Devolution or 'Evil'ution for Construction Projects

The ‘should we shouldn’t we’ (and which airport) debate on an extra runway in the South East has recently sparked questions around the government's multi-billion pound planned investment. The big question and staunch arguments remain as to what actually is the likely return from outside investment into our shores, and what tangible evidence as to where previous investment has made sizeable gains? (For an overview on the salient points from the Davies report click here.]

Much has been made of this government, like those before, being too London centric, focussing their efforts on this additional runway, along with the highly contentious HS2 project. Living on the fringes of the West Midlands and North West, I often find myself travelling the lengths and breadths of the country with my job, I have been buoyed by the news around the investment awarded to Liverpool and Manchester regions. 

We will have to see whether devolution of our towns and cities is ultimately the correct course of action in the long run. So far positive noise would seem to have outweighed the negative in trialling the scheme in Sheffield. Coupled with the investment in Liverpool, after the Queens speech in early June, Manchester has already moved forward with multi billion pound development pipelines. The lowly results that continue to be reported by the Department of Transport on Network Rails performance have further put into question the industry’s need to regionalise projects. 

Although not controlled by local or government rule, Manchester Airports Group has recently confirmed a £1bn investment into their existing three terminals over the coming 10 years. Collectively these will ultimately lead to additional and improved rail, highway and tunnel projects, along with much-needed improvements to schools, around the whole of the North West. 

Surely the investment in all of the above, together with the maligned and likely stalled HS3 project, will bring further investment into the northern half of the country. Will further devolution contribute to the speeding up of construction work, with local councils being more aware of where budgets need to be spent quickest? Conversely, will this extra layer of government decision making, through the reintroduction of Town Mayors, create more bureaucracy? From recent reading, my question is, would further local referendums result in the required reintroduction of these elected mayors, given that in 2012 the resulted was rejection in 9 of the 11 cities?

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