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Black Country Chamber of Commerce Sets out Transport Manifesto for 2020

 MG 1049Responding to the suggestion in a Department for Transport consultation -  on the replacement of the West Coast Main Line franchise - to cut the number of inter-city trains at stations like Wolverhampton, Birmingham International, Sandwell and Dudley and Coventry, Colin Leighfield, Chair of the Black Country Chamber of Commerce Transport Group said: “We agree with our colleagues at the West Midlands Integrated Transport Authority: the Department for Transport does not understand how important these services are in linking the key economic areas of the region together. The result would be catastrophic burdening our already congested roads and making it even more difficult for our hauliers to access important markets.

“This is yet another example of the lack of strategic thinking going on in government departments. At the Breakfast Roundtable with the Gatwick Airport and Birmingham Airport CEOs on 2nd June I brought the issue of strategic coherence up in the context of government aviation policy. In a time of austerity how can it be in the best interests of the country to spend £5.5 billion to reroute the M25 when HS2 can cut the journey time from London to Birmingham airport to 38 minutes? If Transport for London are telling us repeatedly that their infrastructure would not be able to cope with the additional passengers, why are we still considering a third runway as an option? The hub and spoke model for airports harks back to a ‘nationalisation ideology’. We live in a competitive world and if Birmingham, Gatwick and Manchester wish to compete with Heathrow they should be allowed to do so.”

Turning his attention to the Transport Manifesto due to be launched at the Transport Group meeting on 14 June, Colin said: “We have broken our manifesto down into local, regional and national/international components: locally we need a public passenger service that is fit for purpose; all barriers to the free flow of road transport to be removed and the needs of freight transport to be accommodated in all planning activity.

“Regionally, we need the M6 Toll free for through-freight thereby releasing £0.3 billion per year of wasted productivity; we need Birmingham Airport to be connected to HS2 so that aviation congestion in the South East can be relieved through local expansion rather than an expensive third runway at Heathrow; and we need the transport infrastructure in the region to the make the journey from anywhere in the Black Country to either the HS2 terminal at Curzon Street or to Birmingham Airport in less than 45 minutes.

“Nationally and internationally we need the National Infrastructure Commission to support the rapid development of the economic needs of the Midlands Engine for Growth as portrayed through Midlands Connect. The support must realise the £34 billion productivity gap defined by the Secretary of State of Business, Innovation and Skills. We need the HS2/HS1 connection to be implemented so that our business leaders can travel, say to the middle of Germany, in under 4 hours. Finally we need business leaders to be able to directly access all major industrial centres of the world from Birmingham Airport.

“This region’s manufacturing and service sectors have been under-supported for years. We need our government to provide macroeconomic support without the microeconomic interference. We have the structures in place to make things happen: we just need economic concerns to be treated as if they are as important as political ones.”

Last modified on Tuesday, 07 June 2016 14:04

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