The UK logistics map is changing. Until quite recently, people in the business used to talk about the ‘golden triangle’ of warehousing and distribution facilities centred on the Birmingham city region.
However, in the last few years, the ‘triangle’ has moved north-west. The 70m radius around Liverpool has the largest volume and density of large warehousing of any UK region, with more than 28% of the UK’s large warehousing located in that area.
That trend is set to continue, with a number of significant investments in supply chain warehousing, including warehouses to serve Waitrose, Aldi, Poundland, B&M, Matalan, Missguided and many others.
This is great news for the area, but it also poses a challenge. While the North-west is significantly less-congested than the South-east, the region has experienced sustained underinvestment in the road and rail infrastructure required to support economic development.
This isn’t a party political point or a swipe at the current administration. Successive governments have been responsible for this lack of funding. We are also very vocal supporters of the Northern Powerhouse initiative.
Yet there’s no doubt the area has been let down and the government has not yet matched the ambition or commitment of the private sector. For example, we have invested £750m in recent years to improve the logistics capabilities of the region to support trade. Our simple ask of the government is to accelerate its plans for the supporting transport infrastructure that we all rely on to facilitate business growth.
We’re pleased that there have been some recent positive developments, with the opening of the M6 – Heysham Link Road and the announcement of a preferred route for improved road access to the Port of Liverpool.
However, there’s much more to do. We have a vision for the region with short-sea shipping, especially around the Irish Sea, trebling container throughput on the Manchester Ship Canal from 30,000TEU to 100,000TEU, and developing a much improved rail freight offering. The capabilities we are creating for shippers and the supply chain are perfectly poised to support sectors such as automotive, energy, food and drink, chemicals and aerospace.
These are also priorities for the government. So, if ministers want their industrial strategy to succeed, it’s time for the public sector to be more aligned with how the private sector is pushing forward UK economic growth.
Warren Marshall, Group Planning Director
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