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Phil Smith of Business West

Business West issues list of demands ahead of General Election

Regional Chamber of Commerce Business West has published a 15-point list of demands ahead of May’s General Election.

The Business West manifesto was launched at the chairman’s Winter Reception held at Leigh Court in Bristol on Thursday (January 22).

The manifesto was informed by consultation with 18,000 business members, which include firms in Swindon through Influence Swindon.

The ‘asks’ of local MPs and the incoming government covers 15 areas, including Infrastructure, Transport, Digital Connectivity, Energy, Housing, Skills, and Taxation.

Among the specifics are:

Transport: A commitment to the proposed A303 Stonehenge tunnel.

Rail: Delivery of electrification to Swindon, and commitment to the extension of electrification to the entire regional network.

Rail: Re-establishment of direct passenger rail services from Bristol to Oxford, via Swindon, in the next First Great Western franchise and investment to deliver a high speed ‘brain train’ from Bristol to Oxford and Cambridge, via Bath and Swindon.

Digital Connectivity: Ensure UK businesses have access to world-class digital infrastructure by introducing a new national target that matches the most ambitious targets in other EU countries, and not just countries of a comparable size.

Skills & Employment: Improve the availability of further and higher education opportunities in Swindon & Wiltshire.

Investing in ‘Place’: Improve the connections between the North and South of the railway in Swindon to enhance the coherence and attractiveness of the town centre.

Phil Smith, managing director of Business West said:“”This Business Manifesto also recognises that our cities, towns and counties are in competition with other parts of the UK – competition for people and skills; for business and jobs and for investment.

“We argue the case for improvements to our hard and soft infrastructure. With Scotland, Manchester and Wales already promised extra powers and investment, we must make sure that our region is not disadvantaged. Our vision is for the region to be a more confident, more enterprising, more skilled place to start and grow a business.

“The decisions taken by local and national politicians in the next Parliament will have a crucial impact on future prosperity.

“Our asks are predicated on our position that economic growth and business success must not come at the price of inequalities, environmental or societal cost if our region is to be the best place to run a business, to work and to live.”