One-in-ten East Midlands firms considers relocation because of traffic delays

Travel delays and congestion are having a negative impact on business, according to new research.

More than one-in-ten firms have considered moving to beat congestion and over half said they’ve lost money because of delays.

East Midlands Chamber* asked firms across the region how much they were being held back by poor infrastructure investment.

According to Government figures, infrastructure investment in the East Midlands is only 60% of the average per capita of the rest of the UK. The Chamber is lobbying for national parity by 2020.

The shock results of the survey were that 68% of respondents said they’d suffered delays due to roads congestion.

Nearly a third of businesses (30%) said the delays had caused them to incur increased costs in buying products or services and 18% said they’d lost at least one business opportunity due to the delays. As a direct consequence of the delays and congestion, 11% of respondents said they’d considered relocating.

The problems extend beyond road and rail, however, to include the region’s digital infrastructure.

Mobile and online technologies are nowadays considered crucial to conducting business and driving growth but one-in-ten of the survey’s respondents said they’d suffered mobile phone outages and 36% said they’d suffered broadband issues.

Scott Knowles, Chief Executive at East Midlands Chamber, said: “This original research confirms what we’ve said all along; that our businesses are very good at making things and selling what they make around the world, but they do it despite Government investment in this region, not because of it.

“We’ve been seeking to respond to Government challenges and increase our activity in this region, but it hasn’t been matched by investment in infrastructure and now we’re seeing the results of constant under-investment – for example, over seven-in-ten of our members believe the roads network is less reliable today than it was five years ago.

“The East Midlands needs a fair share of national infrastructure investment. The region needs roads that recognise its importance as the link between north and south and between east and west. It needs a rail network fit for the 21st Century and beyond. It needs improved transport links with East Midlands Airport and better use made of the capacity at the airport for longer haul flights to complement its status as the country’s biggest pure freight airport.

“Companies in the East Midlands are among some of the most pioneering in the world, particularly in advanced technologies, but they are being held back by the lack of investment, which is something Government needs to address today if we are to continue to be successful in tomorrow’s post-Brexit world.

“The risk of getting this wrong is stark and, in a worst case scenario, businesses may feel forced to vote with their feet. We call on all our elected representatives, regionally and in Westminster, to do all they can to ensure this doesn’t happen.”