Businesses ask election hopefuls for cash boost

New rail lines being laidImage source, Andrew Turner/BBC
Image caption,

Business leaders in the region say the East of England has lost out when it has come to funding for infrastructure schemes

  • Published

A group of business leaders are calling for major investment in the East of England from whoever forms the next government.

In a manifesto being sent to all the political parties, the Eastern Powerhouse said the region must have parity of funding with other parts of England.

The lobby group wants more investment in transport, housing and education.

"The East of England needs this more ever," said Steven Lynch, the executive director of the Eastern Powerhouse.

"We're a world leader in so many industries, from life sciences to biotech, but we're also falling behind.

"This is the first ever regional manifesto. It's not a complaint document; it's a solution document."

Image source, Laura Foster/BBC
Image caption,

The manifesto lists 17 transport schemes in need of improvement, including an Ipswich bypass (pictured is traffic on the A12 in Essex)

In its Manifesto for the East document, the business group says that despite the region having one of the most productive economies in the UK and highest rates of employment, its "huge untapped potential" is being held back by years of under investment.

It says the region has one of the poorest transport networks in England.

Seventeen rail, road and airport schemes are strategic priorities, they say, including:

  • The Ely junction upgrade

  • Electrifying the freight railway line from Felixstowe

  • Dualling the entirety of the A47

  • A northern bypass for Ipswich

  • A new terminal at Luton airport

The group said the east has the second highest proportion of so-called skills gaps in England.

The largest number of vacancies, a spokesperson said, were in social care (54%), construction (50%) and business services (45%).

It called for:

  • An increase in per-pupil funding, particularly in Norfolk and Suffolk

  • An eastern teaching premium to attract and retain top teaching talent

  • Bus subsidies for 16-19 year olds

  • A retraining fund for people over the age of 40

The manifesto also called for a joined-up regional strategy on housing, saying that the property boom in Cambridge had made housing unaffordable for many people to rent and buy.

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