Transport: Black Country requirements need careful consideration says Chamber

THE transport and skills needs of the Black Country are completely different from those of large manufacturers and the services sector, the area’s chamber of commerce has said.

Also, HS2 means a lot less to the local SMEs than their customers being able to drive their trucks or vans across the Black Country and onto the motorway network, said chamber president Ninder Johal.

Supporting calls by the Greater Birmingham Chamber of Commerce for a better understanding of local needs by the National Infrastructure Commission, he said: “I totally agree with (Birmingham’s) comments. The Midlands, the industrial heart of the UK, has specific needs that fundamentally differ from those in the south and those involved in building the northern powerhouse.

“For example, Black Country manufacturers tend to operate in niches offering high quality services to other supply chain businesses that require low production volumes but a rapid turnaround.

“We have a craft heritage that has carried forward into today’s business environment. Their transport and skills needs are completely different from OEM and the services sector. HS2 means a lot less to them than their customers being able to drive their trucks or vans across the Black Country and into the motorway network.”

All this week – in conjunction with Virgin Trains, Birmingham Airport and the University of Birmingham – is focusing on regional transport and transport infrastructure issues. 

We have produced a special supplement on the sector which includes coverage from a round table attended by a number of the West Midlands’ transport industry’s ‘big hitters’.

To download our transport supplement click here.

Johal said Government policy seemed to value the contribution of large service companies rather than businesses involved in manufacturing.

“Our members have told us that they want to see devolved powers at a Midlands level. Therefore as a local chamber for the Black Country, we need to better understand how we can join forces with Chambers of Commerce across the Midlands and articulate our needs with a single clear voice that represents the industrial heart of the UK. Neither the South East nor the Northern Powerhouse will be able to function effectively if the heart of the UK’s industry does not receive the support and attention it warrants,” he said.

“There will be challenges ahead and we are leading the way in terms of demonstrating how a local economy can be doubled over a 10-year period through focused activity on skills, transport and simplifying the business environment.”

He said the chamber would be sharing its aims with peers across the West Midlands.