Regional Planning and Development: North of England

Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities written question – answered on 23rd May 2022.

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Photo of Greg Knight Greg Knight Conservative, East Yorkshire

To ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, what further plans he has to ensure levelling up of northern rural areas includes improving (a) road transportation links and (b) internet connectivity; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Neil O'Brien Neil O'Brien Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)

The Government has made progress towards spreading opportunity around the country since 2019, alongside mitigating the worst effects of the pandemic, with £5 billion for Project Gigabit to bring gigabit-capable broadband to 85% of the UK by 2025, and the £1 billion Shared Rural Network deal with mobile operators delivering 4G coverage to 95% of the UK by the end of 2025. Gigabit coverage has increased from 10% to over 60% in less than two years, and public investment will target premises that are hardest to reach, ensuring no areas are left behind.

In the last twelve months, gigabit-capable network coverage has almost doubled in Yorkshire and quadrupled in the North East. To ensure that rural areas are supported, our procurements for rural areas where commercial roll-out may not occur are already live in several parts of the North, including Cumbria and the North East, offering hundreds of millions of pounds of support to suppliers who are helping us to level up.

The Government is also clear that well maintained local road networks are a key form of local transport. The Government is already investing more than £5 billion from 2020 to 2025 for highways maintenance to local highways authorities across England, enough to fill millions of potholes a year, repair dozens of bridges and resurface hundreds of roads up and down the country. This is in addition to the £2.6 billion to deliver over 50 road upgrades and builds on our commitment to accelerate delivery of the A66, ensuring that it is open for traffic five years sooner than the original plan.

As set out in the Levelling Up White Paper, Government is providing £51 million for smaller local transport improvements across the North West, as well as £280 million for local roads maintenance between 2022-23 and 2024-25 to local authorities not receiving City Region Sustainable Transport Settlements. In Yorkshire and the Humber, £194 million has been committed for local roads maintenance between 2022-23 and 2024-25, and £33 million for transport improvements across the region. The Government has invested over £40 million in highways maintenance schemes through the former York, North Yorkshire, and East Riding Local Enterprise Partnership’s Growth Deal, including £16.7 million in the East Riding of Yorkshire. In addition, through our Getting Building Fund programme, the Government has invested over £2 million in a Hull and East Yorkshire Highways Resilience Programme, £6m to deliver reconstruction of the A19 at Chapel Haddlesey in the Selby district, and up to £3.6 million to support a North Yorkshire digital infrastructure programme.

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