There must be one regional voice to make Trans-Pennine Tunnel a reality

Businesses called for one regional voice to advocate for the proposed Trans-Pennine Tunnel at a major business event. A transport link from the M60 to the M1 would help to connect not only Manchester to Sheffield but the whole country to help improve the business economy.

Over 100 business leaders met to hear the results of the Sheffield City Region Quarterly Economic Survey (QES) for the fourth quarter of 2016 and a lively debate on the feasibility of the proposed Trans-Pennine Tunnel.

Prof. Andrew Simpson, University of Sheffield Management School presented the survey results for Q4 which showed the Sheffield City Region is coping well despite the uncertain climate. Both the manufacturing and service sectors showed a positive balance in sales in the UK market over the last three months. However as inflationary pressures continue to build, both sectors expect price rises in the next quarter.  As well as inflation rates, both service and manufacturing  firms identified exchange rates as a more important factor to business than three months ago. Service firms also highlighted competition as an increasing concern.

Over 300 businesses completed the survey and over half said a road and rail Trans-Pennine Tunnel, followed by just a road, would bring the best economic return for the region.

Keynote speaker, Dr. Adam Marshall, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce highlighted that the QES is the most significant and credible business survey in the UK that national decision-makers listen to and act on. He said now is the time for the business community to push for big infrastructure projects as the national government believes that infrastructure is one of the keys to the UK’s success post-Brexit.

“The QES creates impact and traction with national decision-makers and City regions working closely with local business is the key to success. Yorkshire must display a unity of purpose to get the vital investment it needs,” said Dr. Marshall.

The panellists agreed during a lively debate about the feasibility of the tunnel and its potential economic and infrastructural benefits for the regions. “A new Trans-Pennine Tunnel would benefit the whole country so everyone needs to back it,” said Darren Oldham, Study Lead for the Trans-Pennine Tunnel Study Team.

Clive Watkinson of JC Snell, agreed that the Trans-Pennine links will be between the M1 and M60, and will be transformational not just for the Sheffield City Region and Manchester but the rest of the UK – both North and South. Tony Hickton, Hickton Consultants also agreed that the tunnel would help link the North and South.

However Peter Kennan of Hawsons Chartered Accountants pointed out that whilst everyone wants a tunnel, there needs to be one consistent regional voice to get the best economic result for the region. Mr Oldham proposed the new tunnel would need to keep up with changing modes of transport  over the next 150 years but others said it  was paramount that it meet today’s needs immediately.

The panel debate was chaired by Greg Wright, the deputy business editor of The Yorkshire Post.

Using the results of the Q4 2016 Sheffield City Region QES  and the debate, the Sheffield City Region Chambers and member businesses will continue to work with the Local Enterprise Partnership and other stakeholders for better connectivity through improved infrastructure to improve the business and economic climate.

The survey – run by the Sheffield City Region Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), four Chambers of Commerce and Sheffield University Management School -  influences local, regional and national governments and decision-makers as well as helps shape the support structures available to the local business community.

A publication summarising the Q4 QES results in regards to the economy, skills and labour and international trade is available on the QES website.

All Sheffield City Region business leaders can complete the Q1 2017 Quarterly Economic Survey between 20 February and 13 March 2017 to have their say on the local economy and for a chance to win two Flybe flights to a European City courtesy of Doncaster Sheffield Airport.

 

For further information visit:  www.screconomy.org.uk

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