Sussex officials have penned an open letter to the Chancellor of the Exchequer in a bid to win funding for better transport connections across the south east.
The letter was signed by 22 regional leaders from the Transport for the South East group, including East Sussex County Council leader Keith Glazier and Cllr Roger Elkins from West Sussex County Council, and comes a week before the Budget on March 11.
According to a Transport for the South East, the group is a ‘unique partnership’ which brings together civic and business leaders representing more than 7.5m people and 300,000 businesses in the south east with the aim to invest in transport.
Chairman Keith Glazier said, “The south east contributes more to the national economy than any region outside London and is our country’s main international gateway for people and goods. When the south east prospers, so does the whole UK.
“That’s why we need to see increased investment in our transport infrastructure, growing the economy and creating jobs here in the region and supporting the investment already taking place in other parts of the country.”
Other leaders and politicians from Sussex who signed the letter include Anne Pissaridou of Brighton and Hove City Council, Dan Humphreys of Worthing Borough Council, Ana Christie Chief Executive of Sussex Chamber of Commerce and Adam Bryan of the South East Local Enterprise Partnership.
The letter reads as follows:
“Next week’s Budget is a unique opportunity for this government to demonstrate its commitment to boosting economic prosperity across the country.
“The south east is already a powerful motor for national prosperity, adding more than £200 billion to the UK economy – more than any region outside the capital.
“It is a huge economy in its own right, home to 7.5 million people and more than 300,000 businesses from FTSE100 giants to nimble and innovative start-ups.
“The region boasts world-leading universities and research institutes, dynamic towns and cities, beautiful coasts and countryside and is our nation’s key international gateway for people and goods. When the south east prospers, so does the whole UK.
“But we face a real challenge. Our transport network is operating beyond capacity and can’t sustain ongoing growth.
“Roads are congested and rail travel is often unreliable. Urgent investment is needed to meet existing demands and cater for future growth and to help unlock new housing, attract inward investment and support deprived communities.
“Our 30-year transport strategy sets out a vision for the south east that is better for people, better for business and better for the planet. With the right investment in a more sustainable transport network, we can more than double the south east’s economy to almost £500 billion, create an additional 500,000 jobs, boost quality of life and access to opportunities for everyone and cut the region’s carbon emissions to net-zero.
“And we can do this while delivering significant benefits for the millions of people and thousands of businesses across the UK who rely on the south east’s unrivalled connections with Europe and the rest of the world.
“From cars made in the Midlands to Scotch whisky and Welsh steel, goods worth hundreds of billions are exported each year from the south east’s ports, airports and international rail connections to all four corners of the globe. These busy international gateways also support the movement of millions of people between the UK and the rest of the world.
“Nearly 15 per cent of all UK trade passes through the Port of Dover, Europe’s busiest ferry port, air freight at Heathrow alone accounts for 31 per cent of the UK’s non-EU trade by volume, the Port of Southampton is the UK’s principal port for non-EU exports – the UK’s biggest growing market – handling goods worth more than £70 billion a year, nearly 50 million passengers use Gatwick Airport each year, making it the second-busiest single runway airport in the world
“More than 20 million passengers a year travel between the UK and Europe on Eurostar and Eurotunnel shuttle services, alongside 23 million tonnes of freight. “That is what we mean when we say the south east is the UK’s window on the world, offering unparalleled reach and access to global markets.”