London firms want better transport

 
Tim Wallace
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LONDON’S next mayor should boost transport, fight unions and spend our taxes here, say businesses.

Eight months ahead of the mayoral election, a survey of London companies, released today, has found enormous dissatisfaction with current tax, transport and industrial policies.

Sixty per cent support a “strong line on public sector strikes”, 57 per cent think “Londoners are unfairly subsidising other parts of the UK”, and the same number want more action on roadworks.

Infrastructure problems are cited as a major cause for concern in terms of London’s competitive position globally. Road works – which mayor Boris Johnson claims cost the capital’s businesses almost £1bn annually – and problems with the underground and buses are in fact seen as “the single most important thing the mayor could [improve] to promote London as a world class place to do business.”

This reputation can only be damaging, says KPMG’s Richard Reid. “London is in competition with some pretty slick transport networks as seen in Switzerland and Germany,” he says. “We simply cannot afford to let our ageing transport infrastructure fall behind whilst other European centres are spending money on theirs.”

Not all new infrastructure developments are popular, though – only 14 per cent want a new Heathrow runway or new Thames Estuary airport.

“Contrary to public belief, London businesses are more concerned about roadworks disruption and public transport infrastructure than a new Thames Estuary airport,” says Sophie Hobson from the website Londonlovesbusiness.com, which commissioned the survey.

Similarly, businesses want stronger action against disruptive strikes. A full two-thirds want public sector strikes to be banned unless there is a 50 per cent turnout, and a slender majority has “little sympathy with public sector workers striking over spending cuts.”

That dissatisfaction with public spending extends to the rest of the country, too -- 57 per cent believe “Londoners are unfairly subsidising other parts of the UK.”