Cbi Director General in Bristol: time to power up the South West
In her first speech of the year in Bristol this month the CBI Director General Dame Carolyn Fairbairn will say it is time to ‘power up the South West’ and ensure the 2020’s is a ‘decade of delivery for the region and the wider UK. In her speech she will also call for a Cabinet ‘Minister for the South West’ to champion the region in government.
In her speech at Old Vic in Bristol she will touch on some of the biggest issues in the region and will say that ‘this region can stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the Northern Powerhouse and Midlands Engine’.
On Powering up the South West, Carolyn is expected to say:
“As the Great South West campaign and recently created Western Gateway shows us, this region can stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the Northern Powerhouse and Midlands Engine.
“And every South West Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) is clear about what’s needed to increase productivity and growth.
“Most important is access to a better-connected, more resilient transport network.”
Carolyn will then lay out of some of the infrastructure improvements needed in the region, she is expected to say:
“Focusing on upgrades across the M5, a new dual carriageway to ease congestion on the A303, effective and efficient public transport in rural areas and better links to Bristol Airport – to improve travel now.
“And, for the future, rolling out charging infrastructure for electric vehicles and smart roads. So, we welcome the Chancellor’s recent commitment to boost infrastructure investment.
“Now, we must ensure the South West gets the funding it needs, to deliver these improvements.”
Carolyn will then call for a ‘Minister for the South West’, she is expected to say:
“We believe it’s time that the government gave the South West its own ministerial champion with a seat in Cabinet, alongside the existing Ministers for the Midlands Engine and Northern Powerhouse.
“These ministerial champions could also help prioritise progress on local industrial strategies and plans for further devolution, that the CBI has long called for.
“Giving local leaders greater clarity on the power and resources available to help their region thrive.”
On immigration, Carolyn will say:
“Then, just as pressing is getting the reforms to immigration right. Delivering the control that will secure public confidence, while being open to the workers businesses need.
“With an ageing population and the country’s highest employment rate, many businesses here already struggle to fill vacancies, relying on people from around the world to help produce our food care for us when we’re older design and build our homes and bring new ideas into our industries.
“Without detailed plans from government, firms are worried about what the new system, the biggest change to UK immigration in almost thirty years,will mean for their workforce, and the extra bureaucracy it could create.
“Some are also unable to commit to raising their wages bill to meet the possible minimum salary requirement of £30,000. As a country, we need to get these changes right – first time.”