By Nicholas Newman
The southeast part of the UK is one of the most economically active regions in Europe. Brexit won’t change the need for the region to continue to evolve and invest in infrastructure that ensures its competitiveness and its attraction as a base for enterprise and research. In fact, the Brexit means that the region has to step up its game in terms of investment to ensure the future prosperity of the region.
Oxford needs new jobs to replace the jobs that cease to exist. Today the BMW car works produces more cars with less people than in British Leyland days. We no longer for instance manufacture blankets in Witney or make books from velum. Even traditional jobs like farming are increasingly automated. The future of jobs in the region is knowledge based hi-tech industries. That is why we need to attract new investment to create the jobs for local and new people so that they can earn the wages to pay taxes that will support investment in the NHS, pensions, education, research etc.
Redirecting investment does not work
As for directing investment elsewhere, previous governments have met with only partiall success. Oxfordshire has several well developed natural geo-economic advantages which mean it is an attractive place to invest.
The region enjoys several advantages in its favour, these are:
- proximity to London
- proximity to major airports such as Heathrow
- access to major world ports such as Southampton and Felixstowe
- a base for leading universities, research centres
- a nice place to live
- its historic and cultural heritage
- proximity to Europe via the channel tunnel
- good access to rest of UK.
Benefits of East West Rail Link
There are a number of benefits of reopening the east-west rail link, these are:
- Along its route there are plenty of useful sites for new housing and employment.
- It will improve rail capacity for trains serving Southampton docks for destinations in the Midlands and East Anglia.
- Create a new rail freight train route, so reducing train congestion on the North London line when delivering goods from both Southampton and Felixstowe ports.
- It will enable London Transport to improve the quality of rail services along the North London Line, which is currently shared by freight trains from major ports and the Channel Tunnel.
- Cut reduce congestion on neighboring roads and potential accidents.
- Reduce the need for road repairs.
- Open up new job opportunities for local people.
- It will cut journey time between Oxford, Aylesbury, Cambridge, Milton Keynes
- It will provide rail access Oxford passengers to Stansted and Luton Airports
Problems caused by lack of development
The recent cuts in government spending and increased government borrowing demonstrate that the economy is not active enough to generate the required revenue needed to pay for vital services, such as social care, NHS, education and has resulted the cutbacks in rural bus services, leading to an increasing number of communities isolated from local towns. This is already adding to road congestion and smog in the area. That is why we need infrastructure that is fit for current and future growth.
As for the need for housing, the high price of housing and rents in the area, demonstrates that there is a serious shortage in affordable housing for all income levels. For our hospitals it means that staff have to travel long distances along congested smog filled routes, due to lack of sufficient development in the area. As the Horton hospital in Banbury has discovered, the shortage of affordable housing to rent and buy makes it hard to recruit and attract vital staff to run local health services. This has resulted in NHS services at Horton being threatened.