Transport and housing bodies have joined forces to lobby government on the needs of the East West corridor from Oxford to Cambridge.
The new All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for the Oxford – Milton Keynes – Cambridge corridor has been launched to replace APPG East West Rail, shifting the focus onto the wider, overarching needs of the area.
Stakeholders Highways England, East West Railway Company and England’s Economic Heartland (EEH) will all be represented in the new group.
At the launch, APPG chair Iain Stewart said the greatest challenge facing the new group was that the stakeholders had not traditionally worked together, so it would now have to think innovatively about how the different parties could be brought together.
“This corridor covers three separate regions, East Midlands, East of England and Oxfordshire,” said Stewart. “A big challenge will be finding a way of harnessing everyone together and we will have to think of a new delivery and governance mechanism to make it happen. There isn’t an ideal solution out there so we will have to innovate and do something new.
“Without it, the real danger is just a series of individual projects which don’t fit well together. It needs that strategic oversight.”
The group will now work to lobby government on the corridor’s strategic needs and getting cross government department consensus on issues going forward.
Stakeholder East West Railway Company chairman Rob Brighouse said before the launch, said that he had spoken with many different stakeholders but only ever in bilateral discussions or small groups. The new APPG, he said, was a “great way of getting everyone together to make sure they were on a common agenda”.
EEH chairman and Buckinghamshire County Council leader Martin Tett said he hoped the new group would allow the project to get a long term commitment from the government.
“It’s not just about the big roads or the rail projects, but the utilities, the digital connectivity, it’s even down to gas and electric,” said Tett. “What we need is a consolidated view and a long term commitment from government. We want to know beyond the life of one parliament that there is support and then we can start to leverage private sector investment.”