Stamford and Bourne MP Gareth Davies focuses on decisions on HS2, net zero and town funding
Grantham and Stamford MP Gareth Davies says recent decisions have put rural areas at the centre of government thinking. He writes:
I know that there has been quite a lot in the news around various announcements on net zero, HS2, and town funding in recent weeks.
While these changes may seem unrelated on the face of it, they were not random declarations. Rather, they reflect deliberate decisions being taken with a common theme: putting the needs of rural communities at the centre of this country’s long-term thinking. In short, they are good news for areas like ours.
This was epitomised by the announcement of a more pragmatic approach to net zero. While we of course want to preserve our local environment for future generations, we also know that most local commuters rely on cars and many local households rely on off-grid heating sources, so the right balance must be found.
In meetings and through correspondence, constituents have been clear that an approach which prices people out of a car to get to work, or a boiler to heat their home, cannot be right or best — especially not for areas like ours.
So, it was the right decision to allow people more time to choose the option that makes the most sense for them, rather than pushing to hit premature targets on electric vehicles (EVs) and heat pumps. Indeed, where heat pumps are most impractical, as I know they can be for some local homes, it was sensible to add an exemption from making a switch at all.
Meanwhile, efforts are being redoubled to make environmentally friendly options more affordable and practical, such as through increased grants and urgent work to expand EV charging infrastructure, with our area already securing a share of a £10 million EV charging fund.
Similarly, the other side of the coin of the decision to curtail HS2, was a decision to provide more practical and immediate support for public transportation in areas like ours. Instead of allowing the runaway costs of connecting three cities to continue, every penny saved is being reallocated to enhance multiple modes of transport across the north, including £9.6 billion for the Midlands. This means more potholes will be fixed, council transport funding will receive a significant uplift, bus services will improve, and regional rail will be upgraded.
In all of this, we are building on a strong base. On the back of my longstanding and ongoing campaign, our stretch of the A1 has seen the highest level of funding of anywhere in the Midlands. Over the last three years, successful local bids have provided our area with significant targeted funding. £3.9 million has been allocated to South Kesteven through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund, as well as £500,000 from the Rural England Prosperity Fund, and the £5.6 million in Future High Street funding, boosting proposals for a welcoming key gateway from Grantham Station and the creation of an improved market space in the heart of our town.
Our towns, our villages, and our rural communities are the beating heart of our country. They are the source of its vibrancy and vitality, and they are rightly being represented at the heart of the Government.