It’s possible that you haven’t yet heard of Transport for the South East (TfSE). It is the youngest of the four emerging organisations vying to become Sub-national Transport Bodies (STBs) under the Government’s plan to give regions new powers to transform transport in their areas.
We see TfSE as a partnership to improve the transport network for all and grow the economy of the whole South East area. Established in June 2017, it covers an area stretching from the English Channel to the border of London, and from the Kent coast to Berkshire, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight. Not only does this area include major airports, ports, roads and rail routes, it is also a powerful economic motor for the whole of the UK – adding £200 billion a year to the national economy, which is more than Scotland and Wales combined.
Quite simply TfSE is a single voice for strategic transport needs in the South East. It has already provided its initial view on priorities for the next road investment strategy (RIS 2), which recognises the significance of the area as an international gateway with more passenger and freight movements than any other region in England.
The performance of the transport network in the South East has a direct impact on the economic success of the whole country; the South East connects us to the rest of the world and provides crucial access for business and trade. In fact London’s success is due in part to the infrastructure around it which allows the movement by road, rail, air and sea for the skills, services and products it needs. The South East can support other major cities across the country to thrive using its access to global markets and opportunities to support them. Without the right investment against our clear priorities, the country will fail to achieve its full economic potential.
This is why work on our economic connectivity review is so important to both the region and the country. This work will shape our forthcoming transport strategy, providing the clarity between infrastructure investment and economic growth. We are striking out at a time when the very way in which we travel is on the cusp of a revolution. With no new conventional diesel or petrol vehicles by 2040 and current atmospheric concentrations of CO2 above 400ppm, our transport strategy will look to support and prioritise cleaner transport and alternative forms of travel.
Our economic connectivity review is the springboard for our transport strategy. We know the South East is a powerful driver for the UK economy and the nation’s major international gateway for people and businesses. Our transport strategy will build upon the economic connectivity review with the blueprint for a quality, integrated transport system that makes us more productive and competitive, improves the quality of life for all and protects the environment.
We will be launching the economic connectivity review at the Connecting the South East event at the new Farnborough International Exhibition and Conference Centre on 8 May. The event includes a supporting exhibition and it has already secured strong industry support in the form of headline sponsorship from Jacobs, Balfour Beatty, Costain and Elgin.
This will be an excellent opportunity for partners and stakeholders across the public and private sector to not only understand the ambition and opportunity but also engage with TfSE to test and challenge our conclusions.
We have already achieved much. Representatives of our Local Enterprise Partnerships sit on our board, reflecting the vital link LEPs have with the businesses we are looking to support through our infrastructure planning. We also recognise the importance of the natural capital within the South East, not least our varied protected landscapes, and have ensured a place on the board for a representative who speaks for this vital interest.
We have an amazing opportunity to set our future economy in the right direction. Harnessing new technological advances, building on best practice and showing how transport connectivity can provide a prosperous future is what we’re about. The priorities we set will be the catalysts for inward investment, for new housing, for jobs. Our partnership will play its role in preparing the country for a new economic era.
Councillor Keith Glazier is Leader of East Sussex County Council and Chair of Transport for the South East
Connecting the South East takes place in Farnborough on 8 May, in association with Essential Infrastructure Events, the organiser of Highways UK. The event is free to attend and by invitation. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to register your interest in attending. If you would like to know more about exhibiting please email Andrew.Dowding@essential-infrastructure.com
Cllr Keith Glazier – Chair Transport for the South East and Leader East Sussex County Council