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Hammond backs transport schemes after savings found

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Nine local transport projects have been given the go-ahead after the councils involved found savings of £45.5m.

Transport secretary Philip Hammond said the savings were equivalent to 14% of the original costs, and the projects were ones with “very high value for money, or large local contributions, that we wished to support”.

But the councils still had to find the savings before government funds would be contributed.

The largest project is the £129.2m extension of the Midland Metro light rail service through Birmingham city centre, to which the Department for Transport will contribute £75.4m

Other successful bids are: Leeds station southern access; Mansfield public transport interchange; Thornton to Switch Island link (Sefton); Ipswich ‘fit for the 21st century’ sustainable transport package; improvements to M5 junction 29 east of Exeter; Heysham to M6 link road, bypassing Lancaster;  improvements to the A57 at Todwick (Rotherham); Taunton northern inner distributor road.

Mr Hammond said he was still considering a funding proposal from Halton BC for the Mersey Gateway Bridge.

He also announced that 23 schemes would join the 22 already in the DfT ‘development pool’ on which funding decisions will be made by the end of the year.

That left 11 schemes in a ‘pre-qualification pool’. Mr Hammond said: “I would urge promoters of [these] schemes to consider whether further investment in the development of these schemes would be in the best interests of local council tax payers.”

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