Small businesses in Birmingham don’t back the HS2 project and believe it won’t boost business, according to a survey of 2000 small firms.
The study found that 66 per cent of businesses in Birmingham believe that the HS2 high-speed rail link won’t help to grow their businesses nor help to rebalance the economy away from the South East.
The survey, by Freelancer.co.uk found that the businesses believe the money invested in the new rail link would be better spent supporting businesses directly in the city itself, rather than infrastructure companies and manufacturers of the high-speed trains, some of which aren’t based in the UK.
A large proportion of the respondents believe that the Government is failing to see the benefit of and support new technology that are enabling businesses to grow and trade across the internet. In all 64 per cent of the respondents said high-speed internet access and e-commerce sites had done more for their businesses than the costly high-speed rail link to their city will do.
“The survey finds that the high speed rail link is nothing more than a vanity project for the Government, with highly questionable benefits to the business community in the cities it will be connecting,” said Matt Barrie, CEO of Freelancer.co.uk.
Meanwhile business leaders in Greater Birmingham have urged the government to press ahead urgently with HS2 despite a report expressing reservations about the Department for Transport’s business case by the National Audit Office (NAO).
Birmingham Chamber of Commerce chief executive Jerry Blackett said: “The NAO has relied on an out-of-date analysis when it should be taking into account the progress that has been made in the past year. Without HS2 we will simply run out of rail capacity and by the 2020s the West Coast Main Line will be full.”