A lack of investment in transport links across the UK is stifling business expansion in Coventry and Warwickshire, according to a new report.
Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce’s study reveals businesses believe congestion and a limited transport system is deterring inward investment into the region.
The poll of businesses is being fed into a national report by the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) which estimates the cost of congestion to the UK economy has risen £5.7billion to £23.2billion a year. Just 16 per cent of companies agree that the country’s infrastructure fully meets their business needs; 40 per cent believe it is limiting their ability to expand; and just over 50 per cent say it is inhibiting inward investment into Coventry and Warwickshire.
David Moore, director of Leamington-based Travel Management which organises corporate travel, believes investment in the road network and airports is vital to attracting business.
He said: “Transport infrastructure is hugely important. Some areas are being addressed but others need to be pushed further; in particular the road system is failing miserably. I work in Leamington but live in Northampton and there are so many hold-ups on the M1, it is very frustrating. I don’t know what the solution is but there are a lot of lorries on the roads and if there was a better way of transporting cargo, that would offer some relief.
“The other important thing is investment in the airports. To compete with Europe for headquarters we need to be competitive and easy to get to. If we don’t expand we won’t be attractive to foreign investment. It is a great shame about passenger flights being stopped from Coventry Airport because I would have liked to see it develop and entice economic investment.”
Stephen Docherty, policy officer at the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, said investment in the transport system was critical – especially in a time of economic downturn.
He said: “Unless there is significant investment in the transport infrastructure then the problem is only going to get worse.
“We cannot afford to have businesses saying they cannot expand because the transport network is not up to scratch. Frankly, in 2008, that is shocking.
“Urgent attention needs to be paid to all forms of transport to increase capacity on our roads and encourage people, where possible, to use public transport.
“You only have to look in this region. The Ricoh Arena is one of the most positive developments Coventry and Warwickshire has had for some time – yet it still cannot be accessed by rail. That’s simply not on – especially when a track runs right by it.
“It’s a great example of where and how the government needs to act.”
Mr Docherty added that the government should invest more of the £46billion taxation collected from road users. Currently £4billion is spent on the roads.