Leicestershire travel improvements using £238million of former HS2 funding will not be 'an overnight fix' say county bosses

Detailed work must be undertaken before the cash is allocated
The improvements will include pothole fixing.The improvements will include pothole fixing.
The improvements will include pothole fixing.

Some £238million of former HS2 funding which will now be used on improving travel across Leicestershire will not be an ‘overnight fix’ and expectations must be ‘managed’.

Leicestershire County Council is set to receive the transport funding, which was originally allocated for HS2.

It will be available from April 2025 until 2032 and the authority says it will be used to fix roads, support cycling, walking and bus travel, tackle road safety and congestion and boost green travel.

But highways spokesman Cllr Ozzy O’Shea says much detailed work must be carried out before the cash can be allocated to local projects.

He said: “While we hugely welcome the extra funding, it’s not going to be an overnight fix of everything out there, so we do need to manage expectations.“First, we need detailed government guidance on how much we’ll get each year – and what we do know is that the allocations will be lower in the earlier years.“We have priorities all over the county where we might want to deliver schemes, but we need to work through this and make sure we are delivering the improvements that give the greatest benefit to our communities.”The former HS2 Network North money has also brought in an additional £2.25m for pothole fixing and repairing other highway defects. This is on top of £32m – a combination of money allocated by the council and maintenance grant from the Department for Transport – already earmarked for the coming financial year.Mr O’Shea added: “What we do know, is that from 2025 onwards, there will be more allocations for maintenance work and, hopefully, we can then begin to provide some serious investment to improve our highways network. We are already among the top performing councils when it comes to residents’ satisfaction with the condition of our roads, despite the ongoing challenge posed by more defects. This extra funding will help us to do more in the areas most in need.”

Leicestershire County Council’s cabinet will consider next Tuesday (March 26) whether to approve developing a long-term plan for the funding and wider consultation.The former HS2 funding is part of a £2.2billion allocation in the Midlands, and £2.5billion in the North, to improve transport connections, focusing on smaller cities, towns, and rural areas.

Decisions on how to spend the money will be made by local councils and transport authorities, and government says communities must be involved to ensure the money is spent quickly and effectively.

Government says by making the funding available from 2025 councils will have the time to draw up plans so they are ‘ready to go’.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced in October that the High Speed rail link between the Midlands and Manchester would be scrapped and the funding would be reallocated.

The decision prompted anger from political leaders and businesses. Labour mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham accused the government of “disrespecting people across the whole of the North”, while the Conservative West Midlands mayor Andy Street warned getting rid of HS2 would amount to “cancelling the future”.

But government says over seven years the funding is nine times more than the local authorities would currently receive and will benefit people and places more than HS2 would have.