions in England, with major urban areas including Norwich, Ipswich, Colchester, Chelmsford and Southend seeing large population growth. However, it’s also one of the sparsest. Investment into the region’s transport networks can provide greener, safer and faster connections between and within our cities, towns and rural communities.

By providing good journey connectivity, people can more easily share their skills, knowledge and insight to support the growth of our region’s businesses. I’m pleased to see commitments for additional funding for Canvey Island, King’s Lynn and Thetford within the Long-term Plan for Towns funding, supporting some of our important local centres.

I also welcome the government’s confirmation to extend to Freeport tax reliefs to September 2031. Freeport East and Thames Freeport bring a wealth of benefits to the East, including local investment, job opportunities and accelerate innovation for a greener economy. They are a vital asset regionally and nationally to generate growth and as their Sub-national Transport Body, we will continue to work with them and the government to maximise the value they are bringing.

The statement also set out a commitment of growth in Cambridge. While the city is outside of the Transport East patch, we recognise economic success of clusters in Cambridge, Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex are inextricably linked, and people and goods need to connect across this wider geography.

We will continue discussions with the Government – and our neighbouring STB England’s Economic Heartland, and partner local authorities – to make the case for investment in these movement corridors, including the Eastern Section of East-West Rail, and will seek commitments that journeys to and from our area are considered as plans for Cambridge develop.

Finally, whilst Local Transport Authorities (LTAs) in the North and Midlands are set to benefit from the longer-term funding settlements via the Local Transport Fund to 2035, we continue to support the extension of this approach to all LTAs across England, to provide all of the UK’s places with certainty and confidence that subsequently enables more efficient and integrated local transport planning.