In conversation with Laura Church
What steps has Luton Borough Council taken to drive local growth and inward investment in the area?
Luton Borough Council has published the Luton Investment Framework as an ambitious plan to drive the economy of the town for the benefit of local residents and businesses. This plan has already led to investment in housing at Marsh Farm; a £2.9m investment in skills; £3.2m to support Vauxhall to remain in Luton and a red carpet treatment for potential investors. The programme is already seeing an increase in private sector jobs and wage level increases in the town.
What are the key infrastructure challenges you expect to face in the coming years?
A key challenge of getting passengers to London Luton Airport quickly from the Luton Parkway station to the airport is already in progress. This is a £225m investment by London Luton Airport Ltd, the company owned by the Council. Luton is a dense urban area and so our key challenge is getting the best out of our network and encouraging use of alternatives to the car through public transport, walking and cycling. We are looking forward to learning from some of our partners in England’s Economic Heartland about work on Mobility As A Service.
What one thing would you change about the public sectors approach to delivering sustainable infrastructure?
Not having to be involved in competitive bidding rounds to progress priorities. This is a key message from members of the Association of Directors of Environment, Economy and Transport. We are also keen to explore and develop alternative funding options for infrastructure, as an example, we are keen to explore how Air Passenger Duty could be reinvested back into the local area to support better surface access to the airport.
What are your key priorities moving forward into 2018?
Key priorities are about ensuring that we are upskilling local residents to benefit from the jobs being created. Our Aspiration Centre is currently on tour round the Borough showing job and training opportunities. We will also be developing our work with Vauxhall for the new jobs being created at the plant. I would also like to get agreement with Network Rail and Train Operators on the long awaited improvements at Luton Station!
Laura Church is the Corporate Director of Place and Infrastructure at Luton Borough Council, and will be speaking on Leveraging local infrastructure to unlock growth at the Public Sector Show on 26th June, at ExCel London.