Midlands Connect has signed a new collaboration agreement with the UK government, consolidating its position as the sub-national transport body for the Midlands and as a trusted partner, adding value and bringing a collective voice from the Midlands region.
Midlands Connect says it is laser-focused on two core functions: to develop and maintain a transport strategy for the Midlands region; and to use this strategy to provide advice to the secretary of state about what investments should be prioritised.
This, they say, is particularly important as the UK sets its vision in the transport decarbonisation plan, on how best to move people and goods both around the UK and internationally to support economic recovery whilst addressing climate change.
As part of the agreed collaboration agreement, Midlands Connect commits to supporting the Department for Transport in tackling big strategic challenges including freight, decarbonisation, rural connectivity, alternative fuels and others - focusing on the region-specific aspects of such challenges where Midlands Connect can add most value.
Through the collaboration agreement, central government/national bodies commit to:
- Working openly and constructively with Midlands Connect at all levels;
- Ensuring that the Midlands Connect strategic transport plan is understood across government in the context of national decision making;
- Providing a formal response from to future/updated Midlands Connect transport plans;
- Facilitating regular dialogue between Midlands Connect, and ministers regarding progress of the agreed priorities within the Midlands Connect transport strategy.
Transport minister Baroness Vere said: “The work of Midlands Connect is vital – local bodies know what’s best for their region, and where our investment will have the biggest impact as we level up transport and build back better. That’s why I’m delighted to sign the collaboration agreement between Midlands Connect and the Department for Transport, so we can work together on the region's priorities and improve the lives of people in the Midlands.”
Midlands Connect CEO Maria Machancoses added: "This is a landmark moment for Midlands Connect as we are the first transport body to sign this type of agreement with the Department for Transport. It's something we have worked tirelessly to get right and it will be the foundation of our relationship in the years ahead. Today is the day that Midlands Connect has really grown up and become a true leader in transport policy.
"The guiding principle of this agreement is that people living and working in the Midlands, as represented by the region's business and political leaders, believe that collaboration with the government will help us shape its decisions on what initiatives to support and where to invest. Ultimately we want to make our transport networks more sustainable, and provide lasting, positive effects on the economy, the environment and the people of the Midlands. Our partnership as a region, and with government is strong and this agreement will make it even stronger.”