Somerset Chamber of Commerce is calling for the region’s politicians and governing bodies to refocus on the needs of South West businesses following the publication of the latest GDP figures, which show weak results overall for the UK economy.
Published on 27 April by the ONS, the GDP figures for Q1 2018 show the slowest quarterly growth in the UK economy since Quarter 4 (Oct to Dec) 2012. This was driven by a sharp decline in construction output and a sluggish manufacturing sector, while growth in the services industry also slowed.
Chris Langdon, Interim CEO of Somerset Chamber, said: “Government at all levels needs to step up and focus now on getting the domestic environment right for businesses to invest and grow. The relentless focus on the Brexit negotiations is a distraction that is creating issues for the economy as a whole, stalling progress and productivity within the UK business environment.
“Here in Somerset, Chamber members tell us they need much faster, more effective action on road infrastructure. Traffic hold-ups on the A303 and A358 waste a huge amount of business time, so Highways England and the local authorities must make sure there is no slippage on the timetable for dualling the A303 and A358.
“Many parts of Somerset also need faster broadband and more rapid progress in delivering this. Businesses are simply not going to invest in locations where they do not have confidence in the digital infrastructure. For Somerset, the rural and secondary locations are as important as the larger towns.
“The discussions around improvements to our local infrastructure have been dragging on for years, so it’s time for government to stop fixating on Brexit and refocus on the basic foundations that businesses need in order to function and thrive.”