Chamber backs mayor's congestion vow

26 March 2018

Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce and Chamber patron Arup hosted the West Midlands mayor Andy Street at an event aimed at supporting his objectives to get the region’s transport system moving again.

Building upon the work of the recently published GBCC report on congestion, the mayor and the West Midlands Combined Authority were given a platform to engage with a range of key regional stakeholders to share ideas on how the region can overcome congestion related issues.

The report found that congestion costs businesses up to £407 million a year, and emphasises that congestion affects staff punctuality (28 per cent), reduces productivity (21 per cent) and increases company costs (19 per cent).

The event, held at the National College for High Speed Rail, brought together representatives from transport bodies, local authorities and business organisations to discuss proactive solutions required to combat the region’s transport needs.

The mayor started the event by giving the audience an overview on his priorities for transport and movement in the region and how the agenda has progressed during his tenure.

Andy Street said: “We know that we’ve had a real turn around in our economy, and what today is all about is how transport is going to actually keep up with the demands of the economy.

“As you will see, there is quite a step change in the degree of public transport available across the region. Excluding the cost of HS2, there is £5 billion pounds worth of investment.”

“We can’t go on with congestion and people choosing the car as the first route, this [the new transport network] will genuinely give alternatives.”

Attendees from the event, including representatives from Transport for West Midlands, University of Birmingham and Highways England then discussed transport network resilience, implications of policy changes, and measures required to support change.   

After the session concluded, Richard De Cani from Arup offered some closing remarks and next steps following on from the event.

Johnny Ojeil, director of transport planning at Arup, said: “Arup is delighted to be involved in helping shape the transport strategy for the region and in particular working closely with the Chamber and the many businesses they represent.

Paul Faulkner, chief executive of Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce, said: “The businesses that participated in today’s event made it clear that not only are they affected by congestion, but they also want to play their part in overcoming these deep seated issues. In particular, it was great to see local firms bringing sensible and tangible solutions to the table.

“Whilst it is reassuring that the Mayor has made tackling congestion a key priority of his tenure, it is clear that these deep seated issues can only be effectively challenged if we adopt a holistic and joined up approach which encourages collaboration between public and private sector bodies.

“In the long term, we look forward to working with Arup and the mayor’s office to ensure the views of business are recognised and reflected in the region’s transport programmes.”

Pictured (l to r): Raj Kandola (GBCC senior patron and policy advisor), Paul Faulkner, Anne Shaw (director - network resilience, West Midlands Combined Authority), Andy Street and Johnny Ojeil 

View the Chamber's congestion report here.

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