Challenges and Opportunities for the Transport & Logistics Sector in 2016

Posted on: May 27th, 2016

Coffin Mew recently met with thirty business leaders from the transport and logistics sector, to discuss the challenges which their organisations face.

Our discussions were wide-ranging, and covered the region’s ageing and inadequate road and rail networks, a lack of government investment, and a skills deficit in the sector. It was generally agreed that these issues are holding businesses back, and that a coordinated commercial and government response is necessary in order to meet these challenges and boost the local economy.

Colleagues from across the sector identified further areas which need to be addressed, both by the private and public sectors. Click here to view the White Paper which was issued as a result of these discussions. The areas identified included:

  • a lack of understanding by public sector decision-makers about the impact which roadworks have on businesses.
  • how will our existing infrastructure cope with new developments, such as Whiteley near Fareham, and the need for 100,000 extra homes in the area over the next 30 years?
  • how do we encourage the public to use public transport, or cycle or walk more especially when fuel prices are so low and private and public car parking is relatively cheap and plentiful, so that there is little incentive for people to get out of their cars?
  • the top jobs in the South seem to go to people from outside our area rather than locals, leading to more skilled workers moving or commuting to or from the area and more cars on the roads. There is a need to up-skill local people to retain and develop jobs in the South.
  • tourism in the South suffers because there is a lack of integrated ticketing on transport links from the capital. Capacity on rail lines to and from London as well as within the South also needs to be increased, to encourage more tourism to this area by sustainable means.
Challenges & Ops

South Coast businesses appreciate the need for private sector investment, but they do not see government match funding here in the same way as in the Northern Powerhouses. While investment is undoubtedly needed for transport and infrastructure in the North, the concern is that the South will be overlooked, although there are significant problems in this area as well. This is an area whose economic well-being is central to the performance of the nation’s economy as a whole. For example, millions from private investment has been spent dredging the Port of Southampton but government investment has gone to Liverpool.

There is also a skills shortage in the region. For example, we have a local shortage of adequately trained HGV drivers, pilots and marine welders, among other vocational workers. Schools need to put more emphasis on vocational training and apprenticeships than on academic courses. This will lead to more local people being recruited and fewer workers having to be found outside the UK.

We are actively engaging with local and national government in order to drive engagement and change. In particular:

  • The Government’s response focusses on funding made available through the LEP, driving educational change through devolution, increasing financial incentives to complete roadworks on time, national and local investment on cycling, and greater focus on smart ticketing solutions in rail franchise opportunities
  • Locally, the Portsmouth North MP Flick Drummond is a key advocate for major government investment into improvements to the rail system, as part of the Solent Strategic plan. Flick would be delighted to hold meetings with business leaders to discuss these plans, and what you can do to contribute. Critically, in order to secure government funding, it is vital that local businesses make sure that their voices are heard. They can do this by writing to the LEP or Flick (copying in George Osborne if you wish…) to indicated what local changes need to be made and supported by government funding, and demonstrating how your business – and therefore the local economy – will benefit economically from these changes.

Coffin Mew have a dedicated and specialist transport and logistics legal advisory team, if you would like to find out more about our services please contact Nick Gross on 023 9236 4314 or email nickgross@coffinmew.co.uk.