My Department has held discussions with a number of local authorities before and during the consultation period on the devolution of funding for local major transport schemes. The formal consultation exercise closed on 2 April and we are now reviewing the responses. We will publish our firm proposals later in the year.
Does the Minister agree that devolving funding for major local transport schemes, such as improvements to the A47 in Norfolk, will give local communities more say on what they need, particularly by using local enterprise partnerships and bringing together businesses and local authorities with a clear understanding and focus on what is needed to achieve economic growth from infrastructure investment?
Yes, we agree that it is a good idea that local communities have more say in such matters, as my hon. Friend says. I am happy to say that my ministerial colleague, my hon. Friend the Member for Hemel Hempstead (Mike Penning), will shortly invite him, other local MPs and interested parties to discuss relative priorities for the A47.
Northumberland county council is again considering the reopening of the Ashington, Blyth and Tyne rail passenger link, which is essential for economic recovery and growth in south-east Northumberland. Will the Minister agree to meet me and other interested parties to discuss how we make sure that this necessity becomes a reality?