The latest from the Black Country 

Incoherent Transport Policy is Costing Businesses Billions

 MG 1049Following up on the Secretary of State for Transport’s sacking of the Network Rail Chief Executive, Colin Leighfield, Chair of the Black Country Chamber of Commerce Transport Group followed up his press release on 2nd July by saying: “Some of the Secretary of State’s announcement on Network Rail CP5 Investment Programme is disturbing. We now believe that rail infrastructure is overspent and investment plans for 2015-20 will be deferred to 2020-25. If this is true it means that projects to improve transport infrastructure and unleash economic growth such as Midlands Connect will not even be considered for another ten years. This is completely unacceptable especially at a time when the Secretary of State for Transport has accepted the Davies Commission recommendation to expand Heathrow and with it the £5 billion on rerouting the UK’s busiest road, the M25. We do not know if the £5 billion includes the cost of a tunnel but it represents more than six times the annual capital spend on the West Midlands public transport infrastructure.

“We have criticised politically driven prejudice towards the Northern strategy: it appears that the Midlands Engine is now being held in complete disregard in favour of both the North and South. We will be pursuing a business led strategy to boost the use of Birmingham Airport and to get the M54, A5 and A41 journey to Birkenhead designated as a European Route in view of the amount of exports to Ireland.

“Finally, it is an outrage that sixty thousand trucks have to stand idle for eighteen hours as a result of Operation Stack which has been described as the worst possible nightmare for manufacturers. The cost of the delays and the inherent danger to drivers is simply not acceptable. Furthermore, when drivers do report illegal immigrants in their wagons, their companies are being fined. Hauliers are being asked to do the border force’s job, with officials unable to cope with numbers of want-to-be immigrants and although a local Walsall haulage company had its fine reduced on appeal, they ended up paying £18,000. Whilst authorities are struggling, Black Country businesses are risking becoming uncompetitive with delays and unplanned costs eating into profitability. Policy makers need to understand the simple mantra that businesses drive up wealth.”

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