Select Committee on Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence

Memorandum by The London Manufacturing Group (IT 127)


  The London Manufacturing Group welcomes the opportunity to comment on the White Paper "A New Deal for Transport". It supports the principles on which the Paper is based. It believes that the Government shares its conviction that success will only be determined by how these principles are turned into practical actions. The reduction of traffic in towns must be to the advantage of all sections of the community.

  The Group particularly welcomes the White Paper proposals for

    —  greater involvement of local businesses in the production of local transport plans;

    —  improved planning guidance—particularly where it assists the maintenance and development of wealth producing businesses and locations;

    —  offering "real" transport choice;

    —  improving access to jobs in areas of social and economic disadvantage. The New Deal for Communities can only be a part of this wider requirement;

and in the longer run

    —  reducing the need to travel through the maintenance and development of areas containing mixed housing, industrial and leisure use—including urban villages.

  Output by London's manufacturers is worth more than £12 billion a year—about 10 per cent of London's Annual GDP. More than 300,000 people work in manufacturing in London—one in ten of the capital's workforce. The work provides employment for a wide skills base drawn from a wide transport catchment area.

  London has nearly 16,000 manufacturing businesses with 27,000 individual workshops or factories. Most are small/medium size businesses operating on tight margins with a skills and productivity base higher than the national average. Many have 24 hour working—often using just in time (JIT) production lines. Many still operate in areas traditionally drawing on local sources of labour. Many of these areas are now not well served by public transport. All depend heavily on the reliable attendance of key workers.

  The continuing prosperity of the manufacturing sector in London continues to be threatened by difficulties arising from congestion which affects the collection and delivery of materials, the mobility of marketing and sales staff, and the regular arrival of staff. In many areas, the difficulties are compounded by the shortage of on-site parking facilities and the consequent reliance on local on-street parking. These local and detailed requirements reinforce the importance attached in the White Paper to the development of local plans.

  Manufacturers are willing to play a part in encouraging their staff to share cars or use public transport where this is a viable option. Incentives for car sharing schemes and company transport would help this to happen. If there are to be charges for car use in London we would hope that these will be levied at different rates in different areas of London and will take into account the operational needs of industry which has to accommodate 24 hour working and overlapping shifts. Some larger production London companies such as Visteon in Enfield are already drawing up "green travel plans" with their employees and these should be encouraged. A positive move would be to remove the fiscal barriers to companies recompensing employees for giving up parking spaces. At present a parking space is not a taxable benefit whereas a sum in recompense for losing a parking space is taxable.

  The Group recognise that the Mayor and Greater London Authority will have a central role in developing priorities which are flexible enough to meet the aspirations of all those who live and work in London. The Group is already drawing up proposals to assist the new authorities to weigh in the balance correctly the needs of London's manufacturers. However, as the White Paper recognises, London's plans need to be set in a national framework.

  Accordingly, the London Manufacturing Group hopes that there will be assurances from the Government that the overall framework will:

    —  require the involvement of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the development of both national and, particularly, local transport plans;

    —  give specific consideration to the impact on industry of road-user charging mechanisms—particularly for those operating 24 hour or JIT production lines and for those in areas not well-served by public transport;

    —  recognise that levies on workplace parking may operate unduly harshly on SMEs, particularly if it means restrictions on local parking for those already reliant on local on-street parking for their work force;

    —  encourage, through exemptions and reductions, the further development of working practices which encourage off-peak working and travelling and shared transport to and from work;

    —  include specific reference to the need to support and encourage the maintenance of manufacturing assets in local land use and transport plans.

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