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Black Country Businesses Call for Leadership on Transport

Colin Leighfield, Director, B. E. Wedge Holdings Ltd. and Chair of the Black Country Chamber of Commerce Transport Policy Group commented on recent announcements made at the Built Environment conference on Midlands Connect on 26 February 2015 and the launch of National Infrastructure Commission on 3rd February 2015.

“There is a strong case for a nationally representative independent organisation to consider and propose clear integrated strategic transport strategies for the whole of the UK, based upon proper consideration for the regions. It's brief should be to identify optimum co-ordinated transport policy with the objective of delivering maximum long-term economic and social benefit that is sustainable, not skewed by short-term political dogma or vested institutional or regional prejudices.

“Although it could not determine policy, because that is the role of democratically elected government, it should be considered as authoritative with recommendations generally accepted unless there is an unarguable political reason for not doing so.

“We heard this week from a variety of institutions, each with its own time frame and budget framework, each competing within an ever diminishing public pot and each trying to bring coherence to a part of the UK that has become almost paralysed as a result of poor strategic thinking. We fully support Midlands Connect and its strategy to promote economic growth through the development of key transport corridors, but the disconnect between developments such as HS2 and Black Country gridlock, and between rebalancing the economy and a South East centric aviation strategy mystify me.

"We are aware that China is creating High Speed rail links across the Old and New Silk routes thereby joining China up to half the globe and their timescales for achieving this are astounding. The question for me is why we, within the Industrial Heart of the UK, cannot match the Chinese in terms of coherence of vision, implementation and co-ordination?”

Ninder Johal, President of the Black Country Chamber of Commerce, added:
“I don't think that we are expecting too much from our politicians to provide leadership on this issue. Businesses depend upon a clear well thought out strategy that is delivered with minimum fuss. What businesses despise are off the cuff remarks, such as those made recently by the Home Secretary implying that foreign business people attending meetings in the UK will be expected to sign some form of declaration on British Values. This is exactly the small minded, jingoistic point of view that makes it harder for our businesses to trade with the rest of the world. The Home Secretary needs to be reminded of the cost to long term business relationships that her comments might bring.”

Last modified on Monday, 02 March 2015 15:15

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