Hull port

Many suppliers are considering relocating their operations to cities in the North of England in order to be closer to their customer base, delegates were told at a policy seminar in Westminster yesterday.

According to Frank Rogers, deputy chief executive and director of integrated transport services at Merseytravel, an organisation that provides transport advice to the Liverpool city region, some 91% of imports from India enter the UK through the South East, despite 61% of these goods being used north of the Midlands.

“This gives us the opportunity to do some rebalancing on the networks,” Rogers said at the Westminster Energy, Environment and Transport Forum freight policy seminar this week.  “If we can rebalance the freight that comes into the UK and maximise the use of the Northern ports, there is the potential to take up to 156 million HGV miles a year off the UK road network [and] increase GDP.”

He said the organisation is identifying key sites for development in the Liverpool region as demand to move north increases.

“There is a very clear pattern now where suppliers are moving to the North to be closer to their client base, to be able to meet the requirements of just-in-time deliveries and so on.

“It’s becoming fiction that the golden triangle of previous years is located around the East Midlands. But when you look at warehouse densities, it’s actually somewhere around Hull,” Rogers added.

Paul Strang, senior strategy and planning manager (freight and fleet) at TfL, said London is also seeing a shift in where its warehouses are located for cost reasons. But this increases the strain on the city’s road network.

“As property prices in urban areas increase, warehouses are moving further and further away, which means there is more congestion [going into the city] and the negative stuff associated with that,” said Strang.