NORTH Shropshire MP Owen Paterson has led a meeting calling for greater cross-border connectivity between Wales and England that was ‘heard in the heart of Whitehall’ about the Union Connectivity Review.

Mr Paterson was joined by Shropshire councillor Steve Davenport, cabinet member for highways at Shropshire Council and representative for Whittington, Midlands Connect director Maria Machancoses and Sir Peter Hendy CBE, chair of the Union Connectivity Review, to discuss the review with Department for Transport officials.

The Union Connectivity Review will make recommendations on how the UK government can change transport infrastructure and improve connectivity between Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and England, boosting access to opportunities and improving people’s everyday connections.

Mr Paterson said he was backing his government's plans to improve connectivity.

He added: “The government's proposal to improve connectivity between the regions of the UK with a network of key strategic roads similar to the European TEN model is a really good initiative which I totally support.

“The A5 links the Republic of Ireland, the industrial areas of North Wales, North West England and Merseyside with the West Midlands with the South and Eastern and Channel ports to Europe.

“It is a key strategic road which is totally inadequate.

"We had a good meeting with Sir Peter and agreed to write to him strongly the supporting this initiative.”

The roundtable focused on strategic road and rail improvements that would alleviate the issues that affect cross-border journeys between Wales and England.

Previous studies including the Midlands Connect/ Shropshire Council ‘Cross Border Strategy’ (2019) and The Marches Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) Strategic Transport Corridors in the Marches Report (2016) have highlighted the lengthy journey times and significant safety concerns that have negatively impacted on the wellbeing of both urban and rural cross-border communities.

Upgrades to the existing network would also support the freight and logistics sector. The current routes to the Port of Holyhead in Wales, a strategic international gateway serving the UK, Ireland and wider Europe, struggle with the current levels of traffic.

Ms Machancoses added: “The Midlands is at the heart of the UK and our recommendations to the Union Connectivity Review highlight the critical transport routes that require funding.

"In the last five years, we have worked with our partners to make the case for greater cross-border connectivity, unlocking the economic potential of the

“The discussions with the Sir Peter Hendy were positive and we look forward to continuing our engagement with his officials and the Department for Transport.”