East of England: Roadmap for economic growth revealed

A new roadmap for the economic future of the East of England has been outlined in Parliament.

The plan said the region needs to remove railway bottlenecks, phase out dial-up internet and boost rural businesses if it is to maximise growth.

MPs, business leaders and councillors attended a Parliamentary reception on Tuesday to discuss the plan.

Mid Norfolk MP George Freeman said implementing the plan would be a fitting tribute to Sir David Amess.

According to the Local Democracy Reporting Service, the report said bottlenecks in the region’s railway lines had created “challenges” to the local economy.

It said cash boosts were needed at two crucial railway junctions, namely Haughley, near Stowmarket in Suffolk, and at Ely in Cambridgeshire.

It also argued that councils must be given more freedom and flexibility with how they fund themselves.

Many councils rely heavily on income generation through tourism, car parking charges and planning processes, it said. These revenue streams had been severely hit by Covid-19, the report said.

Some parts of the region were still reliant on dial-up internet, which the report said contributed to “digital exclusion experienced by our most hard-to-reach households during the pandemic”.

It said the government should commit to high-speed broadband across the region.

The report also looked at climate change and investment in “left-behind” communities.

Mr Freeman, the Conservative MP who is also the government’s science minister, said: “It would be a fitting tribute to Sir David Amess MP to build an inclusive eastern England so everyone – from windiest Norfolk to muddiest Essex and the north of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough – feels part of the innovation economy that is so crucial to our future.”