Champions met with local MP’s to discuss business priorities for 2018
Business South Chair Hazel Warwick facilitated an event that saw business leaders come together with Penny Mordaunt MP, Royston Smith MP and Alan Whitehead MP.
Business South Chair Hazel Warwick facilitated an event on Friday 23 March at the Southampton Harbour Hotel that saw business leaders come together with Penny Mordaunt MP, Royston Smith MP and Alan Whitehead MP to address some of their business priorities for the coming year.
John Mitchell, CEO Business South said “It’s important for the business community to be able to engage with their local MP’s and discuss the wider issues that impact on all of us. We were pleased to be able to provide the bridge between the private sector and central and local government and to facilitate discussions that have positive outcomes not just for our Champions but for the region as a whole.”
Champions were representing sectors such as Regen, Digital, Education, Housing, Hospitality and Transport.
Discussions were had around the Port of Southampton and its importance to the region particularly the Cruise and Automotive trade. Could Southampton be the UK Port for trade with its 9 shipping lanes to 40 countries? Is there potential for Southampton to be come a “Freeport”?
Brexit and the impact on the ability to trade without barriers and what it could mean for cross border trade in the future was voiced as a real concern. One of biggest challenges identified by the businesses was no clear lines of communication from the government directly to the business community providing factual information and reassurance to business owners. Understanding key objectives of Brexit is imperative for businesses to plan for it.
Other conversations around talent acknowledged that attracting and retaining talent remained a challenge. The Digital sector is one of the biggest employers in the South and we need to invest in talent to meet this need. It was acknowledged that we need to engage people much earlier in their school lives and give them hands on work experience and discuss all possible career options open to them.
Final topic for the morning was Regeneration with particular focus on how to meet the region’s needs for housing and the skilled workforce able to deliver it, as it is an aging workforce. Is modular housing something to consider? Is there a link between retaining talent and affording housing?
This meeting followed on from some of our Business Champions visiting the House of Commons in 2017, and built upon the strong relationship we have with local MPs The topics and priorities discussed at this meeting are reflected in sectors represented by Business South’s Action Groups. Our next MP /Champion engagement is planned for Summer 2018.