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Wednesday, 22 May 2013

New powerful transport body will manage millions of pounds worth of investment


Cheshire East Council has joined forces with its neighbouring councils to establish a new powerful decision-making body to oversee the region’s future investment in transport.

The Cheshire and Warrington Local Transport Body (CWLTB) has the power to invest in schemes that support economic growth and regeneration across the region.

It is made up of Cheshire East Council, Cheshire West and Chester Council and Warrington Borough Council, and has been given the devolved decision-making powers by the Department for Transport.

CWLTB has a single strategic objective: ‘to improve transport infrastructure to secure significant connectivity gains in the support of economic growth and prosperity’ and will be a publicly-accountable body.

The first meeting will take place this Thursday (May 23) at Congleton Town Hall at 3.30pm and the public and press are welcome to attend.

It is estimated the region will need over a billion pounds worth of investment over the next twenty to thirty years in order to meet the sustainable needs of its communities. This funding will also be drawn from the private sector and the transport industry.

The Department for Transport has already committed £21.8m for the period 2015/16 to 2018/19, the details of which will be officially announced next month. This represents an initial pot of funding with the three councils working together to attract further outside investment.

Leader of Cheshire East Council Councillor Michael Jones will chair the group. He is also lead for infrastructure on Cheshire and Warrington Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP) and therefore brings with him a wealth of insight and experience. Supporting him will be 80s music mogul Pete Waterman who is lead for transport on (CWLEP).

Councillor Jones said: “This is an important step forward to ensure that Cheshire East Council and our partners are in the strongest position to manage the millions of pounds worth of investment we are due to unlock the potential of our region and promote us as the ‘engine of the north’.

“The new body will enable us to have an on-going dialogue with the Government so that we can demonstrate confidence that projects can be implemented when funding becomes available.

“We will be working closely with the Government, the Highways Agency and Network Rail to influence and bring forward projects from their own investment programmes that could greatly benefit the area.

“Connecting people so that jobs can be accessed and ensuring businesses are able to confidently invest in sites near to transport hubs, will be our over-riding objectives.

“We want to provide an excellent location to do business, as well as a beautiful place to live and work.

“We are totally committed to bringing economic success to the region and see investment in our transport system as the driving force.

“My role will be to steer us through the decision-making process and to tap into potential funds, which could bring even greater prosperity to Cheshire East and our partners.”

One of the main roles of CWLTB will be to create a Strategic Transport Policy and a Transport Connectivity and Infrastructure Plan to cover all forms of transport. To achieve its strategic and wider objectives, the CWLTB will also develop an integrated Transport Investment Programme of capital projects for the sub region.

There will be a pooled ‘transport investment fund’ created and the CWLTB will work with economic development teams to identify other funding sources, including private sector funding contributions and investments.

The new body will have the power to approve schemes, release funding and scrutinise individual schemes for consideration.

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