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A303 / A358 road improvements
Good highway connections are essential for Somerset business and the Chamber supports the proposed dualling of both roads. Highways England published its document, “Improving journeys to the South West – the case for the A303/A358 corridor” back in February 2018. However, there are no firm timescales in place for the proposed upgrades and remain concerned the work is being split into eight separate schemes. Just three are currently being progressed in the current funding round. We will continue to campaign on behalf of our members for all eight of these vital schemes to be fully-funded and implemented and seek confirmation of a set timetable for their delivery.
Greater availability of high speed and ultrafast broadband across Somerset
Connectivity is vital for local businesses and the wider South West. Our members consistently tell us slow broadband speeds and poor connections are hampering the growth of their businesses. We need to make sure our digital infrastructure is suited to the needs of modern-day operations and processes. The Chamber will continue to campaign for faster broadband and quicker installation to ensure businesses remain competitive in our increasingly digital economy. The findings of our county-wide broadband survey will enable us to help businesses, by identifying problem areas and trying to find solutions to the issue of poor coverage and slow connection speeds.
Business park developments and ‘clean growth’
Gravity near Bridgwater, Nexus 25 near Taunton and the Somer Valley Enterprise Zone near Midsomer Norton and Radstock. Just some of the many business parks being built around the county. It is vital we support investment in the infrastructure needed to support new jobs, innovation and ‘clean growth’ – we want the county to embrace leading-edge areas such as Artificial Intelligence, advanced engineering and robotics. These business parks provide much needed space for businesses to grow and flourish. The Chamber will actively encourage these and other developments which help businesses to start-up, relocate, expand or diversify through the provision of dedicated business parks and spaces.
Challenging the Northern Powerhouse and London-centric thinking
The Chamber is actively championing Somerset and the South West as a great place to do business. We are a founder member of the British Chambers of Commerce South West South West which gives the region a single, strong voice for business from Cornwall and Devon to Somerset, Bristol and Dorset. We want fair funding and investment for the South West, coupled with good transport links to help the South West be a leading light in the UK economy.
Hinkley Point C
The Chamber is working in partnership with HPC developer EDF Energy to provide a local supply chain to maximise the benefits of the largest construction project in Europe for Somerset, South West and South Wales companies. We support the construction of the first new nuclear power station in a generation and will continue to work with local companies once HPC is built and new opportunities arise at Sizewell C and Bradwell.
The expansion of Bristol Airport
Good transport links are essential for business and it is important the region is not left out on a limb. The Chamber is supporting the proposed expansion of Bristol Airport in North Somerset as it will bring new jobs and open up new trade routes and links for businesses.
The Great Western Freeport bid
Freeports are designated by Government and will have special economic status, operating with little or no tax in order to encourage economic activity. Companies operating within freeports can benefit from deferring the payment of taxes until their products are moved elsewhere, or can avoid them altogether if they bring in goods to store or manufacture on site before exporting them again. Somerset Chamber has joined business leaders from across the region to support the Great Western Freeport bid.
Skills and training
Through our partnership with the Somerset Education Business Partnership, the Chamber will continue to support local training providers, schools and colleges to ensure tomorrow’s school leavers and graduates have the skills employers need. The partnership is an important link between the business and education communities and the Chamber will work to ensure the necessary investment in skills and training to support the needs of our members.