COMMUTERS in Hampshire may see improvements to major routes after a £1 million government grant was awarded to a cross-council roads body

Transport for the South East (TfSE) has been given the cash in a bid to improve journey times and links to other parts of the country, which could include major roads like the M27 and M3 motorways.

The investment will help the regional group gain official status as a statutory body, allowing it to develop transport strategies with its 16 partnering councils and five local enterprise partnerships covering an area that stretches from Hampshire and the Isle of Wight to Surrey and Kent.

Councillor Rob Humby, cabinet member for environment and transport at Hampshire County Council, who has sat on the board of Transport for the South East from the outset, said: “This is an important step by the government to recognise the impact of a fit-for-purpose transport infrastructure in the South East on the national economy.

“I was pleased to hear secretary of state for transport, Chris Grayling, is supporting our emerging sub-regional transport body with a further £1 million – on top of the £100,00 awarded in the previous financial year.

This is particularly timely as we work on finalising strategies and priorities for targeting further government investment in our area’s transport infrastructure.

“Hampshire has been part of this initiative right from the start. As a significant contributor to the national economy, effective transport infrastructure in the South East is essential.

“With major motorways and national routes running through the county, and important rail freight links between the Midlands and the Port of Southampton – the gateway to international markets, the right investment in road and rail infrastructure is essential.

“Securing improvements to these networks, which are already close to capacity, is essential for the future prosperity not only of Hampshire and the South East, but also the whole country.”

The area covered by TfSE includes 7.5 million residents and more than 24,000 miles of road while its ports collectively handle 81 million tonnes of freight each year.

Chairman of TfSE Cllr Keith Glazier said: “If we speak with a single voice we’ll have more power to direct investment in the transport network where it’s most urgently needed, including in Portsmouth and Hampshire.

“The funding is a great vote of confidence in the work we’re doing to transform transport for people and businesses in the south east. Our success benefits the whole UK because this region adds £200 billion a year to the national economy.

“There are clear benefits for the whole country in carefully planned investment in the south east’s transport network. This review shows that even modest improvements in capacity and journey time will lead to significant rises in productivity for business and in quality of life for the travelling public.

“Yet there is no single body to co-ordinate long-term transport strategy across the south east. Our partnership is ready to provide that.”