Deal will help create jobs and grow communities

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A £79.3million investment into the South East Midlands has been given the official go-ahead, with Minister Greg Clark MP signing a Local Growth Deal that will create at least 3,000 jobs and 4,000 new homes in the area by 2021.

SEMLEP, the area’s Local Enterprise Project securing an additional £42.9million which takes the total investment for the South East Midlands to over £122million.

The Minister for Universities and Science signed the £79.3million growth funding package on Friday.

The funding will pay for 10 transport, infrastructure and skills projects in Bedford, Central Bedfordshire, Bletchley, Daventry, Dunstable, Leighton Buzzard, Luton and Milton Keynes.

Mr Clark said: “It is great to be signing this Growth Deal and to be giving the South East Midlands more say in how investment is made in the region. Nobody has a greater commitment to this area than the people who live and work here, and it is only right that local people should be the architects of their own growth.

“The potential in this area is enormous and this deal will ensure we create thousands of jobs, build new homes and help businesses to grow and prosper.”

Dr Ann Limb OBE DL, Chair of SEMLEP, said: “Securing government approval for our multi-million pound investment package is an exciting day for the whole area. This will enable us to target investment where it is most needed, creating more jobs, homes, employment sites and opportunities for local people. It will also help to ensure that our young people can acquire the essential skills to meet the needs of local employers.

“SEMLEP will receive the funding annually in advance from this April. This shows that the government has confidence in the arrangements that are in place for ensuring that these projects are implemented within budget and deliver the expected growth in jobs.”

The investment package includes:

>Dualling a stretch of the A421 (£23.5m) which means that people will be able to drive from Milton Keynes to Bedford on dual carriageway and distribution centres will have better access to the M1. This will create 2,500 new jobs and 2,900 new homes.

>Central Bedfordshire’s Woodside Link (£20m), a new road which will connect Houghton Regis and the industrial estates in Dunstable to the planned new M1 junction 11a and create 5,800 much needed new jobs and 5,150 new homes.

>The Bedford Western Bypass (£2.5m) to reduce the volume of traffic travelling through the town and complete a route that will link the A428 south of Bedford to the A6 north of the town. Work has now started and the project is set to create 1,000 new jobs and 1,300 homes.

>A sustainable travel scheme in Luton and Dunstable (£800,000), being delivered through Central Bedfordshire’s Smarter Routes into Employment programme.

>The Engineering Construction Skills Centre in Leighton Buzzard (£2.5m), which will train young people and adults to work as technicians and create 305 new jobs.

>Improved highway access for London Luton Airport (£1.2m) and the wider business estate which will reduce delays and help passengers get to the airport in time for their flights. This project will create 1,060 new jobs.

>Improved surface access for London Luton Airport (£20m) and its adjacent Century Park, which will help grow airport related activity, the aerospace and high end engineering sectors. Funding will be delivered in 2016/17 and create 5,050 new jobs.