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News Report Page 18 of 21
Publication Date:- 2018-02-17
News reports located on this page = 2.

Record road investment in the North West steps up in 2018

MEMBERS of the public have the opportunity to comment on detailed plans to upgrade the vital Trans Pennine route, between Manchester and Sheffield.

The ₤242 million investment includes improvements to the A57 on the Greater Manchester side; featuring new dual and single carriageways between the M67 and Woolley Bridge. There are also other important improvements along the route with safety and technology improvements either side of Woodhead Pass and a major overhaul of Westwood roundabout in South Yorkshire where the A616 meets the A61.

The consultation started on 12 February 2018 and will close on Sunday, 25 March 2018, with a series of public consultation events planned and a variety of other ways for people to get involved; including by email, post and online.

This is 1 of 3 major scheme milestones which will take place in the North West in the 6 months to June 2018.

The upgrades are funded by the Government's ₤15 billion investment in motorways and main A roads and being delivered by Highways England.

Highways England chief executive Jim O'Sullivan said:- "This upgrade is further evidence of Highways England continuing to deliver the major infrastructure which benefits the North West. It's important that we take all opinions into account so I urge anyone with an interest to make their views known."

Another 2 schemes in the North West will reach key milestones before June 2018. Preliminary work on the M62 Junction 10 to Junction 12 Smart Motorway scheme will begin in March. This scheme which links the M6 near Warrington (Junction 10) to the M60 near Eccles (Junction 12) will add around 10 additional lane miles to the network, increasing capacity, and introduce new technology to tackle congestion and keep drivers informed.

The public will also have the opportunity to find out more about the A585 Windy Harbour scheme near Poulton-le-Fylde in Lancashire. Consultation will take place in March on the proposed bypass of the existing A585, at Little Singleton, improving journey times and safety along this route.

Nationwide, almost 40 projects will hit milestones over the same period, including 7 schemes starting construction and 4 improvements opening to traffic, adding much needed extra capacity to some of the country's busiest roads and improving journeys for millions of drivers. Others will hit crucial points; including:- public consultations that will help shape the proposals, and route announcements.

April will mark 3 years since Highways England embarked on delivering the Government's Road Investment Strategy, the biggest investment in the country's major roads since the 1970's.

The schemes reaching milestones in the first ½ of this year will join the 18 major projects that have already opened to traffic since April 2015. A further 17 are presently in construction. In the North West the new A556 Knutsford to Bowdon bypass opened in March 2017, linking the M56 and the M6. The old road; now the B5569; has been handed over to Cheshire East Council and includes improved facilities for pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders.

Consultation events for the Trans Pennine upgrades are being staged across both sides of the Pennines at:-

► Mottram CofE Primary School Warhill, Mottram, Hyde, SK14 6JL - Saturday, 17 February 2018, noon to 6pm

► Bradbury Community House, Market Street, Glossop, Derbyshire, SK13 8AR - Wednesday, 28 February 2018, 2pm to 8pm

► Tesco, Stockport Road, Hattersley, Hyde, SK14 6QA - Saturday, 3 March 2018, 11am to 5pm

► Tankersley Welfare Hall, Pilley Lane, Tankersley, Barnsley, S75 3AP - Monday, 5 March 2018, midday to 6pm

► St Mary's Church, Market Street, Hollingworth, Hyde, SK14 8NE - Friday, 9 March 2018, 11am to 5pm

► Mottram Community Centre, Church Brow, Mottram, Hyde, SK14 6JJ - Saturday, 10 March 2018, 11am to 5pm

As well as the public exhibitions, paper response forms and consultation brochures are now available at locations open to the public and can be handed in at these events or sent to the freepost address provided on the form. Further information about the proposals and full details of the deposit locations, which include some local Post Offices and Libraries, are available online.

Anyone who wants more information or to give their views on the scheme can also email the project team or call:- 0300 123 5000, Highways England's Customer Care Centre.

Apprenticeship Levy needs urgent reform to deliver apprentice targets

THE Apprenticeship Levy will not deliver the 3 million apprenticeships targeted by the Government without urgent change, according to a report from The 5% Club, an employer organisation whose members aspire to have 5% of their workforce in formal training programmes.

In its latest paper:- "Fulfilling our potential: Delivering the apprentices the economy needs" based on interviews with a cross section of its members, The 5% Club sets out employers' current concerns with the Levy. More importantly, it also spells out the Levy reforms which its members believe are urgently needed to boost training and deliver the career opportunities and highly skilled workforce required post Brexit.

According to the report:-

The Levy will have little impact on the number of apprentices taken on in the short to medium term.

Apprenticeships are still seen as 2nd best by many Schools: the provision of career guidance setting out the full range of education training options is not working.

► Accessing good quality specialist training locally is 1 of the key barriers to taking on more apprentices, especially outside London and the Southeast.

► Apprenticeship Levy should be focussed on areas of the economy, and of the country, where skills training is most needed, rather than the current catchall approach.

► Expenses such as travel to Training Centres or paying for accommodation can make some apprenticeships untenable; companies should be allowed to use the Levy funds to cover these essential expenses.

► Failure to approve new apprenticeships in a timely manner is damaging recruitment of new apprentices, since Levy cannot be claimed until an apprenticeship has been approved.

► Levy should be allowed to be spent on shared apprenticeships; where an apprentice is employed and trains across a number of small businesses, thus allowing companies which are too small to employ a full time apprentice to support training.

► Other measures should be considered to improve social mobility, for example, those employers offering opportunities for young people with poor School results could be provided with extra funding to support them.

Penny Cobham CBE, Director General of The 5% Club, said:- "The Apprenticeship Levy has the potential to be transformational to many people's career chances; and to our future as a global trading nation. But it clearly isn't working in its current form and we urgently needed to revamp the Levy so that employers can provide the apprenticeships so vital to prosperity across the UK."

The paper, which has been produced following interviews and consultation with a range of The 5% Club's members, representing different sectors and business sizes, builds on its previous 2 papers; Providing the Skilled Workforce for post Brexit Britain and Bridges and Ladders: social mobility and a skilled workforce.

To read the paper in full, please click here.

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