‘Businesses will welcome the HS2’ says BCC boss

The new high-speed rail link from London to the Midlands has received strong support from the British Chambers of Commerce, though many businesses remain unconvinced.

BCC director general John Longworth says of the £32.7 billion project: ‘Businesses up and down the country will welcome the government’s decision to proceed with HS2.’

However, this level of support isn’t universal among businesses.

Lord Wolfson, chief executive of clothing company Next says: ‘It’s not in the national interest to spend a huge amount of money on a scheme that is not, in any way, the best investment on capital.’

Chris Meredith, head of sales at office provider Offbroker.com says: ‘As a Midlands-based firm which work within Central London on a regular basis, I for one wouldn’t be willing to pay the significant fare increase to use the HS2 service.’

The first phase of the network, which links London to Birmingham, is set to open in 2026.

Meredith adds: ‘The £32 billion earmarked for the project could be better used to improve the existing network or supporting struggling areas of the economy such as start-up businesses and SMEs.’

The government says that out of 55,000 responses to its consultation on the plans, almost two-thirds (65 per cent) raised concerns about property.

Estate agent Trevor Kent whose business is based in Kent says: ‘The value of land along the route has been thrown into crisis, with many home owners and businesses now unable to sell homes.

‘And for what? A few minutes off a journey which the majority already claim they will not take advantage of, either on cost or safety grounds.’

The controversial network, which was given the go-ahead earlier this week, is expected to almost halve journey times between England’s biggest cities.

Campbell, policy adviser at the British Chambers of Commerce says: ‘The wins here really do justify the price tag.

‘Business and cities will be brought much closer together [exposing] them to wider markets, improving efficiencies and helping employees boost opportunities and skills.’

Hunter Ruthven

Hunter Ruthven

Hunter was the Editor for GrowthBusiness.co.uk from 2012 to 2014, before moving on to Caspian Media Ltd to be Editor of Real Business.

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