Business Leaders Back Next Steps in Transport at Busy Conference
Exciting transport developments and how they can help boost business were the focus of a well-attended conference recently.
Next Steps for Transport Sustainability was jointly hosted by DBF (Deeside Business Forum), Jack Sargeant, Assembly Member for Alyn and Deeside, and Flintshire County Council at the Mostyn Theatre at Deeside 6th, Connah’s Quay.
It was attended by business delegates, Alyn and Deeside MP Mark Tami, Wrexham MP Ian Lucas and Flintshire County Councillors.
Speakers were Mr Sargeant, Lee Robinson, Transport for Wales’s North Wales Development Director, Carolyn Thomas, Flintshire County Council’s Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Streetscene, Highway Strategy Manager Anthony Stanford, and Technical and Performance Manager Ian Bushell.
The consensus was that while highway improvements to ease congestion at Deeside Industrial Park were welcome, affordable integrated public transport and active travel is key to opening up employment opportunities to all and to improving health.
Projects discussed included the Welsh Government’s Red Route Deeside Corridor improvements and upgrade of the River Dee Bridge.
Flintshire Council will be building and operating a park and ride for Deeside Industrial Park, has already linked the employment centre up with cycleways and is introducing bus lanes for priority bus and cycle transport. There will also be changes to junctions to alleviate congestion on the B5129 Shotton to Queensferry and improved signalling at Flint.
Transport for Wales confirmed plans to increase weekday trains between Wrexham and Bidston to two trains an hour by the end of 2021 as part of the North East Wales Metro.
Other proposed plans include a railway station to serve Deeside Industrial Park and the Northern Gateway development.
A lively question and answer session saw discussions around making transport available to older people, young people and rural communities, how to get bus companies to support more routes, cross-border transport links, businesses providing changing facilities for employees using active travel, and how local transport developments are publicised.
Mr Sargeant referred to a 3,751-signature petition ‘Buses for People not Profit’ brought to the Senedd by Cllr Carolyn Thomas on behalf of residents. He said that access to transport services and the loss of certain bus routes was a concern for constituents, so he’s delighted that Transport Minister Ken Skates is bringing forward a public transport bill.
He said: “Physical mobility is central to social mobility, cohesion and thriving communities. We all deserve to breathe clean air and the default for our daily commute shouldn’t be the car. Buses should be cheap, reliable and zero-carbon and serve urban and rural communities.”
DBF president and co-chair of Transport for the North’s Wales forum Lord Barry Jones PC said he was passionate about getting the infrastructure and transport our region needs for business growth.
Councillor Carolyn Thomas said 25% of people in Wales rely on public transport. She added:
“Flintshire is committed to working with the business community and other partners to ensure that North East Wales gets the investment that it requires in its infrastructure so that many more organisations will see our area as a great place to do business – ensuring our region gets the economic boost it deserves.
“Many people are unable to access the jobs at Deeside Industrial Park as they rely on public transport. There are also issues with congestion in an around the area. Officers have come up with the schemes, Welsh Government has given the funding, now it is up to businesses to engage with the council regarding the detail and promote them to their employees to help drive behaviour change from single use cars to alternative transport.”
DBF chairman Askar Sheibani said:
“DBF events bring business together to hear about the latest developments in business, transport and infrastructure across North Wales and the North West of England.
“It’s vital businesses are engaged in these transport projects and in investment projects like the North Wales Growth Deal so that they can be involved in decisions and seize all available opportunities.
“This latest event was extremely successful in this regard and we’re now looking forward to our next event the North Wales Business Exhibition at Coleg Cambria on October 30.”
Cllr Carolyn Thomas
Lord Barry Jones
Flintshire County Councillors attending the event