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Economic Growth: Midlands Engine

Volume 658: debated on Monday 8 April 2019

14. What steps the Government are taking to deliver economic growth through the midlands engine. (910275)

We have confirmed up to £2 million to further the delivery of the east midlands HS2 growth strategy around Toton station. To increase business engagement, we are supporting the midlands engine’s campaign to raise the region’s profile nationally and internationally, and to highlight the economic potential of the midlands.

I thank my right hon. Friend for that answer, but local authorities in Mansfield are hoping to secure funding through the future high streets fund to help reinvigorate what was once a thriving town centre. That support would be very welcome, as would the opportunity to access the recently announced stronger towns funding. What will the criteria be for that funding, and will my right hon. Friend commit to working with our local council to give Mansfield the best possible chance of accessing it?

My hon. Friend rightly champions Mansfield, and we will look very closely at the expression of interest that has been expressed in relation to the future high streets fund. The stronger towns fund will support towns to grow and prosper, and we will obviously be working with communities. I can certainly give a commitment to work with him and with Mansfield as we continue to shape that, and get the right feedback to ensure that that money delivers what we want it to.

Last time I looked, Taunton Deane was a considerable distance away from the midlands, but I am in a generous mood, so we must hear the hon. Lady.

18.   Thank you for being so generous, Mr Speaker. Although it is not the midlands engine but the great south west, this question is about economic growth. Some £600 million of economic growth could be delivered from the £95 million forward funding, with a bid just submitted by Somerset County Council that represents great value for money in delivering 10,000 houses. Does the Secretary of State agree that this is indeed a good place for the Government to invest their money and will make a great contribution to our housing targets? (910279)

I acknowledge my hon. Friend’s ingenuity in putting her question. Her council has submitted a £14 million bid to the housing infrastructure fund, which we obviously want to see delivering more homes and building the homes our country needs. I can assure my hon. Friend that we will look carefully at this bid. It is a competitive process, but I am encouraged by what she says.