Shropshire Star

Shropshire business chiefs welcome transport funding boost

Shropshire business chiefs have welcomed news of a £243.4 million funding boost to the county’s transport infrastructure.

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Ruth Ross

The cash is part of a new Government fund created by scrapping the northern leg of HS2, which sees a total of £1.2 billion awarded to the West Midlands.

The money will be available from April 2025 – and will be provided over seven years.

The Shropshire Council area is to receive £136.4 million to be spent over the next seven years, with £107 million allocated to Telford & Wrekin.

The Government is asking local authorities to invest in the transport projects that ‘matter most to communities – helping create jobs, grow the economy, and level up the country’. Projects could be anything from pothole fixing to pedestrian crossings to building new roads, improving junctions and improving journey times for car and bus users.

Ruth Ross, Shropshire Chamber’s chief executive, said: “We are pleased to see the Government pledging this much-needed funding boost for our transport infrastructure.

“We also welcome the devolution of this allocation, allowing local authorities to decide how best to spend it.

“As one of the largest rural counties in England, an effective, reliable and well-maintained transport infrastructure is essential for the movement of people and goods – vital to our economic growth.

“We are currently putting the finishing touches to our new Chamber manifesto, which identifies the need to prioritise improvements and investment in the transport infrastructure.

“This is particularly important when it comes to levelling the playing field for some of Shropshire’s hardest to reach areas.”

Ruth added: “We see this Local Transport Fund allocation as very much a step in the right direction to unlock business growth.”

It comes just days after Shropshire was dealt a major public transport blow with news that the county’s direct rail service to London is being axed in June.

The Chamber has voiced its concerns about that and urged decision makers and stakeholders to rethink the plans.

Ruth said: “Shropshire Chamber of Commerce has long identified that one of the key barriers to growth in Shropshire is the lack of transport infrastructure which is fit for purpose in terms of both road and rail."

Michael Goodall, development manager at the Federation for Small Businesses in Shropshire, Herefordshire and Worcestershire, added: "This funding is welcome news for Shropshire and it’s good to see the Government making good on its commitment in the Autumn Statement 2023 for extra funds to be allocated to transport infrastructure across England from the cancellation of HS2 Phase 2.

"The Federation of Small Businesses’ own report ‘The Growth Belt’ highlights the key infrastructural challenges faced by small businesses in more rural areas. It recognises that, alongside improvements to strategic transport links, places like Shropshire need more investment in local transport to support high streets, businesses, jobs and communities, which otherwise risk being left behind due to their real or perceived remoteness.

"Invested wisely, these funds could be a real shot in the arm for the businesses, people and places that make Shropshire such a great place in which to live, work, invest and spend time."