Road delays hit business

MORE than 80 per cent of Cambridgeshire companies suffer from congestion on the A14, business leaders told a transport minister. John Bridge, chief executive of Cambridgeshire Chambers of Commerce, urged Dr Stephen Ladyman, Minister of State for Transport

MORE than 80 per cent of Cambridgeshire companies suffer from congestion on the A14, business leaders told a transport minister.

John Bridge, chief executive of Cambridgeshire Chambers of Commerce, urged Dr Stephen Ladyman, Minister of State for Transport, to fast-track elements of the £640million A14 Ellington-Fen Ditton improvements to ease the pressure.

Mr Bridge said: "It is clear to all that UK business is at breaking point with the state of the road network: 82 per cent of companies describe it as essential to their business operations, yet 84 per cent say that there is a problem with road congestion that affects their business locally.

"Businesses are now supporting the principle of road pricing because they are so desperate for something to be done. This can only be done as part of a package with no increased business costs, which are high enough as a result of companies doing battle with our inadequate transport infrastructure.


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"The mechanism for the intervention needs to be appropriate and not adversely affect businesses," he added.

"The results of the national survey show that the average added cost a year to a UK business due to UK transport infrastructure is £18,000, but we believe that cost to be much higher in Cambridgeshire.

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"We have serious doubts that the Government will be able to administer road pricing fairly, and it is imperative that these results are not used as an excuse to charge with one hand and still keep taking with the other.

"If road pricing is to be introduced there must be reductions for business in road tax and fuel duty. There must also be a guarantee that the additional money raised be spent on improving the road network," said Mr Bridge, who is also chairman of the trade association British Haulage.

The meeting with Dr Ladyman coincided with the release of British Chambers of Commerce figures indicating that 85 per cent of businesses are experiencing increased operating costs as a direct result of the UK's 'insufficient' transport infrastructure.

The nationwide survey also discovered that 87 per cent of businesses supported the principle of road pricing.

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