In an open-letter ahead of next week's Budget, the leaders of London, Manchester and Business West Chambers of Commerce urge government investment in improving connectivity between our core cities:
Next week’s Budget accords a distinct opportunity for the Chancellor to give some much-needed certainty to business at this time of concern and apprehension over Brexit.
Moving to enact the recommendation within the recent National Infrastructure Assessment of an additional £43billion transport investment in the regions outside London would be a positive signal to investors and also go some way towards laying the foundations for the long-term economic prosperity of the UK as a whole.
As three Chambers of Commerce covering the metropolitan areas of Bristol, Greater Manchester and London, and a combined GVA of almost £500 billion, we know connectivity matters to business.
Business thrives on speed of connection whether that’s moving employees, accessing skills, linking networks, transporting goods or raw materials or digital connectivity.
Travel both within and between our city regions between the regions of England is not easy. For instance, getting employees and goods into our city centres is often tortuous, hampered by underinvestment and high congestion. Whilst transiting, by any mode, between the great northern cities of Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds and Sheffield can be a tortuous, time consuming experience. This is not good for business or Britain plc.
Budget 2018 is an opportunity to make bold investment decisions to ensure that ALL the UK remains competitive after Brexit.
We’re calling for a more strategic approach towards the allocation of public monies for transport investment. This would prompt more businesses, especially those from outside the UK, to take a closer look at the newly devolved English metro regions as locations to invest and locate.
The UK has long dragged its feet on transport infrastructure. Next year’s Spending Review – on the eve of Brexit – should provide certainty to regional transport infrastructure with funding in place for the next twenty years.
Clive Memmott Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce
Phil Smith Business West
Colin Stanbridge London Chamber of Commerce and Industry