Dualling of the A5 and investment in the A49 and the M54/M6 link is vital if the economy of the Marches and the wider Midlands is to thrive.
That was the message to Transport Secretary Chris Grayling MP when he attended an event hosted by the Marches Local Enterprise Partnership.
The LEP, the private sector-led organisation which works with local councils in Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin and Herefordshire to drive job creation and business growth, was briefing MPs and Ministers on its transport priorities at the House of Commons last week.
North Shropshire MP Owen Paterson welcomed guests to the House of Commons reception which was attended by the county’s MPs Mark Pritchard, Daniel Kawcynski, Philip Dunne as well as Roads Minister Jesse Norman, Mid Wales MP Glyn Davies and representatives from Highways England and Powys County Council.
Chairman of the Marches LEP, Graham Wynn, told Mr Grayling: “Part of our strategy is the way we have been working across borders, with colleagues here in the Marches, with Midlands Connect and Mid Wales to find out where the blockers to growth are for our businesses.
“We’re delighted that the North West Relief Road is being supported, but we also need investment in the A5, dualling it will make a huge difference to not only our businesses but also to our visitor economy.
“The A49 is a really important trunk road and we need the M54 connectivity to the M6 too. Investment in these roads will make sure our economy, as well as that of the Midlands and Wales, will reap the benefit.”
Mr Grayling praised the LEP for bringing partners from all three local authorities, Mid Wales and the Midlands together for the discussion.
“It is really good to see you working with colleagues across borders. I’m keen to hear about what your priorities are, and what will make the biggest difference to the Marches,” he added.
The event, which also saw the launch of the LEP’s Strategic Economic Plan, heard from Nigel Brinn of Powys County Council who highlighted the joint freight strategy already developed by the Marches and Mid Wales and work being done on the A5/A483/A458 cross border study.
Telford & Wrekin Council’s Dominic Proud briefed MPs on the M54/M6 link being strategically important for business across the Marches, Black Country and Wales as well as the planned M54 Junction 5/A442 scheme.
Shrewsbury’s North West Relief Road is expected to be completed by 2023/4 and will unlock sites to pave the way for 3,500 homes and 50 hectares of employment land by 2036.