FSB highlights rural roads investment requirements

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FSB highlights rural roads investment requirements (image credit: iStock/TomasSereda)

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has called upon the government to increasingly prioritise improvements to the UK's rural roads network, as well as its ongoing investment in flagship infrastructure schemes.

Following the publication of a new report from the body entitled 'Going the extra mile: Connecting businesses and rural communities', the FSB has showcased the considerable proportion of small business operators across the nation that claim they would benefit greatly from increased investment in this area.

The importance of delivering a transport network that is fit to meet the needs of 21st century travellers is something that the government has embraced in recent years, with billions of pounds being channelled into upgrades for many of the UK's busiest routes.

However, as a survey of FSB members has now revealed, just ten per cent of small company leaders in rural areas believe they have witnessed an improvement in the state of roads in their area since these high-profile schemes were launched.

Mike Cherry, national chairman for the FSB, said: "The government is investing in transport - but the lion's share goes to big flagship projects on the strategic road network. Most small businesses mainly rely on their local roads and public transport, so there is a strong case to prioritise investment in these smaller projects, which will help to alleviate congestion and bottlenecks.

"The current devolution agenda in England presents a real opportunity to make a positive difference to rural communities. Small businesses want to see more resources earmarked for rural transport. This will help support rural small businesses as well as the UK tourism industry, which are both disproportionately affected when local bus networks and roads are left to deteriorate."

Overall, the top three issues raised by the FSB's report related to issues of congestion that cause headaches for businesses in rural areas and can see extra costs faced by businesses that are more off the beaten track in terms of their connectivity to the most popular and heavily invested transport links at present.

Potholes and the impact these hazards can have in terms of both danger to motorists and the damage they can cause to vehicles was also a serious concern for many respondents, while the ongoing high cost of fuel in the UK was also shown be an issue for many firms.

However, by investing in enhanced transport schemes for many rural areas of the country, and by focusing on addressing these chief concerns by the nation's smaller businesses, it is hoped that the coming years could see a dramatic increase in the proportion of companies that are benefiting from the ongoing massive investment in transport infrastructure that the government is so keen to highlight at present.