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Posted by Ian Bell on Feb 13, 2015 in Articles, Local Government, National Government | 0 comments

Make sure you help business have its say.

Make sure you help business have its say.

We are now only four months away from vital elections which will have a tremendous impact on the way our economy grows in general and how individual businesses prosper … or not.

May 7th is the day that we will be voting, not only for two MPs in Bath and North East Somerset but also for the entire membership of the Council. It will be a red letter day and the outcome of the vote will matter.

I have heard the cynicism of people who have become disconnected from modern politics because they are suspicious of the motives of the people who put themselves up for election. But I would say to them that the vast majority of candidates genuinely want to help the community they serve. Rather than opting out of the process I would encourage everyone, whichever party you support, to become involved. In particular I think it is vital for people in business to make sure that candidates know their views.

I have written previously about the concept of businesses having a vote, but I realise that will not happen any time soon. Instead, the individuals in the business community need to think about what it is that they would like to see their MPs and Councillors do for them and then to get that message over.

My job as Director of the Initiative in B&NES and Bath Chamber of Commerce is to ensure that our members’ have their voice heard. And as part of Business West, we will be contributing to what you might call a wider “manifesto” for business in which we link together with other Chambers to produce a coherent message.

What should that message be? You may have your own views, and I would be delighted to hear them. For me, it’s all about pursuing consistent and helpful outcomes. So I don’t think we should get bogged down in calling for combined local authorities or even a Mayor which will be nothing more than a distraction. However, I do think we should encourage councillors to consider partnerships with other councils to deliver specific results. For example, it might be helpful for B&NES to combine with the Councils that used to be Avon in certain circumstances but also to join forces with Wiltshire and Somerset in others. For that matter there may be targets which all six could aim at, maybe even drawing in Swindon.

In other words, I would like to see Councillors elected who have economic prosperity at the top of their agenda, willing to co-operate with neighbouring authorities when it makes sense, eager to promote policies which make it easier for businesses to develop and grow, to improve transport links, enhance virtual connectivity and deliver much needed and well designed housing.

Over the next few weeks, every candidate, whether they are standing for the Local Council or the National Parliament will be listening. There will doubtless be a loud range of voices all making a case for their own particular interests. Please do what you can to ensure that the needs of business are heard. We have the opportunity – don’t miss it.

If you would like to offer your ideas, contact Ian at info@bathchamber.co.uk

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