The businesses at risk from Network Rail’s railway arch sell off contribute over £725m to the UK economy ever year, according to the New Economics Foundation, as the campaign to save them gathers pace.
The finding comes as the four firms still in the running for Network Rail’s £1.5bn one-off sale of its 5,476 railway arches prepare to submit their final bids.
The Guardians of the Arches, a campaign group led by small businesses based in arches and supported by the New Economics Foundation and East End Trades Guild, is calling on the government to intervene in the sale to ensure their interests are protected.
Each business in an arch contributes an estimated £160,000 to GDP every year according to the research, with the 30% of arches tenants in vehicle sale and repair alone contributing nearly £200m a year to the economy
Sarah Arnold, researcher at the New Economics Foundation who conducted the research, said the work of the enterprising small businesses and their contribution to the economy was under threat by the sell off:
“Every day we speak to small business owners who have had to shut down or relocate because of massive in-year rent increases, often leaving arches vacant for years. And now, with the impending sale of the estate, their future is even more uncertain. When you look at how much these arches businesses contribute to our economy, it doesn’t make any sense to put all of that at risk.”
After Transport Minister Jo Johnson recently agreed to consider local alternatives to the sale after meeting with the campaigners, the group has proposed 13 considerations to ensure that the arches being sold off “are being managed fairly and transparently”.
Exciting news! We have written to @JoJohnsonUK with 13 proposals to ensure that the arches being sold off are managed fairly and transparently.
See our proposals below (THREAD) 👇
— Guardians of the Arches (@ArchesGuardians) August 6, 2018