Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Forum Calls for 'Joined-Up' System of Transport and Communications

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Forum Calls for 'Joined-Up' System of Transport and Communications

Article excerpt

SMALL businesses in the region say energy costs and access to effective telecoms are their most important infrastructure issues. New research from the Forum of Private Business shows that energy costs are "very important" or "important", with the same number citing telecommunications and broadband access - seen as a particular problem in rural locations.

The reliability of the energy supply is also a key issue for 75% of respondents, followed by local banking services (73%) and local roads (65%).

Other small business infrastructure priorities are post office services (60%), mobile communications (59%), the motorway network (56%), the provision of skills training (46%), waste services and recycling (41%), e-communications (32%) and rail transport (23%).

"Improving the UK's transport network is extremely important but infrastructure is about more than just roads and railways - it is about creating a business environment and road map for growth that paves the way for small firms to be successful and create jobs," said Jane Bennett at the Forum. "We want the Government to build on what it is doing to create a joined-up system where projects on transport and communication work in harmony with proactive policies on energy, tax and red tape to boost business and consumer confidence and put the economy back on track."

She added: "There is clearly a regional perspective to all of this, with firms in different locations with some issues greater for firms in certain locations. We have noted before that there is something of a 'postcode lottery' for public late sector payments, for example, and it appears the same is true in other areas of business, such as variances in business rates and raw material costs as well as transport links."

A total of 74% of members feel that their location is effective for their business needs, with proximity to good road networks the main reason, given by 16% of respondents.

Centrality (14%) and footfall (9%) are other key factors.

Across the North-east and Yorkshire 74% of respondents believe that being based in the region is proving 'effective' or 'very effective' for their businesses. …

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