Bypass cash bid sent to government

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A bid for money for the Bedford Western Bypass has been submitted to the government.

Whitehall has a £2billion national pot called the Local Growth Fund and has invited 39 local enterprise partnerships across the country to compete for a share of it.

The South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership (SEMLEP), which covers Bedfordshire, has prioritised more than 20 transport and infrastructure projects, including the bypass and a dual carriageway for the section of the A421 linking Milton Keynes with Junction 13 of the M1.

SEMLEP believes its Strategic Economic Plan will by 2020 grow the economy by £10.2billion, create an additional 94,700 jobs and build an extra 70,600 homes across its patch which includes Bedfordshire, Northamptonshire and Milton Keynes.

Dr Ann Limb, who chairs SEMLEP, said: “This is an ambitious five year plan to deliver economic growth in the period up to 2020. We have identified the essential infrastructure that we require to deliver sustainable and balanced growth and have set out our intention to build new homes, grow jobs and ensure we have the skilled workforce needed to fill these positions.”

MPs, university vice chancellors, further education principals and businesses including Silverstone, Santander, Lockheed Martin and General Motors UK have added their signatures of support to SEMLEP’s plan, urging government to embrace the economic contribution the South East Midlands can make to the UK’s overall prosperity.

SEMLEP’s prioritised project list is a result of consultation with local businesses, councils, the voluntary and community sector and overlapping LEPs.

Whitehall is expected to make the funding decisions by July 2014 with the fund being available from April 2015.

The delivery of the programme will be managed and monitored by SEMLEP’s Growth Fund Task Group, which will include representatives of overlapping LEPs.

Alongside funding from the Local Growth Fund SEMLEP has also submitted to government its strategy for how to use £75million of European Funds. Further details will be available later in the year.