1. ITV Report

Exclusive: M5 delays cost the South West millions

Photo: PA

Twelve separate incidents of major delays on the M5 over the Summer have had a huge cost to the region's economy.

Calculations by the Devon and Cornwall Business Council have estimated the loss of trade as up to £75 million.

Products stuck in traffic jams, associated delays on neighbouring roads and the impact on tourism have all been taken into consideration.

Credit: PA Wire

One business that's been directly affected is the Ministry of Cake factory. For them the dualing of the A303 and A358 would be a recipe for success. The firm's main production base is in Taunton so it's ideally located to use the improved road.

But with lorries bringing in perishable ingredients and taking out cakes for distribution across the UK and Europe, lengthy delays on the M5 can lead to the factory grinding to a halt.

If the lorry is stuck on the motorway because there is a serious jam and it's closed then there's every chance that that cream delivery will be spoilt and we can't use it.

Then you've got the double knock on of having to get a second delivery of more cream coming down and it's not just cream, we buy ten tonnes of eggs a week, we buy eighteen tonnes of sugar, we buy twelve tonnes of flour so combine that with the number of lorry movements we've got coming in and out and it is problematic for us.

– Chris Ormrod, Ministry of Cake
Credit: ITV News
instances of delays lasting 5 or more hours over the Summer
instances of delays lasting 10 or more hours over the Summer
During the last 3 months researchers identified 12 situations where there were delays of 5 or more hours on the M5. Credit: ITV News

During the last 3 months researchers identified 12 situations where there were delays of 5 or more hours on the M5 into the region, 3 were for more than 10 hours.

If you add all of that up and look at the cumulative effect then these are really big numbers and is why we've been asking for a second artery into the South West, we can't keep relying on one road in the M5 is over capacity.

– Tim Jones, Devon & Cornwall Business Council

The conclusion is that this has cost businesses in Somerset, Devon and Cornwall between £50 to £75 million. An improved A303 and A358 at a cost of £2 billion to upgrade would by Government calculations provide an uplift to the South West economy of £40 billion.

The Devon and Cornwall Business Council believes the buzz coming out of Government is that in the Chancellor's Autumn Statement next month the road will finally get the green light to begin.