Chambers of Commerce throw their backing behind ambitious proposals

SIX Chambers of Commerce, representing more than 12,000 businesses, have told the Chancellor they are behind ambitious plans to empower industry across the North of England.

The business membership organisations have written to George Osborne, welcoming the One North plan put forward by five local authorities earlier this year.

The letter has been signed by the Chief Executives of the North East Chamber of Commerce, Hull and Humber Chamber of Commerce, Liverpool & Sefton Chambers of Commerce, Sheffield Chamber of Commerce and Industry, West and North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce.

One North was launched in July and proposes a series of significant investments in transport and connectivity infrastructure over the next 16 years. It received a positive welcome from the Chancellor, who indicated he would respond to the proposals in his Autumn Statement, due on December 3rd.

West & North Yorkshire Chief Executive, Sandy Needham, said: “Our members are very much behind the principle of improved connectivity across the North of England, which will unlock the huge assets within the northern economy. A united northern chambers network stands ready to work with our local authorities and the Government to ensure this initiative delivers benefits across the North and meets businesses’ expectations.

“Infrastructure in the North has been under-developed for decades and addressing this is essential to achieve economic rebalancing and create the ‘northern powerhouse’ that Government has spoken of.

“While transport is by no means our members’ sole concern, it is consistently a high priority across all of our organizations. We therefore urge progress to ensure the opportunity to deliver these investments is not missed.”

The Chambers involved in producing this response represent businesses in the five cities involved in developing theOne Northplan. However, we also represent geographies that go well beyond that. It is critical that support for this project expands beyond the relatively narrow boundaries of the local authorities concerned, and that the strategy that is delivered produces benefits more widely across the North.

Sandy added: “The North has the capacity to support much greater levels of economic activity. There is available land for development, at a cheaper cost, than many parts of the South. Development can be delivered without putting the same pressure on environmental resources, such as water.

“In supporting One North, the Northern Chambers of Commerce are calling on other organizations across the North to work together, to ensure the opportunity to transform connectivity across the North of England is grasped.

“We expect the strategy to be given a high priority by local authorities and the Government with the Chambers ready to play a part in articulating business views on proposals and helping to develop projects further.

“A strong commitment to deliver this strategy should be made in the Autumn Statement of 2014, receiving cross-party support to give confidence that a 15-year investment plan will be seen through by any future governments over that period.”