PM promises to 'build build build' but what is being built in the West Country?

Boris Johnson has promised investment to aid the economy's recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic. Credit: PA Images

Boris Johnson promised to 'build build build' to help the economic recovery after the Coronavirus pandemic eases. He has pledged to improve the nation's infrastructure and schools, build more hospitals and create new jobs.

The economic backdrop to all of this is a bleak one with the economy struggling because of the Coronavirus lockdown, but Mr Johnson is not just hoping that his plan unveiled in the Midlands today will help the country rebuild after the virus but change the country in the longer term to make it fairer for people in the long term and focuses on his 'levelling up' agenda that he promoted during last year's general election.

Boris Johnson promised to 'build build build' to kick-start the economy following coronavirus. Credit: PA Images

The Prime Minister announced £5bn worth of spending on roads, schools, hospitals and courts as well as the creation of an Infrastructure Delivery Taskforce (named Project Speed) to ensure public investment is spent on the right projects and that they can be built quicker.

Mr Johnson has also promised to transform the planning system and also ensure that the recovery from coronavirus is a green one.

However, the exact local detail of what this means is only slowly coming out, but the Government says in the West Country it adds up to £103m worth of spending.

£103m

the total spending Boris Johnson has promised for the West Country

So far the Government has said it is planning:

  • A38 Chelston Link repairs

  • A380 Teign Viaduct – The proposed scheme comprises a major maintenance scheme to renew or upgrade assets along a six mile stretch of the A380. Proposed works include resurfacing, drainage, bridge waterproofing, joint replacement, bridge vulnerability and Road Restraint System works.

  • A46 Coopers Hill repairs

There is also cash to make Cornwall's roads more resilient and maintain commuter roads in South Gloucestershire.

In all the Government has pledged a little more than £23m for these road schemes. 

Ministers are also considering transforming the Newquay line, reopen Charfield station, and reinstate the Bodmin to Wadebridge railway, which was affected by the Beeching cuts in the 1960s.

Labour is very critical of Mr Johnson's "New Deal", with Plymouth Sutton & Devonport MP Luke Pollard saying the PM should be focusing on "Jobs Jobs Jobs".

He says: "The south west does not get our fair share of funding and a few flagship projects may attract headlines but do not make up for a decade of cuts and unfairness.

"I want to see a long-term plan for investing in our region’s infrastructures from road and rail to homes and hospitals and meaningful investment to deliver it.

"This Government is better at headlines than delivery and our country cannot afford more dither and delay and certainly not more cuts."

But the Government says now is the right time to invest in our economy and the PM says the country needs to be "ambitious".

Boris Johnson says: "As the country begins the recovery from Covid-19, we need to get on the front foot and invest in infrastructure in every region to reignite the economy, helping better connect people with work and leisure in the future.

"By investing £100million in local roads and reaffirming our commitment to better connecting communities, we are not just talking about levelling up – but making it happen."There is also a promise of cash for many of our towns including Swinson, Camborne, Bridgwater and Glastonbury. 

Boris Johnson struck an optimistic tone today and will hope his speech is a turning point in our Coronavirus legacy, however he also urged caution warning there are still 'dark days ahead'.

He knows that any long term economic recovery relies on us all beating the Coronavirus.