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Almost half of UK business leaders want Northern Powerhouse to control HS2

3 min read

05 November 2015

Former deputy editor

The UK's business leaders are in agreement that HS2 will be great for companies across the country, but almost half believe that operations should begin in the North – not London.

The UK’s transportation system is undergoing a huge shift. You only have to look at the uproar Uber has caused, with the on-demand car service getting accused of breaking laws and upsetting London’s taxi drivers.

Then there’s the £14.8bn Crossrail development, which is set for completion in 2018. It’s set to have a huge affect on businesses and commuters alike, enabling those in Essex, Kent and Berkshire to access the capital more easily.

And in July, business minister Sajid Javid promised a £100bn fund to improve the country’s transport infrastructure, which he said is a “vital part of any serious, growing economy”.

The HS2 development is another key part of that transport infrastructure. The project is designed to connect London to the Midlands and the Northern Powerhouse region, such as Manchester and Leeds, and vice versa.

The country’s business leaders are behind the campaign, according to Business Growth Fund. Some 60 per cent of bosses believe the high speed railways will be great for British enterprise.

London has most expensive and dirtiest transport operation in the world

That said, 43 per cent think it would be better to begin the connections from northern cities to Birmingham, which is currently phase two of the plan, and then onto London. Comparatively, 24 per cent are in favour of sticking to phase one of the plan which will see operations begin in the south.

Stephen Welton, chief executive of BGF, said: “Small and medium-sized businesses are the lifeblood of the economy, bringing much needed jobs and prosperity, but they depend on infrastructure to grow. 

“Working with businesses across the length and breadth of the UK, we see first-hand the importance of investing in world class infrastructure, combining big ticket projects such as HS2 and increasing airport capacity but also ongoing improvements to roads and online connectivity.”

The study also found that 58 per cent believe improved roads, rail and airport expansion would benefit the companies they partner, while 40 per cent want to see high-speed broadband investment.

Read more on the UK’s transport infrastructure:

Heathrow, of course, is a hot topic of discussion that has divided many business leaders and politicians. However, for the purposes of this particular survey, 75 per cent of bosses feel the expansion is a good for UK companies. Elsewhere, 55 per cent feel increased capacity, routes and flights at regional airports is equally or more important.

With all of these developments on the go, 51 per cent of leaders feel growth conditions improved over the last quarter and 52 per cent expect then to grow in the next quarter. That’s a sharp decline from 82 per cent and 78 per cent in 2014.