Following the welcome announcement by UK Government that the tolls on the Severn bridges would be abolished by end of 2018, our Chamber Director, Heather, was today able to find out more. The Secretary of State for Wales, Alun Cairns MP invited a small number of business leaders from Wales and the South West and a number of hauliers to discuss the wider implications of this decision. It was clear that decision was universally supported by all present. The implications for the movement of goods and people, across what has previously been an artificial barrier, was unanimously welcomed. In addition we were informed that there would be no bridge toll increase before the abolition.
The challenges moving forward relate to the accommodation of increase road traffic on the M4, in advance of the alleviation by the M4 Relief Road, electrification of the rail network and the Cardiff Metro. A number of issues and solutions were identified which included:
- Better communication of timescales
- Reviewing the lanes the narrowing to two lanes that happen along the stretch for the bridge to the Brynglas tunnels
- Consideration of how the speed limits could be used to keep traffic flowing
- Better signage of alternative routes
- Looking a road traffic management systems of other complex and congested roads in the Uk and overseas.
The common sectoral strengths of both Wales and the West were discussed with the digital technology; compound semi-conductor and Financial services being strong sectors on both sides of the Severn, and understanding how the toll abolition can help support and grow these sectors will be the subject of ongoing discussion.
This gives the Chamber network a great opportunity and it was very pleasing to see the western Chambers of commerce present represented by Business West. This is also particularly helpful in light of the Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Infrastructure Cabinet announcement on 19th July that he has approved funding to contribute towards the Hinkley Supply Chain Programme. In all senses businesses can have more optimism in looking to the West of England for business
Our President Liz Mayer comments on the news here