Devolution deal is within our grasp – let’s not miss out
With the EU referendum outcome dominating headlines, we want to remind people about the hugely important West of England devolution deal.
This Wednesday night they have the chance to show strong collective leadership and press ahead with the West of England devolution deal.
Commenting ahead of tonight’s meeting, James Durie, Chief Executive of Bristol Chamber & Initiative at Business West and a West of England LEP board member, said:
“Since the Brexit decision was announced last Friday, we at Business West have been working hard to hear from and support our members and understand the possible implications for their businesses in Bristol and the South West – how they are feeling and what decisions they are making.
“A snap poll we sent out yesterday received over 200 responses within a few hours and it’s clear that many businesses have put investment decisions on hold and suspended recruitment – at least until the dust has settled. We’ve also heard cases of immediate price increases, staff reductions, acquisitions stopped and one consideration of relocation overseas.
“On the other hand, there are businesses telling us they think there will be no or little impact and for the time being at least business continues as normal.
“Businesses are calling for economic and political stability, for strong leadership and a coherent plan and clarity on what happens next. But, just at the moment and in the immediate future, I think this is exactly what we won’t get from Government.
“However, at a local level, our councils have, within their grasp, a very important opportunity and decision to make. This Wednesday they have the chance to show strong collective leadership and press ahead with the West of England devolution deal.
“The business community I serve believes it will strengthen this area for the long term and will benefit everyone who lives and works here. It will also send out a very strong signal of long term confidence for this area at a time when positive action is much needed.
“The £1bn devolution deal negotiated and on offer for Bristol, South Gloucestershire, Bath & North East Somerset provides more funding than any other deal has achieved across the country. And this week the Government has reiterated that it remains on the table for us.
“It will put important new powers and monies into the hands of local decision makers and give this area the ability to take forward investment support on transport, housing, skills and much more beyond.
“Whatever the outcome of last Friday, we are a growth area and a fantastic place to live and work but we need to be able to address together all the challenges this brings for the benefit of everyone. Just like business we will need to get on and make decisions. We simply cannot afford to stand still on this.
“The business community has worked closely with the councils to help secure a good deal for this area. I now hope that the councillors will agree to move forward and make this decision, which is within their grasp, whilst it is on the table. Let’s not miss out.”