09 July 2018

Mayor of Bedford Borough, Dave Hodgson, has been elected chairman of England's Economic Heartland's Strategic Transport Forum.

The Forum is the emerging Sub-national Transport Body for the Heartland region, which stretches from Swindon, through Oxfordshire and Milton Keynes to Cambridgeshire, and from Northamptonshire down to Hertfordshire.

It meets in public five times a year to discuss and agree England's Economic Heartland's approach to strategic transport issues. The Forum's membership includes political representatives from all of the region's transport authorities, alongside local enterprise partnerships, growth boards, the Department for Transport, Network Rail, Highways England and transport operators.

Mayor Dave said: "The Government has made realising the massive economic potential of the Oxford-Milton Keynes-Cambridge corridor a national priority, but that can only be achieved through the right investment in transport infrastructure, in the right places and at the right time. This is why the Forum is so important - it provides strategic leadership for the area, speaking with one voice to Government to deliver the infrastructure that will support the doubling or even tripling of the region's economy.

"I am delighted to be chairing the Forum at what is a pivotal time. Later this year we will be publishing our emerging proposals for a Transport Strategy for the Heartland, a crucial document that will act as a blueprint for investment over the next three decades. We are continuing to work to help bring forward and shape key infrastructure projects such as East West Rail and the Oxford to Cambridge expressway. We will also be working to influence major new policies on aviation, road and rail, and to establish ourselves as a Sub-national Transport Body similar to Transport for the North.

"I also want the Forum to continue to champion the needs of existing transport users. Getting new infrastructure is one thing, but the future prosperity of this region will also depend on improving or at least maintaining what we already have."

Mayor Dave has served as the directly-elected mayor of Bedford Borough since 2009.