MP Anthony Mangnall: We need to start work on outstanding infrastructure projects
- Credit: Archant
The Prime Minister has announced to the nation his approach to ending the lockdown. It is welcome that this will be done through close monitoring of the R-value and that it will be done sector-by-sector.
However, we are by no means out of the woods yet and I am conscious that many of the many businesses who were first to close their doors are likely to be the last out of lockdown.
They will undoubtedly need further support and I am a strong advocate of a flexible furloughing scheme that is extended for those sectors that are asked to stay closed.
Firing up the economy will be all the harder if we have to go to enter isolation again, so caution and care are essential.
To assist that economic revival, we need to begin work on the outstanding infrastructure projects that have all too often been discussed but have yet to be delivered.
Because if we start now then our chances of returning to pre-Covid levels and improving upon them become that much better.
Our roads have fallen into disrepair and proving dangerous for drivers and cyclists alike.
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The Chancellor has made available £2.5 billion to help repair our roads and fill in our potholes.
Let's make use of that, widen the contractor network, and start the work to fill those puncture inducing potholes.
The Road Investment Strategy fund of £27 billion is there to be used and will see some 4,000 miles of roads repaired, expanded and developed including the A303.
If this is to have any meaningful impact and help our economic recovery, then we need to see swift and speedy action rather than delay and deferral. My colleague Kevin Foster and I have both been acutely aware of the value of improved rail links and we have been working together to identify new opportunities to open stations, improve lines and introduce new routes.
These are not pipe-dreams but realistic opportunities that should be seized upon so that we can remove freight and commuter traffic from the road, improve air quality and combat climate change.
This crisis has all too clearly shown 'the haves and have nots' when it comes to digital connectivity.
Our own beloved Bay has blackout spots that never cease to surprise and frustrate you in equal measures. This must be improved upon. BT's announcement at rolling out their 'hard to reach areas' in Brixham earlier this year is welcome, but it must go further and faster.
The levelling up agenda of this Government has rightly identified the above three areas as a high priority.
We must now work together to see them delivered because the sooner we can then more likely we are to see business not just return to normal but improve.
Covid-19 has seen many of us work from home, a reality that I believe will become more commonplace.
Why travel to a meeting when you can do it more efficiently from home and with the possession of a mute button?
That means a decentralisation from our major cities and offers us an opportunity to capitalise upon.