Cllr Richard Wenham is the new chair of sub-national transport body, England’s Economic Heartland (EEH).
The leader of Central Bedfordshire Council was elected at EEH’s Strategic Transport Leadership Board on Friday, 24 September 2021.
The leader of Oxfordshire County Council, Cllr Liz Leffman, was elected vice-chair.
England’s Economic Heartland is one of seven sub-national transport bodies (STB) covering England (outside of London). It is funded by its local transport authority members and the Department for Transport.
The EEH covers the region from Swindon across to Cambridgeshire, and Northamptonshire down to Hertfordshire.
Upon being elected, Cllr Wenham said:
“Our region is home to world-leading innovation in science and technology, and a unique natural and historic environment. However, issues with our transport system – which cut across council boundaries – are holding it back.
“That’s why EEH is so important: by collaborating on issues of common interest and speaking with one voice on the region’s priorities, we can secure the transport infrastructure required to enable significant levels of planned economic and housing growth.
“Improving connectivity will support the region compete on the global stage with the likes of Silicon Valley. It will help level-up our own significant pockets of deprivation, while as a net contributor to the Treasury, our tax receipts are also vital to the government’s plans for national-scale levelling up.”
As an STB, EEH’s remit is to advise government on, and secure the investment required to deliver, strategic transport infrastructure priorities that can support economic growth, while moving towards net zero.
It does this through the implementation of its regional transport strategy, which EEH submitted to the Secretary of State for Transport in February 2021.
The strategy was agreed by the region’s political representatives and subject to two rounds of public engagement and an integrated sustainability appraisal.
Cllr Wenham said:
“The prominence of sub-national transport bodies is increasing across the country. We have a key role to play in shaping the work of both National Highways and Network Rail.
“While we are a standalone body, we work closely with partnerships across the region, including the Oxford-Cambridge Arc.”