Living in Birmingham, spending money in London

Yesterday, at the Institute of Directors, David Higgins, incoming chair of HS2 Ltd said that he thought Birmingham could become a commuter hub for London if HS2 was built.  Here’s what we said about that in March 2011

Various Stop HS2 supporters went to Monday’s debate (28th March 2011) in Birmingham organised by Birmingham Friends of the Earth and Sustainability West Midlands.

One of the comments from the audience was about people using HS2 to commute to work in London, and spending the money they earned in London on businesses in Birmingham.

The thing is though, people spend money where they earn it as well as where they live.

Sure, the commuter will buy a house near the station (with their London wage, pushing up house prices near the station, and making it harder for Birmingham-based workers to buy houses there).

They will probably furnish the house, and buy carpets and curtains locally – but most people only buy these things once every few years.

However, many of their daily purchases will be in London.  They will buy lunch in London.  They will go shopping in their lunchbreak, buying clothes, and books and the latest technological gizmo from London shops.

They will do their after-work socialising in London, buying drinks in London pubs and meals out in London restaurants.

They will go to the many theatres and cinemas in London. There are good theatres and concert venues in Birmingham, but there are many more in London.  Their friends and partners will take the short trip on HS2 to join them in London rather then meeting them in Birmingham.

Are these ideas unrealistic?

Well read what one Midlands based supporter of HS2, Andy Coyne, wrote last year at the end of an article about the effects of HS2:

“I’m even fantasising about Friday nights spent drinking in Islington and eating curry in Brick Lane!”

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4 comments on “Living in Birmingham, spending money in London
  1. Working in London, living in Birmingham. The commuter’s output contributes to the London Product, but Birmingham supplys the scarce housing & services. So Birmingham is subsidising London. Assume the commuter’s company is profitable, his output will exceed his salary, so he will contribute more to London’s economy than to Birmingham’s.

    London is like a black hole sucking the life out of towns that fall within its gravity. To see this effect, travel between London & Brighton. For all the towns in between, there is very little industry and very few amenities.

  2. HS2 sponsors make cases for better roads than for limited long distance rail. Regeneration is more limited from clogged city access and inner city and dangerous narrow roads. Shorter distance rail and tube commuting. 20 people holding back Britian by obsessing on HS2. MPs and their Lords and masters dont appear to be realistic or aware of chronic daily road and rail commutes for millions. UK on way to 80 million with existing roads and tube for 50 million people. Time to join the dots and change from HS2 to more practical affordable prioirities. Leadership and group thinking Whipped MPs dont fit currently.

    • “…dangerous narrow roads…”
      How very true.

      So-widen them to maximise speedy passage through the countryside and straighten them out…

      (See the reconstructed A.11, north of Newmarket, three times at least, the width of the previous road)

      …but please don’t wail about the loss of habitat ,destruction of woodland etc, etc…

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