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Leaders unite to demand investment in strategic rail and road corridor, following axing of

Birmingham to Manchester HS2 route

Council leaders have united to call for money that would have been invested in the now axed HS2 route through Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire to be directed into a key rail and road corridor and local transport improvements instead.

Stoke-on-Trent City Council leader Jane Ashworth and Staffordshire County Council leader Alan White are calling on government to confirm investment into the A500/A50 corridor – a strategic road route that connects the region to major national road transport infrastructure, from the M6 to the M1.

The move comes as Prime Minister Rishi Sunak last week scrapped Phase 2 of HS2 and committed to investing £36bn in freed up money on hundreds of new transport projects in the north and Midlands, and across the country, including £2.1 billion for projects outside the main city regions in the East and East Midlands.

Councillor Ashworth said: “The A500/A50 corridor is a hugely significant transport corridor that is a key to unlocking major economic growth into our city and wider area. We are right in the centre of the UK’s strategic road network, and we’ve invested millions of pounds into transforming redundant brownfield land at Ceramic Valley into a growing enterprise zone that is fully connected to the A500, with scope for further growth.

“But this road corridor consistently suffers from pinch points that make sections slow and unreliable. There are sections of both the A500 and A50 that crawl at speeds below 20mph during rush hour.

“At the same time there is a major potential to improve east-west rail links along the corridor by reopening stations and improving frequency of trains. If this can be combined with improvement in bus services as well, we might at last have a well-functioning transport system for North Staffordshire that will benefit not just us but the rest of the country as well.

“The failure to invest in this fantastic manufacturing corridor is costing our economy, it’s holding up business and commuters, and it’s not good enough.

“I have written to the Secretary of State setting out the work that needs to take place in our city and to give our support to decision-making that will gave the best possible impact for our area. I have requested clarity on direct funding and timescales for delivery.”

The council leaders are calling on investment that will ease chronic congestion, increase choice, cut carbon and shorten journey times, improving air quality and supporting the development of thousands of new homes and jobs by improving access to development sites.

Councillor White said: “The A50/A500 corridor is a critical east/west route for Staffordshire and the wider region. With the right vision and investment, it has the potential to become an international centre for the advancement of hydrogen and zero-carbon engine technology.

“Current delays along the route restrict growth, increase costs and cause significant inconvenience. We have seen the impact the improvements at Uttoxeter have made, close to one of our flagship manufacturers JCB.

“In light of last week’s HS2 announcement, we will step up our efforts with our colleagues at Stoke-on-Trent City Council and the Midlands Connect partnership to champion the case to government for the reallocation of transport infrastructure funding, as well as wider investment in skills, R&D and enterprise along the A50/A500.

“We are encouraged that the route has been listed as one of the Network North projects, but we know there is a lot more to do.”


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