Council leader call to keep up regeneration pressure

THURROCK Council Leader Cllr John Kent has welcomed the news that the local enterprise partnership (LEP) – which covers the geographical areas of Essex, Kent and East Sussex – is saying projects in Thurrock are a key part of its £1.2 billion bid for growth funding.

The government has said funding for projects will now come through local enterprise partnerships and Cllr Kent said Thurrock had been working closely with authorities across south Essex to provide a co-ordinated approach.

He said: “We now have to make sure we keep the pressure up. Businesses, local councils and MPs across what’s known as Thames Gateway South Essex (TGSE) – which includes Thurrock, Basildon, Castle Point, Rochford and Southend – must ensure government ministers and civil servants as well as our partners elsewhere in the LEP are constantly reminded of the critical role we are playing.

“I am really looking forward to continuing the fruitful and exciting work we have been doing with our TGSE partners – one of the four area partnerships within overall South East LEP area.”

He added: “Without the funding for projects in Thurrock and across south Essex, the future of many of our exciting planned regeneration schemes will be on a less firm footing.

“Take the A13, for example. Part of the Thurrock, TGSE and the overall South East LEP bid is for £80 million to pay for the road’s widening to carry the traffic from London Gateway.

“We have secured £11 million, but it is a national project which needs national financing.”

Cllr Kent said: “The TGSE is asking for £196 million from the Strategic Local Growth Fund over the coming months, backed up by local authority investment of £400 million.

“We in Thurrock Council have provided many millions – through direct funding and especially through land, for the Purfleet project and the new college in Grays for example.

“This was an integral part of the South East Local Enterprise Partnership’s overall application showing how the A13 corridor links the nationally important ports of Tilbury and London Gateway with London.

“As we know in Thurrock, the A13 corridor is the largest single growth opportunity in the whole of the South East and one which already benefits from major planned and committed private investment totalling billions of pounds – London Gateway, the Port of Tilbury, Thames Enterprise Park, Lakeside, and Purfleet as well as the Canvey Gateway – exciting growth and important jobs at each.

“And it’s not just the £80 million for the widening, the bid also includes transport improvements to provide improved access to Canvey, to sort out the A129 pinch point at the Woodmans Arms junction, the various improvements to transport around Lakeside and Grays, the London Gateway/Stanford-le-Hope transport improvement scheme, cycling network improvements, and the Thurrock Integrated Transport Programme.”

He said: “Without this, and more, the government and our partners across the LEP will be putting a bright and prosperous future for us all at risk – we must not let that happen.

“We must maintain the pressure.”

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