Marches LEP drives region’s transport agenda

The Marches Local Enterprise Partnership has brought together Government and regional specialists for a three-day fact-finding tour to drive the region’s transport improvements.

Officials from the LEP, the Department for Transport, the Department for Business & Trade, regional strategic body Midlands Connect and the three local authorities across the Marches have taken part in the mission to understand the region’s key transport priorities.

The Marches LEP hosted the tour, which took in Shropshire, Herefordshire, and Telford & Wrekin. Marches LEP chief executive Rachel Laver said the event focused on the complete range of transport priorities, including road, rail, freight, public transport and cycling and walking.

“It is vital that our entire transport infrastructure works for the whole of the Marches region and beyond, enabling businesses and our communities to grow and to thrive.

“The three-day event was a chance to demonstrate some of the most significant transport issues facing our region – for example, a recent report which details the ten slowest roads in the country found three were in the Marches – and to press the case for the investment we need.”

The LEP has commissioned detailed work by transport consultants to help develop a prioritised list of strategic projects for investment across the Marches.

“The report will be published later in the summer and will provide compelling evidence of the improvements we believe are necessary, including considering new innovative digital solutions to help tackle rural deprivation and access to employment, services and education. It’s imperative that rural areas are able to secure investment and don’t continually lose out to urban areas where value for money appears higher based on the number of people who benefit.”

The three-day event began in Herefordshire on June 6, with a look at the plans for Hereford’s new transport hub, the wider ambitions for the city and visits to the Talk Community Hub at Garway, Model Farm development at Ross-on-Wye and Gwatkins Cider Farm.

Shropshire was the focus on June 7, with talks at Shropshire Council’s Shirehall, visits to Craven Arms Business Park and University Centre Shrewsbury and a tour of Shrewsbury town centre. Officials were also given presentations on key schemes including Oswestry’s Mile End Project, the North West Relief Road and Shrewsbury’s Big Town Plan Movement strategy.

The three-day tour concluded in Telford on June 8, taking in Wellington Railway Station, Telford Town Centre and Ironbridge.

Rachel added: “The Marches LEP has a vital role in bringing partners together to ensure that wider issues such as transport and business are considered in a strategic and integrated way. This tour is strong evidence of the value we are adding to the Marches by working collaboratively for the greater good of the whole region.”

CAPTION: Marches LEP chair Sonia Roberts during the visit to Wellington with Sarah Spink of Midlands Connect, Govin Aujla of the Department for Business, and Mark Schneider, Marches LEP head of business development and delivery.

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