ARMAGH City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council is to spend £30,000 on a range of initiatives to sustain and grow the transport and logistics sector locally.
The matter was discussed at a meeting of Council’s economic development and regeneration committee.
Members were told the borough is home to approximately 17 per cent of Northern Ireland’s transport and logistics firms with 296 companies based within the borough.
Locally, 2,800 people are employed by the sector – 63 per cent of which are employed by small and medium sized enterprises.
Members were also informed that since January 2021 officers have been engaging weekly with local hauliers to understand issues and challenges impacting the sector.
It is with this dialogue, and a presentation from sectoral representatives at March’s committee meeting, that officers have drafted the action plan.
The proposed action plan will see £20,000 spent on sectoral engagement ensuring that council-industry communication and engagement is improved.
Steps taken to ensure this is achieved will include the creation of an ABC Transport and Logistics Forum and Sectoral Voice and delivering bespoke mentoring support and topical webinars for the sector.
Council will also support regional competitiveness by facilitating the research for development of a warehousing and logistics hub and include the strength of the local transport and logistics sector as part of its key message to attract foreign direct investment.
A further £10,000 will be spent on supporting education and training in the sector with council committed to promoting the sector and career opportunities through engagement with schools, colleges, training providers and labour market partnerships at local job fairs.
Council will also work with Southern Regional College to develop training and apprenticeship opportunities to future-proof skills for the sector. It will also seek to provide support to increase skills including support for HGV licensing, administration and other roles identified by the sector.
The action plan also sees council make a commitment to lobby on behalf of the sector, improve physical infrastructure in the borough; develop support for the local transport and logistics sector to maximise digital capability and smart transport and engage with partners, including innovate UK, to identify support to help the sector maximise opportunities.
A proposal to include this action plan in the departmental business plan and agree to approve council spending £30,000 on it was put forward by Deputy Lord Mayor, Councillor Kyle Savage and seconded by his party colleague, Councillor Sam Nicholson.
Councillor Garath Keating told the meeting he was “delighted” to see this piece of work.
“I want to voice my support for this proposal that has come forward off the back of a proposal I made previously,” said Councillor Keating.
“I am delighted to see the work that has gone into this and hopefully it will show this sector we care about it and are focused on meeting the challenges it faces locally to ensure it is in a better place, locally, in the long run.”