Suffolk Chamber Expresses Concern Over Costly Delays Caused by Orwell Bridge Closure
Suffolk Chamber has raised concerns regarding the recent closures of the Orwell Bridge and the significant economic losses inflicted upon the county. The closure not only adversely affected local businesses but also tarnished the county's image in terms of attracting potential investments.
“Not only is news footage of a gridlocked A14 and Ipswich a really bad look in terms of attracting inward investment to our county, it also costs real companies real losses, each and every time it happens.
“The cause of this particular closure was very much a specific and embarrassing own goal by National Highways, and we look forward to them putting better contingency plans in place to avoid such catastrophic delays in future.
“However, the systemic lack of resilience in our sub regional road network around Ipswich and onwards through the county to the rest of the country is costing Suffolk’s hard-pressed businesses dear month in, month out - and not just on Friday
“Suffolk Chamber has been inundated by members informing us of the costs of last week’s closure: from hospitality companies that experienced a direct downturn in custom on Friday night to care providers unable to reach their clients and education institutions unable to deliver lessons and practical classes to their students.
“One of our logistics and transport members reported that they had directly lost £30k as a result: £20k in sales through failed deliveries to customers and another £10k in failed collections of goods originally scheduled for delivery this week.
“ABP colleagues at the Port of Ipswich told us that this latest closure has disrupted their efficient movement of goods, causing delays, logistical challenges, and economic setbacks for the port and its customers. A member in supply chain consultancy summed up the general mood perfectly in saying ‘the ‘ripple effect’ of these periodic outages in terms of service and cost are extremely damaging for all concerned and do not represent 21st century best practice.’
“In short, Suffolk Chamber estimates that Friday’s case of economic vandalism – unintentional though it may have been - cost local firms well into seven figures.
“Although, Suffolk Chamber and its partners have recently seen a number of infrastructure projects approved, including the A12 east of Ipswich and the Ely/Haughley rail junctions, subject to funding confirmation, addressing the woeful vulnerability of the A14 across its route in Suffolk has been downgraded as a national priority by too many policymakers. Even the utter strategic mess that is the Copdock Junction has been pushed back for further consideration to beyond 2030.
“This continued, corrosive political failure is not good enough. Ahead of a General Election, Suffolk Chamber is looking for a commitment from all relevant parties, including ministers, shadow ministers, sitting MPs and prospective MPs to back a proper sub regional solution. Our Transport & Infrastructure Group will be meeting in the New Year to bring them together with National Highways and Transport East to reinvigorate the search for and delivery of possible solutions.”