- Milton Keynes Chamber of Commerce and route-wide counterparts underline ‘strong support’ for EWR they say is vital to boost jobs and local economy
- Business networks representing over 32,000 employees urge Government to accelerate delivery of EWR to improve connectivity and unlock constraints on growth
- Independent businesses in Milton Keynes say EWR needed to drive footfall into city
Milton Keynes Chamber of Commerce Group has joined a rallying call by regional Chamber organisations for Government to accelerate full delivery of East West Rail (EWR) which they say is vital to boost local economies and create jobs along the entire route.
Milton Keynes Chamber, which represents over 32,000 employees, says EWR is vital to unlock constraints on the local economy, attract investment, generate jobs and deliver local and national growth.
The organisation, along with Thames Valley Chamber, Bedfordshire Chamber and Cambridgeshire Chambers, have united to bolster the existing strong support for EWR from businesses across the entire route.
Milton Keynes Chamber says that the National Audit Office’s (NAO) report, whilst acknowledging the inevitable issues around delivery, recognises the substantial benefits East West Rail will bring both regionally and nationally. The NAO report and the Chancellor’s recommitment to the project in the Autumn Statement, are high-level endorsements for the project which needs to be delivered at pace to ensure that the improved connectivity the railway will bring to Milton Keynes and Bletchley can generate wider economic growth for the region.
Louise Wall, CEO, Milton Keynes Chamber of Commerce, said: “Milton Keynes is a thriving and growing business hub with great access to leisure activities, yet is constrained by the existing transport network and a lack of space for businesses to expand. This is preventing people from accessing job opportunities and limiting inward investment.
“It’s imperative that Bletchley and Milton Keynes are connected to the full route of East West Rail and that this transformational project get delivered as quickly as possible to drive local and national growth. This project is an essential catalyst to a wealth of benefits and has our strong support.”
As a new city, Milton Keynes has one of the highest start-up rates in the UK and healthy growth, but this has led to crowding which is limiting its potential. A large number of job vacancies are low skilled and low paid, transport costs are high and the city lacks academic links to expand and become a ‘triple helix’ model of private sector, public sector and academia necessary to drive forward growth.
East West Rail will improve connectivity and significantly reduce travel times, making jobs more accessible for people in Milton Keynes and Bletchley and widening the future workforce pool. The railway will bring businesses closer to their supply chains, research centres, and other sectors, creating a vibrant hub for innovation, while enabling businesses to expand to accessible and affordable locations along the route.
East West Rail will see Bletchley station extensively upgraded, which will provide new direct and faster connections to Oxford, Cambridge and Bedford, which in turn will increase growth with more businesses attracted to Milton Keynes, bringing more high-quality jobs to the area.
Stu Young, co-founder of Independent MK, which supports local independent businesses in Milton Keynes and the surrounding areas, said: “Extra footfall is a key ingredient to keeping high street shops and small independent businesses thriving in our local area. Connecting Milton Keynes (Bletchley) to Oxford and Cambridge will be most welcome to help increase the number of visitors, strengthening the independent business scene even more.”