Bradford-Shipley Route Improvement Consultation

Views are being invited on plans to improve the main roads between Bradford and Shipley.

Information on the plans is online here, including an online questionnaire (hard copy available on request).

Bradford Chamber’s Leadership Group will receive a presentation on this issue at its meeting on 29 January, but we would still like to hear from other members who have time to check out the plans.

An illustration of options is available – click on the ‘possible options’ image to the right – while public drop-in sessions are being held on several January dates. An email or phone call to the Chamber’s policy team on the plans is most welcome – 01274 230057 or email here.

People are being asked about their experiences of using Canal Road/Valley Road and Manningham Lane/Keighley Road, and what changes are most important for the two routes.   Plans include turning the A650 into a high quality bus route, making it more attractive to use public transport, cycling and walking (and so reducing traffic volumes).

Objectives of the plan include:

  • Improving the A650 Manningham Lane/Keighley Road corridor
  • Promoting the A6037 Canal Road/Valley Road as the main strategic route
  • Relive existing congestion issues.

The consultation closes on 8 February.

Chamber delegation met Shadow Chancellor

Business leaders from West & North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce met Labour’s Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell recently.

The senior opposition MP visited Shipley in support of the party’s election candidate, Jo Pike, and included a meeting with the Chamber as part of the trip.  Nick Garthwaite and Suzanne Watson, respectively Bradford Chamber’s president and vice-president, led the business delegation, which also included Chamber board member Stephen Wright and policy executive Mike Cartwright.

The business leaders raised concerns about the effect of hiking up corporation tax, which Labour says is needed to help fund a better education service, and also called for a commitment to tie Bradford into the Northern Powerhouse Rail plan.  Assurances were also sought on securing adequate replacements for EU Structural Funds, currently being explored as the ‘Shared Prosperity Fund’.

There was significant discussion around education and skills issues, with agreement on both sides that implementation of the well-intentioned apprenticeship levy had been unsuccessful.  Mr McDonnell said that Labour was planning to consult on whether or not academy schools should be brought under local authority control, something that the Chamber says could potentially be very disruptive.  However, asked what Labour could do to resolve the current impasse on devolution for Yorkshire, the Shadow Chancellor said it was down to the local areas involved to conclude.

Nick Garthwaite said afterwards: “Despite Labour being in opposition, it is important, when appropriate, for us to have conversations with relevant politicians irrespective of party affiliations.  The exchange of views, concerns and ideas is all part of the policy development and lobbying process.”

Other meeting with politicians in 2018 included:

  • Chris Grayling, Transport Secretary
  • Nusrat Ghani, Transport Under-Secretary
  • Caroline Noakes, Immigration Minister
  • Lord Bridges, Department for Exiting the EU
  • Peter Dowd, Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury

Business groups appeal to politicians to prevent ‘No Deal’

The UK’s five leading business groups, representing thousands of businesses across the UK employing millions of people, have united to call on politicians to prevent a disorderly ‘no-deal’ Brexit on 29 March.

“Businesses have been watching in horror as politicians have focused on factional disputes rather than practical steps that business needs to move forward. The lack of progress in Westminster means that the risk of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit is rising. Businesses of all sizes are reaching the point of no return, with many now putting in place contingency plans that are a significant drain of time and money.

“Firms are pausing or diverting investment that should be boosting productivity, innovation, jobs and pay into stockpiling goods or materials, diverting cross border trade and moving offices, factories and therefore jobs and tax revenues out of the UK.  While many companies are actively preparing for a ‘no deal’ scenario, there are also hundreds of thousands who have yet to start – and cannot be expected to be ready in such a short space of time. All this activity stems from the growing risk of leaving the EU on 29 March without a deal.

“With just 100 days to go, the suggestion that ‘no-deal’ can be ‘managed’ is not a credible proposition. Businesses would face massive new customs costs and tariffs. Disruption at ports could destroy carefully built supply chains. From broadcasters, to insurance brokers, to our financial services – the UK’s world-leading services sector will be needlessly disadvantaged, and many professional qualifications will be unrecognised across the EU. UK and EU nationals working abroad will be left in deep uncertainty about their future.

“As a result of the lack of progress, the Government is understandably now in a place where it must step up no-deal planning, but it is clear there is simply not enough time to prevent severe dislocation and disruption in just 100 days.  This is not where we should be.  The responsibility to find a way forward now rests directly with 650 MPs in Parliament.

“Nobody wants to prolong the uncertainty, but everyone must remember that businesses and communities need time to adapt to future changes. As the UK’s leading business groups, we are asking MPs from all parties to return to their constituencies over Christmas and talk to their local business communities. We hope that they will listen and remember that when they return to Parliament, the future course of our economy will be in their hands.”

Dr Adam Marshall, Director General, British Chambers of Commerce

Carolyn Fairbairn, Director General, Confederation of British Industry

Stephen Phipson CBE, Chief Executive, EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation

Mike Cherry OBE, National Chairman, Federation of Small Businesses

Stephen Martin, Director General, Institute of Directors

ENDS

Brexit declaration: BCC Reaction

Commenting on today’s (22 Nov) announcement that the UK government and EU Commission have agreed a Political Declaration, Dr Adam Marshall, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said:

“While we welcome the fact that more flesh has been put on the bones of the proposed future UK-EU relationship, the reality is that the clarity and precision businesses need to plan for the long term can only be delivered when the details are hammered out and fully agreed. There are still big questions to answer – including whether businesses will be able to conduct trade between the UK and the EU without significant new barriers or costs.

“For business, this is just the end of the beginning of the Brexit process. Our trading firms will be paying close attention to what happens next, particularly as the proposals are debated in Parliament over the days ahead. Businesses remain deeply concerned about the potential for a political stand-off that leads to a messy and disorderly exit from the EU next March.

“We have raised a number of important questions with the Government on behalf of business communities across the UK, and their responses will inform our continuing assessment of the proposed agreement and its implications for business, investment and the wider economy – as captured in our practical Business Brexit Risk Register.”

Help with the EU Settlement Scheme

The Government has issued an updated version of the employer tool-kit that helps EU citizens and their families applying to the EU Settlement Scheme.

The link below will take you to a government web page with link to the tool-kit.  That page also has links to other guidance, including how to communicate the facts of the Settlement Scheme with your employees.

Click here

Other Chamber information in relation to Brexit can be found here.

Budget – Detailed Reactions & Measures Outlined

For detailed information on various aspects of the 2018 Budget, see the links below.

  • Breakdown of measures announced, categorised into subjects – click here
  • British Chambers of Commerce comments on various measures – click here
  • Economic summary of key points and OBR forecast – click here

West & North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce initial reaction is below.

“We know that a significant period of change lies ahead; that’s why the Chamber network this year, in its Budget submission, called for radical measures to enable business to meet the upcoming challenges facing the UK economy. Measures to boost investment, competitiveness and productivity are needed to embolden the UK economy ahead of and throughout the upcoming period surrounding Brexit.

“We welcome measures such as increasing the annual investment allowance, the package to stimulate high streets, including business rate relief, and encouraging SMEs to take on apprentices.  Conversely, economic growth forecasts remain disturbingly weak, so this is a concern.  It can also be argued that the statement lacked the bigger picture measures needed to drive the economy through Brexit, but some would say that’s an unreasonable criticism given the constraints in this area.

“Given our recent reports on local housing needs and employment land, we welcome the additional money for the Housing Infrastructure Fund, aswell as extending the cancellation of stamp duty for first-time buyers.  On the downside, increasing the National Minimum Wage by almost 5% puts pressure on many employers because of the need to maintain differentials within the workforce.  This is at a time when competition, price pressures and general constraints within the business community are quite testing.

“One policy decision we are still awaiting is on devolution.  There is reference in the red book to extending the Transforming Cities Fund but, until our region gets progress on a devolution settlement, we remain disadvantaged.  The Government needs to give our region the policy-making tools and powers it needs to fully contribute to the economy and decision-making.  We therefore look forward to a renewed Northern Powerhouse strategy next year.

“We will scrutinise the red book further to give a more detailed assessment to our members and the likely impact on the business community and economic growth prospects.”

Budget – Chamber Initial Reaction

“We know that a significant period of change lies ahead; that’s why the Chamber network this year, in its Budget submission, called for radical measures to enable business to meet the upcoming challenges facing the UK economy. Measures to boost investment, competitiveness and productivity are needed to embolden the UK economy ahead of and throughout the upcoming period surrounding Brexit.

“We welcome measures such as increasing the annual investment allowance, the package to stimulate high streets, including business rate relief, and encouraging SMEs to take on apprentices.  Conversely, economic growth forecasts remain disturbingly weak, so this is a concern.  It can also be argued that the statement lacked the bigger picture measures needed to drive the economy through Brexit, but some would say that’s an unreasonable criticism given the constraints in this area.

“Given our recent reports on local housing needs and employment land, we welcome the additional money for the Housing Infrastructure Fund, aswell as extending the cancellation of stamp duty for first-time buyers.  On the downside, increasing the National Minimum Wage by almost 5% puts pressure on many employers because of the need to maintain differentials within the workforce.  This is at a time when competition, price pressures and general constraints within the business community are quite testing.

“One policy decision we are still awaiting is on devolution.  There is reference in the red book to extending the Transforming Cities Fund but, until our region gets progress on a devolution settlement, we remain disadvantaged.  The Government needs to give our region the policy-making tools and powers it needs to fully contribute to the economy and decision-making.  We therefore look forward to a renewed Northern Powerhouse strategy next year.

“We will scrutinise the red book further to give a more detailed assessment to our members and the likely impact on the business community and economic growth prospects.”

‘Bradford Live’ scheme hits the right notes at property lunch

The man leading the scheme to bring Bradford’s former Odeon building back into use gave an update to the business community recently.

Lee Craven, who intends to make ‘Bradford Live’ again, addressed a Chamber of Commerce audience in the city, telling them about the planned uses for the site.  The £20 million scheme will be operated by events and venue specialist, the NEC group.  It is expected that the venue will be up-and-running in September 2020, with 225 events and an anticipated 270,000 visitors each year.

The ‘four venues in one’ project – officially titled ‘Bradford Live’ – will reinvigorate Bradford’s nightlife, aswell as broadening its corporate offer and enhancing the city’s profile and image.  The 4,000 maximum capacity venue will include a 400-capacity lounge, a ballroom to accommodate 800, and four other bars.

Opened in 1930 as the New Victoria and renamed the Gaumont 20 years later, it has been closed since 2000.  There were several declarations of interest in the site in the interim period – whether to demolish and rebuild or to retain and protect its original features – but it now seems the current scheme is moving forwards.  A planning application is to be submitted later this year and leading social entrepreneur Lord Andrew Mawson has been announced as patron to the scheme.

Allan Booth, Chair of Bradford Chamber Property Forum (right, in the above photo), said afterwards:

“This scheme and the whole demolition-versus-save-the-Odeon debate has created many news headlines and column inches over the last few years.  It’s taken a lot of time and patience from Lee and others to persevere with his aspiration to bring the building back to life and he is to be applauded for that.  There were many questions from the floor following his presentation to Chamber members – always a good sign of the level of interest in a topic. We look forward to hearing from and supporting the progress of ‘Bradford Live’ – it’s another piece in the Bradford city centre regeneration jigsaw.”

The event took place at the Great Victoria Hotel, and was hosted by Bradford Chamber Property Forum chairman, Allan Booth.  Allan is a Director with Saltaire-based architects Rance Booth Smith.

Lee’s presentation can be found here

 

Budget Submission: Measures to counter Brexit headwinds

Lobbying key decision makers

The British Chambers of Commerce has met with the Chancellor of the Exchequer ahead of the upcoming Autumn Budget.

BCC has proposed action in seven key areas:
• An exceptional ‘Brexit Investment Incentive’ – with the Annual Investment Allowance boosted to £1m to ‘crowd in’ both domestic and international investment – and stem the weakening in business investment in the face of Brexit uncertainty.

• Introduce a Business Rates Investment Incentive – ease the drag effect of this uniquely iniquitous business tax on investment by providing a 12-month delay before rates are increased when an existing property is expanded or improved and also before rates apply to a new build property.

• A commitment to no new taxes or costs on businesses for the remainder of this parliament – giving businesses the headroom to adjust to Brexit and to invest, recruit and grow.

• Deliver real UK-wide reform to the apprenticeship levy and drop SME co-funding for apprenticeships in England – to ensure that the training system works for everyone and eases the UK’s chronic skills shortage.

• Delay the roll-out of Making Tax Digital for all businesses by one year – to provide HMRC and businesses with the headroom to prepare for this major change to the way tax is collected.

• Abandon the uprating of business rates for the next two financial years for all businesses on the high street in town and city centres – to ease the financial burden on struggling businesses as they go through significant structural changes.

• Provide the funding needed to achieve full mobile coverage along transport corridors (road and rail) – a crucial step to improving digital connectivity and productivity for businesses that need to communicate with new and existing customers, suppliers and employees.

If these targeted, affordable measures are delivered it would drive greater investment in people, property, infrastructure and capital, lifting both UK growth and productivity.

A BCC spokesperson said: “The ‘business as usual’ approach which has characterised recent fiscal events is no longer sufficient in the face of a sluggish economy and continued Brexit uncertainty. Therefore, we believe that the focus of the Autumn Budget 2018 must be on radical measures to bolster business investment, competitiveness and productivity in the face of Brexit headwinds – without which business communities across the UK will be ill-equipped to overcome the significant period of change that lies ahead.”

BCC response to PM’s Brexit Statement

The British Chambers of Commerce has responded to the Prime Minister’s statement today (Friday 21 Sep 2018) on the negotiations with the EU on Brexit.  The BCC response is below.

“While the Prime Minister’s determination to reach a deal is appreciated, businesses tell us over and over that the time for posturing from both sides is over.  Businesses across the UK want the negotiators to knuckle down and deliver tangible results that enable them to plan for the future. Firms need clarity, precision, and answers to their real-word, practical questions – and they need them fast. There is no time to lose. People’s livelihoods, major investments in our towns and cities and business confidence are at stake.”

On the possibility of the UK leaving the EU without a negotiated outcome:

“Many firms are hugely worried about a messy and disorderly outcome, and the potential impact on their ability to trade and grow. Others could be caught flat-footed. Both sides must make every effort to avoid this scenario.”

On EU citizens working in UK businesses:

“Businesses feel a strong sense of responsibility to their EU employees. We welcome the Prime Minister’s clear commitment to guaranteeing the rights of EU citizens currently in the UK, regardless of the outcome of negotiations. This must be translated into clear, precise guidance as soon as possible to give people the security they need.”

Theresa May has called on the EU to show more respect in the negotiations, and for it to present a credible alternative to her Chequers Plan.