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Local Growth Fund

Volume 565: debated on Thursday 27 June 2013

8. What assessment he has made of the potential role of the local growth fund in improving transport; and if he will make a statement. (161771)

The single local growth fund will incorporate devolved major transport scheme funding along with other funding streams from across Government. The contribution the fund can make to improving transport will ultimately be determined by local decision takers. The Chief Secretary will make a statement on the matter in 31 minutes.

I will try to get in before him. The Burscough curves, the Ormskirk bypass and a railway station for Skelmersdale are much-needed transport projects in West Lancashire that would benefit from local growth fund money. Following the Chancellor’s statement yesterday that local enterprise partnerships are to bid for single growth fund moneys, it is unclear to me who is responsible for making decisions on local transport priorities. Is it LEPs or the local transport authorities? Whose door do I knock on to get that much-needed money?

We have set up local transport bodies and I have recently been engaging with them on their assurance frameworks, so in the immediate future I would suggest that the hon. Lady contacts her local transport body. The LEP responsibility kicks in from 2015.

Does the Minister agree that the local growth fund should be used to boost cross-country connectivity and not just to join together the big cities, particularly in areas such as Lancashire?

I certainly agree that it is important to consider all aspects of the geography when considering bids. It is not simply a matter of building huge new roads from A to B. Often, the local pinch point investments referred to by my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary a moment ago can be very effective indeed, so we should be prepared to be open-minded about the schemes that are appropriate for funding.