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Shortlist for £840M transport fund revealed

Midland metro alliance tram

A shortlist for 10 regions around the UK which could benefit from a share of an £840M government transport fund has been released.

The 10 regions include Derby and Nottingham, Leicester City, the North East, Norwich, Plymouth, Portsmouth, Southampton, Sheffield, Stoke-on-Trent and West Yorkshire will now bid to get a share of the cash to upgrade public transport services.

The funding is part of a £1.7bn transforming cities fund which has been made available under the government’s modern Industrial Strategy.

Six mayoral combined authorities have already received a share of the first round of £840M funding with schemes such as the Brierley Hill tram lines extension in the West Midlands and £160M towards the Beeline Cycle Network in Greater Manchester.

The cycle scheme is set to be the largest network of its kind in the UK, with 1,600km of interlinked bike and pedestrian lanes across 10 boroughs.

The funds will be allocated over the next four years and is intended to be used to upgrade new bus routes between residential areas and employment hubs, smart technology aimed at reducing congestion, or rolling out docking stations for e-bikes.

Transport secretary Chris Grayling said: “Good bus, cycle and tram routes play a huge role in increasing the vitality and vibrancy of cities.

“These 10 areas now have the chance to transform their transport systems – making it easier for people to get around and enhance links to work, school or shops.”

Each of the shortlisted city regions will now receive an initial £50,000 as well as bespoke support from government to co-develop the strongest cases for investment. The bids will then be assessed on their relative strength.

The National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) welcomed the investment but also urged ministers to go further by devolving more powers and funding to local leaders.

The recently released National Infrastructure Assessment recommended that cities should be given long-term infrastructure budgets and the opportunity to develop bigger projects where required.

It said to deliver this, local leaders in cities needed an extra £43bn of investment by 2040. This, it said, was “clearly affordable” within the fiscal remit provided by Government.

NIC chair Sir John Armitt said he had written to councils in more than 50 cities offering support from the NIC as local leaders look to develop the plans.

Armitt said: “I’m pleased to see 10 city regions across the country benefiting from this funding boost, recognising that the need to tackle congestion makes cities a top infrastructure priority.

“The Transforming Cities Fund has been a great first step, and I would now urge Ministers to go further and devolve even greater powers and funding to local leaders. That will enable them to devise longer term plans for transport, but also to boost employment opportunities and deliver much needed homes.”

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