We feel cut off, say businesses - survey reveals poor transport links cost South West £165m a year (From Bournemouth Echo)
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We feel cut off, say businesses - survey reveals poor transport links cost South West £165m a year
THE South West’s poor transport infrastructure is costing the region more than £165 million a year, a survey has discovered.
The grim statistic was revealed by South West Chambers of Commerce and found that disruptions to rail and road connections were having a crippling effect on the economy.
More than 350 businesses took part in the survey, in which they were asked to share their views on how the South West’s transport connectivity issues affected them.
The results will serve as the basis of a lobbying campaign for improved investment in transport infrastructure.
The survey found that during recent disruptions caused by bad weather, many firms felt that the area was cut off from the rest of the UK.
Severe transport difficulties meant late or non-arrival of staff and clients, cancelled or postponed appointments and business trips, cancelled hotel bookings, a noticeable drop in customers for retail companies and resource issues for businesses relying on an inward supply of goods.
This resulted in lost revenue, loss of working days, reduced productivity, additional costs for alternative arrangements and significant adverse effects on new business and project delivery.
The Government has announced that the High Speed Rail Network programme would be extended to the North West and North East, with no mention of such plans for the South West.
Peter Scott, Chief Executive of the Dorset Chamber of Commerce & Industry, said: “When our roads freeze up or flood here in Dorset, or when we have the wrong kind of snow, supply chains are disrupted and employers and their workforces can be seriously inconvenienced.
“I’m pleased to say that Dorset’s transport bottlenecks are being addressed by the Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership, among others, to help reduce the impact of the disruption to business.
“Next to tackle will be further improvements to the transverse links, and those leading out of the county.”
One survey respondent said that they travelled from London to Manchester in less than two hours, but a trip from Manchester to Plymouth took more than eight hours.
Derek Phillips, Chairman of South West Chambers of Commerce, added: “Our message to Government is that the South West has received far less than its fair share of investment in transport infrastructure for far too long and it is time that this unacceptable situation ceases.”