GOVERNMENTS over the centuries have recognised the political value of investment in infrastructure and more recently also the economic case.
In terms of economics, successful projects have, themselves, created employment and revenue but, more lasting, has been the impact they had have on the wider economy.
The Coalition Government’s expenditure commitment of £45 million in redoubling the railway for the Stroud-Swindon route has stimulated employment but will have a major impact on investment in the Valleys and Vale for decades to come.
Furthermore, it is part of a scheme to modernise the entire railway network. Passenger numbers have increased dramatically so rail capacity and train speed must be increased.
There is more to do in the Valleys and Vale. Sharpness is an economically almost self-contained village with several longstanding businesses and a port moving almost 600,000 tonnes of bulk material annually.
It has, however, considerable potential and this could be released by reconnecting it to the Forest of Dean by a new Severn crossing.
Such a bridge would stimulate existing economic activity in tourism and industry but also, by creating new travel routes and, therefore, ‘growth areas’ (growth poles in economic parlance), new jobs and investment opportunities.
The links with other nearby towns – Dursley, Berkeley and Cam in the Vale – would bring added investment to these places as well.
Travel to work distances and employment patterns also provoke debate about infrastructure.
Local employment in manufacturing is extraordinarily high - accounting for some 24% of all jobs – and, together with all other jobs, this amounts to significant commuter activity.
Making it easier to use public transport is the obvious antidote to road congestion.
To this end, there is a strong case for moving Stonehouse railway station in order to enable passengers to change lines at Stonehouse with the effect of creating a direct line from the Stroud area to Bristol.
This would be good for existing commuters and would be a catalyst for the creation of more employment.
In short, by investing in these forms of infrastructure projects several economic objectives could be met in a sustainable way. Watch this space.