My hon. Friend will also know that we are committed to identifying and funding early solutions to the long-standing problems on the A27 corridor. Initially, there will be a feasibility study. The A27 corridor study aims to work with local interest groups to identify the opportunities and understand the case for future investment solutions on the corridor. The outputs of the route-based strategy work and the outcomes of the feasibility studies will inform the Department’s roads investment strategy,

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which is currently being developed and put together and which we have committed to publishing by the end of the year.

It is, rightly, widely recognised that the condition and efficiency of local road networks is an essential contributor to economic growth. Practically all journeys start or finish on those networks and they are relied on by local residents and local businesses alike. Responsibility for the maintenance and management of those networks lies with local authorities—in the case of Gosport, that is Hampshire county council—and it is essential that they spend money on that. Funding from the integrated transport block supports those networks, and from 2011-12 to 2014-15 the south-east and south-west will have received some £400 million for local transport schemes.

In addition, in the autumn statement of 2012 we introduced the local pinch point fund, which was designed to target local congestion and to ensure that we help facilitate the creation of jobs and the delivery of new housing. To date, the Department has awarded local authority funding of more than £266 million for 112 schemes across the whole of England, which, along with joint funding, will enable schemes costing more than £511 million to go ahead. One of the schemes being delivered by Hampshire county council is designed to ease congestion for road users in Havant and help to unlock the Dunsbury Hill farm development site, a key employment site between Waterlooville and Havant. Another scheme, which is being delivered by Southampton city council, will ensure that six key bridges in the city remain fit for purpose in the years to come.

Looking to the future, the Government have recently announced plans to create a local growth fund from 2015-16. The pot will be at least £2 billion a year until 2021, and all LEPs across the country—including the Solent LEP, which includes Gosport—will have the opportunity to bid for funding through their strategic economic plans, which are due to be submitted to the Government by the end of this month. Among other things, the fund will allow local people to identify and local authorities to prioritise infrastructure schemes that they deem essential for economic growth in their area.

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I note that one of my hon. Friend’s particular priorities is to improve the traffic flow in her constituency. I urge her to work with the Solent LEP to consider the local growth fund as a possibility for funding schemes that will help deliver that priority.

Caroline Dinenage: I referred in my speech to the £90 million that Hampshire county council will ask the Solent LEP to make when it meets on Friday. That is all part of the scheme mentioned by the Minister, which is about looking at roads in the Gosport and Fareham area, including the A27 corridor, about which he has spoken. I very much hope that the Government will look very favourably on that bid.

Stephen Hammond: I obviously hear my hon. Friend’s plea. As she will know, a number of people will make such a plea.

I was going on to commend my hon. Friend, because the fact that the Solent LEP and Hampshire county council are working together will make their bid to the Government for a grant from this fund more powerful. From this Dispatch Box, as well as in writing and in one-to-one meetings, I have stressed to several colleagues that it is absolutely essential for the local economic partnership and the economic zone to work together, which will certainly achieve a higher priority in assessments. She is right that it is clear that a LEP’s agreement to a scheme ensures that it is most likely to be in the strategic economic plan, and although the process is competitive, it is of course likely that the strongest bids will receive the biggest slices of funding.

In conclusion, I again congratulate my hon. Friend on securing this debate. The powerful case that she has made tonight has reminded us of the importance of an effective transport network for the economy. As I have made clear, this Government are committed to, and have set out plans for, large-scale investments now and in the future to improve local and strategic networks both in rail and on the road and—importantly—across the whole of this country, including the south of England.

Question put and agreed to.

7.38 pm

House adjourned.