Underfunding of East Midlands transport networks 'a horror show', says councils boss

Mansfield Train Station.
Mansfield Train Station.

A stark underfunding of the East Midlands transport network has been described as a "horror show" by a leading councils boss.

Stuart Young, executive director of East Midlands Councils, was speaking before Ashfield District Council on the state of investment in our region, where he discussed the lack of funding for the East Midlands compared to the rest of the country.

An artist's impression of High Speed 2.

An artist's impression of High Speed 2.

A report by the Treasury found that railway funding in our region is at £79 per head, exactly £200 lower than the national average and significantly less than the London figure of £834.

And for transport as a whole, the East Midlands is bottom of the pile, receiving £245 per head, almost exactly half of the £483 national average and significantly lower than neighbouring regions like the West Midlands and the North West.

It comes despite investment in the new HS2 phase 2b development, which would, if completed, connect areas like Nottinghamshire and Chesterfield to Leeds, Birmingham and London at a much quicker rate.

But Mr Young says investment in local transport infrastructure is needed to "connect the communities" and ensure HS2 stations are not just used as "park and rides".

He said: "This is pretty much a horror show, because the East Midlands has consistently been bottom of the pile for economic affairs, transport and railways.

"The railways figure is a fantastic illustration of the lack of investment in infrastructure in our region.

"If we think about our competitors being the Northern Powerhouse or the West Midlands, because of course we are competing for investment funding, we're not doing too well. It is a reminder of the challenges we have.

"This region generates greater levels of productivity and growth per capita than many other areas. This isn't about fairness, it's about growth."

He added that the East Midlands needs to put together investment schemes that "light up" the government, in order to receive funding that would help "translate the benefits" of HS2.

Councillor Zadrozny, leader of Ashfield District Council, has called for politicians in the East Midlands to work together and secure a "fair share" of funding.

He said: "These latest figures show that in comparison to other regions in England - we are being let down badly by the government.

"At the same time, the West Midlands has seen a whopping 62.9 per cent increase in railway's spending - it is not acceptable.

"Take for example, Kirkby station. Despite years of campaigning has no disabled access.

"In this day and age that is disgraceful and systematic of a lack of funding or interest from the government.

"What I am calling for is for politicians to put aside partisan party politics and work together to get our fair share of funding.”

A DfT spokesperson said:“Our railways are vital links between communities across the country, providing cleaner, greener journeys which drive economic growth and bring people closer to friends and families.

“We are always open to potential ways to improve rail services and will work with train operators to assess proposals on a case by case basis.”