Infrastructure is the road to success for Fylde

Andy Gregory, Regional Director, North, BGF
Andy Gregory, Regional Director, North, BGF
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Bosses across Lancashire say investing in physical rather than digital infrastructure would boost business best, according to a new survey.

But only half of them say that the Government’s much-vaunted HS2 infrastructure project will help the region.

The views come from a survey of senior business leaders in the region carried out by the Business Growth Fund.

Two thirds (69 per cent) of respondents claim that improved roads, rail and airport expansion would benefit the businesses they work with, compared to 31 per cent who would prioritise investment in high speed broadband.

Despite this, opinion is divided among Northern respondents on the value of HS2, the planned high speed railway that will link London with Birmingham and cities in the North West and Yorkshire. Half of business leaders in the North believe that HS2 is good for British business, with 40 per cent disagreeing, and one in 10 remaining undecided.

In contrast to current plans, 60 per cent in the North believe that it would be better to start with the connections from the Northern cities to Birmingham, and then move on to London.

In terms of airport expansion, the majority (71 per cent) of Northern business leaders believe that building a third runway at Heathrow is good for British business, although 60 per cent thought that increasing capacity, routes and flights at regional airports was equally or more important.

BGF said once again prospects for growth look bright but there were signs of growing caution among the Northern business community.

More than half (52 per cent) believed conditions for growth have improved over the last quarter while a similar number (55 per cent) expected them to continue to grow over the next quarter.

This marked a significant drop on the 86 per cent and 81 per cent who answered the same questions in June, perhaps reflecting the recent slowdown in growth of GDP.

Andy Gregory, regional director, North, BGF said: “We can see from our latest index that businesses in the North, while united in recognising the importance of investing in physical infrastructure, want this investment to be evenly spread across the UK and bring direct benefits to the companies close to home.

“Once again this index paints a positive picture of the growth climate, but there are also concerns on the horizon.

“Political and economic instability overseas – in Europe, the Middle East and Asia – has leapfrogged accessing the right skills as one of the top issues holding Northern businesses back from growth.”