Last Thursday I had the pleasure of attending the launch event for Midlands Connect at The Roundhouse in Derby.
Midlands Connect is a collaborative partnership of regional chambers of commerce, councils, local enterprise partnerships (LEPs), Network Rail, Highways England, Central Government and the wider business community, which was formed in January 2014. The overall aim is to develop a vision and strategy for the transportation network and enhance connectivity across the region. Furthermore it aims to set out a credible investment strategy to support the building of the Midlands as an engine for growth.
Delivering the keynote speech at last Thursday’s launch event was Robert Goodwill MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Transport. In this speech he outlined the importance of Midlands Connect in helping to develop a transport strategy for the Midlands, a region that contributes £178bn a year to UK plc – of which businesses in Northamptonshire play a substantial role. To substantiate this further, the Rt Hon Patrick Mcloughlin MP, Secretary of State for Transport has said “Midlands Connect has already made great steps towards getting the Midlands Engine for Growth in motion”.
Among the highlights of the Midlands Connect Launch event was a speech by Sir David Higgins, Chairman of HS2 who outlined from a rail standpoint the importance the network will have in delivering economic growth for the Midlands. Sir David said “through Midlands Connect local civic and business leaders are working strategically to get the region HS2 ready and maximise its economic growth”. Moreover, Sir David urged businesses the length and breadth of the Midlands to take advantage of the £11bn worth of contracts offered by HS2 across the lifespan of the project.
The Midlands boasts one third of all UK manufacturing jobs; 16% of all UK exports worth £50bn; 20 universities; and 90% of all UK business is within 4 hours. The case for sustainable transport investment based on a clearly defined strategy as outlined by the Midlands Connect Partnership is made evident by the following – In 2036, if journey times were cut by 20% across all of the intensive growth corridors (see image above) in the Midlands: -
- £460bn per year = business journey time savings
- £1.1bn per year = agglomeration benefits
- 306,000 additional jobs = employment impact
- £33m per year = labour market impact
Midlands Connect provides an excellent opportunity to crystallise in one clear strategic document a clear vision as to why transport and connectivity are vitally important to the region and that sustainable investment across the Midlands is critical to supporting business growth and job creation. I would welcome Chamber member’s comments and thoughts regarding this collaborative partnership.
Midlands Connect Strategy is scheduled for launch in the spring of 2017.
I am interested in hearing the thoughts of businesses on the ground. For further details and to submit your comments and thoughts please contact me via firstname.lastname@example.org
Author Simon Dishman, Policy Executive at Northamptonshire Chamber of Commerce