Councils and businesses in the South West have come together to set out the case for better transport links between the Channel ports of Poole and Southampton and the M4 corridor.
Bath & North East Somerset, Wiltshire, Dorset and Poole councils, together with local enterprise partnerships, have today published the South of England North-South Connectivity Prospectus to lobby ministers to include improved connections between the West of England region and the North and South West in the Government’s next Road Investment Strategy.
There is a lack of suitable connections between north and south in the strategic network covering large parts of southern England. Within this area the A350, the A338 and the A36/A46 through Bath experience considerable congestion. A particular problem is the large number of heavy good vehicles travelling between the ports and the motorway network.
Councillor Bridget Wayman, Cabinet Member for Highways at Wiltshire Council, said: “The increasing level of congestion is holding back the economic growth of the area including plans to create new jobs for the local communities. We have now created a compelling case for investment and seek the support of the Government to deliver these much needed improvements.”
Councillor Mark Shelford, Bath & North East Somerset Council’s Cabinet Member for Transport & Environment, said: “Everybody is aware that Bath sits on the junction of a number of major routes of regional, national and European significance, which form part of the strategic road network operated by Highways England.
An eastern link road could help remove congested traffic, however it’s important that we work together with our partners to look at the wider regional picture and the investment needed to deliver a stronger economy and more jobs.”
Councillor Daryl Turner, Dorset County Council’s Cabinet member for natural and built environment, said: “Dorset’s economy has been artificially suppressed due to wholly inadequate transport links to our ports and markets, particularly from the north. Improved links offer a huge potential for growth throughout the region. The government already acknowledges that an improved connection between the M4 and the South Coast is desperately needed; the time has come for them to commit to making it happen.”
Tim Bowles, West of England Mayor, said: “This is in important piece of work. To address transport and congestion issues in the West of England region, we need to work closely with our neighbouring authorities as roads don’t end at council boundaries, and many of us live work and travel across the region. The West of England Combined Authority is considering at investing a number of transport routes to support economic growth for all.”
We are asking ministers to mandate Highways England to commence a strategic study as soon as possible. If the Government considers this proposal has sufficient potential to go forward it will form part of the next Road Investment Strategy.