Sunday, 30 October 2016

Brexit: and the South-West Growth Summit

Has the economy in the South-West fared well after the Brexit vote?
Futures Forum: Brexit: and the Devon economy growing - but more slowly

The signals are very contradictory - with reports from earlier in the month:
South West manufacturers express Brexit worries | Insider Media Ltd
'South West economy leads Brexit recovery' | News | The Cornish Times

- and from the last couple of days:
Research shows South West businesses are ready to exploit Brexit (From Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard)
Market sentiment dips - but still up on immediately after Brexi...

There is a big push post-referendum for investment in 'infrastructure':
Futures Forum: Brexit: and the future of infrastructure projects in the South-West

With the PM promising dividends for the South-West:
Theresa May: Why I think Heathrow is good for Plymouth | Plymouth Herald

Meanwhile, the SW Growth Summit has happened:
South West Growth Summit | Devon and Cornwall Business Council
WMN opinion: South West Growth Summit marks the start of a prosperous future | Plymouth Herald

Here are some reports just out on the Summit:

From South Devon's MP:

The South West Growth Summit 2016 was held at Exeter University on 21st October. Hosted by Pennon Group, owners of South West Water and Viridor Waste Management, the event provided a significant opportunity for the South West business community, Local Enterprise Partnerships, local leaders, Members of Parliament and academic institutions to come together. It is the first time I can recall businesses in the community coming together to speak in a single voice, being proactive in setting an economic vision for the region. The event was extremely welcome and a significant step forward into the future for the South West. It was heartening that the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Rt Hon Sajid Javid MP, was present at the event to address those present and take questions about what the Government plans to do to further the economic prosperity of the South West.

The Government has invested over £30m of funding through Enterprise Zones, designated areas across the country where businesses receive tax breaks and other Government support to encourage investment. Locally, Oceansgate in Plymouth – the old South Yard at the Dockyard, has this crucial designation. To build on this investment, the region needs to continue to take action to grow and develop. This is why I am strongly supporting the South West Growth Charter, a positive, forward-looking vision for the region's economic future. It will set out the region's ideas for making the most of the opportunities available as the UK leaves the European Union. It will spell out the economic framework the region needs in terms of transforming infrastructure, energy requirements and connectivity. The Charter will be presented to Government ahead of the Autumn Statement in November.

To make the most of these opportunities it is crucial that business works hand in glove with the Local Enterprise Partnerships in Devon, Cornwall and Somerset and local Members of Parliament who are able to speak up for the region in the House of Commons.

I am very keen to support this business initiative and congratulate Pennon Group for taking the lead and look forward to working with them and businesses across the region to ensure we receive our fair share of investment and infrastructure.

Gary Streeter MP for South West Devon - Home

From Honiton's MP:

Friday, 21 October, 2016

Neil attended the South West Growth Summit on Friday at Exeter University. Organised by the Pennon Group, the summit focused on boosting jobs and economic activity in the South West region.

Neil appeared on a panel on how local and national government can boost investment in the South West. As it currently stands, the South West receives far less in funding than other UK regions. The Secretary of State for Local Government, Sajid Javid, spoke at the event on how the Government was looking to support the South West in the same way it has backed the 'Northern Powerhouse' and 'Midlands Engine' projects.

Neil said:

"The South West has never got its fair share of funding and transport infrastructure over the least few decades from Government. We have so many great businesses in the South West with such high potential. With the right investment in infrastructure like the A30/A303 and better rail links, we have a bright future ahead of us."

South West Growth Summit | Neil Parish

And from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors:

Putting the South West in focus

Tamara Hooper, Policy Manager - South and East UK (RICS)

28 Oct 2016

The South West is a large and geographically varied region, with requirements and needs just as vast and varied. Therefore, we welcome the move to create a South West Growth charter and applaud the support for this from Government through a speech by Sajid Javid at the South West Growth Summit earlier this week.

Geographically from London, Bristol and Birmingham are approximately the same distance, as is the distance between London and both Plymouth and Manchester respectively. However Bristol and Plymouth are within the same region and the other two are stalwarts of the new powerhouse and engine room regions, highlighting the great vastness and distance within the South West region.

More focus please

More focus must be given to the South West and its great capacity for growth and contribution to the UK economy. Bristol is the only core city within the south outside of London, and in 2010-2015 there has been a growth of 14.5% in active business units.

This growth must be met with proper infrastructure and housing. In Cornwall housing pressures are just as great, St Ives voted earlier this year to restrict the sale of new builds to second home owners to try alleviate the issue.

However despite having the same needs, the solutions cannot be the same and the uniqueness of the causation must be taken into account. This Government must continue with its recent policy of housing across all tenures, because only then can the South West be supported to build the homes it needs and not the homes Government imposes.

Support for the South West

In the previous administration many announcements were made to support growth within the South West including continued powers for Cornwall devolution, support for the aerospace industry and infrastructure upgrades including the electrification of the line to London. These ambitions and announcements must be continued.

While Mr Javid outlines the greater need for local momentum and responsibility, something that authorities within the region would welcome and have called for it, it must be acknowledged that, while local led, the regional focus of a Midlands Engine Room and Northern Powerhouse is supported by central government not just in having a Minister responsible one of the regions, but in major decision making such as HS2 and HS3.

Large infrastructure decisions must be made that benefit and support any locally led ambitions for the South West.

What are the barriers?

One of the biggest barriers to growth is the lack of access to proper broadband and mobile coverage. Within his speech the Minister re-iterated the promise for 90% voice and text coverage by next year nationally and 95% nationally having super-fast broadband.

In a modern age where business is digital anything less than 100% is not acceptable, as the Minister said himself: “In the 21st century a fast reliable internet connection is as important to most businesses as electricity”.

He also highlighted the many no signal areas on his SW travels, by supporting and applauding 90% it keeps those 10% “not-spots”, and cutting “places plagued by ‘not-spots’ like the rural South West” by two thirds still disadvantages a third of families; business; and South West rural residents.

A focus on the South West is overdue and welcomed, but national policies must also reflect this focus including rural proofing announcements so that those living in rural SW aren’t disadvantaged. Government must not neglect the South West in its ambitions for the North and Midlands, more must be done for the South West which has proven it can grow, now the Government needs to give it the ability to do so.

Putting the South West in focus

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