In a recent article published by the Environment Journal, Cllr Keith Glazier - leader of East Sussex County Council, admits in the past the region "was missing out on a coordinated approach to issues,Hence we started the ball rolling out on a coordinated approach ’.
The new partnership, launched last month, brings together the area’s 16 authorities and five local enterprise partnerships to work directly with the Department for Transport.
It will include road and rail-builders, Highways England and Network Rail, operators, consumers and other key interest groups and intends to secure full government backing and statutory powers within two years.
Cllr Glazier says the idea came from an ADEPT conference last year, which featured presentations from other regional partnerships, such as Transport for the North and Midland Connect.
Areas covered by the new group include Berkshire, Brighton and Hove, Kent, Hampshire, the Isle of Wight, Medway, Portsmouth, Southampton, Surrey, East Sussex and West Sussex.
- As a region, it has 7.5 million residents and more than 24,000 miles of road while its ports collectively handle 81 million tonnes of freight each year.
- ‘The south east is only second to London when it comes to providing revenue, and yet we have missed out on major strategic infrastructure funding.
- ‘I genuinely believe, as do all my colleagues, that by working together we can coordinate the needs about the south east and be realistic about our approach, because clearly there is not a big pot of money that will allow these things to happen.’
Cllr Glazier says one of the big priorities for the group is improving connectivity around the region.
‘We have some major strategic projects that are going ahead, such as the Lower Thames Crossing and the expansion of Heathrow,’ he says. ‘They are all out there now and yet our ability to put them in the context of the whole south east is pretty limited. I think one voice speaking on behalf of all of us will have much more of an effect.’
Tackling poor connectivity
Businessess and commuters in the area have been heavily affected by ongoing Rail Strikes and disruption caused by over a year by Southern Rail - check out the twiiter page of southernfail
Cllr Glazier says ‘the sooner the government, unions and Southern sort it out, the better - This is not about spending maintenance funds in different ways. This is about taking a strategic view of what would enable the south east to work better.
‘We have some major businesses now thinking whether they in the right place and should they move? We can’t be complacent about these things. We just need to address the issues of business and the people who live here.’
The new body will also look at issues around electric vehicles, smart ticketing and the region’s ports.
Leader of Surrey County Council, David Hodge, comments: ‘This is an important step towards our aim of improving travel for commuters and businesses in the region, whether that’s by rail, road or air..Not only will working as one team in this way give us a bigger say on delivering better transport, it will mean we can help to drive growth in the engine room of the nation’s economy.’
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