East Anglia ‘left behind’ just as much as struggling northern towns, MPs tell chancellor
PUBLISHED: 15:34 28 February 2020 | UPDATED: 15:34 28 February 2020
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Towns in East Anglia are being “left behind” just as much as struggling Midlands and northern areas because of a lack of investment in transport and digital connections, MPs have said.
The East of England All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) wrote to new chancellor Rishi Sunak to call for the region not to be overlooked when he delivers his first Budget on March 11.
The letter, co-written by Waveney MP Peter Aldous and Cambridge MP Daniel Zeichner as chairmen of the APPG, particularly pointed to coastal communities such as Lowestoft, Great Yarmouth, Ipswich and Clacton which "require levelling up support every bit as 'left behind' towns in the north and Midlands".
In particular they said there were "growing concerns about whether the region can generate and retain - through its education, skills and apprenticeship offer and provision - the required skills, including for STEM related as well as lower skilled employment, that will be needed to support ambitious plans for economic growth post Brexit".
The letter also said: "Lack of quality transport and digital connectivity is frustrating the potential of the region with, for example, the need for better connected ports and airports as well as journey time improvements on the West Anglian Mainline and other rail and road linkages between the main employment clusters, supply chains and affordable housing."
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The letter, which followed a meeting of 10 East of England MPs, made three demands of the new chancellor:
■ Funding for transport schemes such as the A12, A14, A47 and A120
■ Making East Anglia "a leader in digital connectivity", particularly by pursuing 5G
■ More cash for local councils so they can, for example, build more affordable homes.
The letter finishes by saying: "As one of the fastest growing UK regions and a net contributor to the Exchequer, investing in the East of England allows the UK to prosper more and generates extra revenue for the government, which can then be spent on its priorities including levelling up.
"However, to realise its potential the East of England still requires some specific, limited, but no less urgent government support and we trust that you will consider our requests for the government's support fully and favourably."
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