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22 . Glasgow Business May/June 2013

The Glasgow Economic Leadership group examines big issues affecting the city, not least its transport links



he Glasgow Economic Leadership Group (GEL) turned its focus to developing the city’s infrastructure at a meeting in March.

Te Group was joined by Deputy First

Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who has responsibility for capital investment, infrastructure and cities and two senior civil servants: the Scotish Government’s Digital Director Mike Neilson and Transport Scotland Chief Executive David Middleton. Top of the issues tackled was the ability for city

businesses to connect to overseas markets through direct flights or travelling through Heathrow as a hub airport. Group members stressed the need for

Scotland to come forward more quickly with an Air Strategy to identify the right levers to help atract investment from airlines in new direct routes and in fighting the corner at Heathrow for more domestic flights to Glasgow. Te availability and cost of flights to and from

Heathrow to access connecting services to overseas markets was highlighted as a major concern. Equally concerning GEL members was the

need for greater integration of transport networks particularly surface links to Glasgow Airport. It was highlighted that this is an increasing

problem given the challenge of M77 traffic backing up onto the M8 at peak hours and the impact that has on journey times from the city to the airport.

Te GEL Group was assured that options were

being reviewed by Transport Scotland and that this was being treated as a mater of urgency. Another key transport issue discussed was

High Speed Rail (HSR) and in particular the proposals going through the Westminster Parliament for connections from London to Birmingham initially, and then on to Manchester and Leeds.

Te GEL Group highlighted the threat that

this poses to the Central Belt of Scotland in a future where businesses considering inward investment might look more favourably on

Glasgow’s competitor cities when HSR connections are made to these major cities but not on to Glasgow and Edinburgh. Te Deputy First Minister stressed her

desire for HSR to be delivered in Scotland more quickly than is currently being envisaged by the Westminster Government. She said there should be high-speed

connections made between Glasgow and Edinburgh as part of a process of building HSR from the north southwards, rather than simply waiting for it to be built south to north. Tere was also a lengthy and detailed

The availability and cost of flights to and from Heathrow to access connecting services to overseas markets was a major concern

discussion at the meeting on digital infrastructure and the take-up of existing options whether broadband, 4G or whatever else is required. It was stressed that a key factor in the

development of digital infrastructure is the level and sophistication of demand in Glasgow. A key interest of Glasgow Chamber is that

e-commerce in the city region continues to grow and therefore the city becomes an increasingly heavy user of broadband. Te thinking is that the higher the demand,

the greater likelihood that suppliers will invest. Te Chamber knows well that there is a lot

more work to do to build up a body of e-commerce companies in this part of the world.

The group looked at how to encourage airlines to establish more direct routes...

... as well as the need for high speed rail

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