Urban Living – Where Is It Going?

The last ten years or so has seen the proliferation of residential conversions in Bradford and the District’s town centres.  Not all of them have been successful.  And yet…there is the potential to meet some of Bradford’s housing shortage, assist local businesses operating in this sector, and boost local economic growth.

So, where has it been successful?  Where has it not worked?  Why not?  Who are the likely future investors in this area?  What are the emerging trends?  How can we learn from previous mistakes?

These questions and more will be tackled at the next BPF meeting – details below.

When:  8 – 9.30am, Tuesday 18 July 2017

Where:  Bradford City Football Club

What:  Urban Living – How to Make it Work

Who:

  • Haseeb & Naveed Mir, Locate Properties – conversions and case studies
  • Amir Hussain, Yeme Architects (and property-owner) – turning a challenge into an opportunity
  • Dave West, Little Germany Action – city living as an experience

 

Parking: Available on-site

Booking: events@wnychamber.co.uk  (put ’18/7′ in subject header) / 01274 206660

Price: £15 members; £30 non-members

Pragmatism called for in Brexit negotiations

The British Chambers of Commerce has requested from government that business and economic issues feature prominently in Brexit negotiations.

Adam Marshall, Director General, said:

“As Brexit talks commence, UK firms want practical economic issues to be at the heart of the negotiations. Business wants an atmosphere of pragmatism, civility and mutual respect to characterise this complex process.

“Over the coming weeks and months, the UK government must demonstrate how it is working to address the everyday considerations of British companies in the talks – who can they hire, whether their goods will be stopped at borders, and whether they will have to cope with extra costs.

“Parties on both sides should begin the negotiations by seeking to guarantee the rights of EU citizens already in the UK, and UK citizens in the EU-27.  Swift agreement on citizens’ rights would remove a highly emotive and politicised issue from the complex road ahead, while at the same time ending a year-long source of uncertainty for individuals, communities and employers alike.

“It’s important to remember that negotiations on some of the most crucial business issues, such as the nature of the future UK-EU trading relationship, won’t begin straight away. We will continue to campaign for the priorities and concerns of business communities across the UK as negotiations continue – and ensure that their practical priorities are front and centre.”

Prior to the commencement of the negotiations, BCC, in a joint statement with other business support organisations, set out how it would like to see the negotiations concluded.  The statement included the following principles:

ECONOMIC PRINCIPLES FOR A FINAL AGREEMENT BETWEEN THE UK AND THE EU27

  • Tariff-free goods trade between the United Kingdom and the European Union
  • Minimal customs formalities at the land, sea and air borders between the United Kingdom and the European Union
  • Regulatory equivalence and mutual recognition of standards on an ongoing basis to ensure continued mutual access for both goods and services
  • A flexible system for the movement of labour and skills between the United Kingdom and the European Union, that enjoys public support
  • On-going UK participation in those pan-European programmes, initiatives and agencies which add real economic value to communities, businesses, young people and universities
  • Protection of the benefits of free trade agreements currently delivered through the European Union.

Pledge to catch the bus this clean air day

Buses are key to tackling congestion and reducing emissions: a fully-loaded double decker bus can take 75 cars off the road

Yorkshire bus operators First West Yorkshire, Arriva Yorkshire and Transdev are aiming to clear the air across the White Rose County today (Thursday, 15 June 2017) by inviting motorists to promise to leave the car at home for the day – in a bid to improve the city’s air pollution.

The UK’s first ever National Clean Air Day has been launched to encourage people all over the country, including Leeds, to do their bit to tackle air pollution by learning more about its causes and by taking action to make the air that we breathe cleaner and healthier for everyone.

First West Yorkshire, Arriva Yorkshire and Transdev have come together under the Bus 18 partnership to encourage Leeds travellers to pledge to catch the bus. In fact, a fully-loaded double decker can take 75 cars off the road – helping to reduce congestion and improve air quality.

First West Yorkshire Managing Director, Paul Matthews said: “As one of the major operators in West Yorkshire we have a responsibility to reduce emissions on our roads, which is why, as part of the Bus 18 Partnership, we have pledged to introduce more environmentally friendly buses with less emissions to improve air quality by the end of next year, which forms part of a £71m investment that we are making in Leeds.

“Attracting more people to get out of their cars and use public transport, will help to reduce emissions on the roads, but some people still believe that buses are bad for the environment, when in fact a bus with an average double decker bus produces less pollutants per passenger than a full car. The latest vehicles that have been added to our fleet, including the buses used for the popular X84 service, are fitted with Euro 6 engines, which are the eco-friendliest buses that we can operate, right now.

“I’d like to encourage all car users across the region to travel by bus this National Clean Air Day, as together we can help to reduce the pollution in our cities and improve air quality for the future.”

Arriva Yorkshire Area Managing Director, Jon Croxford said: “Buses play a key role in efforts to improve air quality by reducing the overall number of vehicles on the road. Research by Greener Journeys has shown that without buses, congestion in city centres would be a fifth (21%) higher at peak times, significantly impacting air quality

“Encouraging more people out of their cars and onto public transport is therefore vital to tackling this problem, and is part of our commitment to creating healthier, less congested and less polluted cities today and for future generations.

“Arriva Yorkshire, along with other Bus 18 members continues to invest to ensure our buses are as green as possible, maximising environmental benefits for passengers. For example, Arriva Yorkshire will be launching 37 brand new, more environmentally friendly buses which will go into service in West Yorkshire from the 26th June, as part of an £8m investment.

Transdev CEO Alex Hornby said: “There is no better time than now to take the pledge to leave the car at home for the day and try the bus – and those who haven’t been on board for a while will be amazed by how much we have done to create buses that people want to be seen on.

“In the last 18 months we’ve ploughed millions of pounds in new buses across Yorkshire – most recently with a £2.34 million investment in 10 all new twin-deck buses for the popular Coastliner service linking Leeds and York with the Yorkshire Coast – each powered by low emission ‘Euro 6’ engines which are eight times cleaner and greener than the previous best Euro 5 standard.

“Just one of our double deck buses can take up to 75 cars off the road tomorrow. I hope Yorkshire motorists will hang up their car keys for the day and give our buses a try, to see for themselves how bus travel is now the low stress, high value way to clear the air across our wonderful county.”

There are many reasons to try the bus in Yorkshire for Clean Air Day. Here are just six:

  • The newest vehicles are powered by Euro 6 engines which offer 95% to 99% reductions in the most harmful pollutants, such as Nitrogen Oxides (NOx) and Particulate Matter (PM) compared with the Euro 2 and Euro 3 powered buses they’ve replaced.
  • As part of the Bus 18 partnership, operators in West Yorkshire have signed up to have their buses rated through the ECOStars scheme, which gives each bus a one to five star rating to show passengers how efficient the bus is. The higher the star rating, the greener the bus!
  • If drivers across the UK switched just one car journey a month to the bus instead, it would mean one billion fewer car journeys and a saving of two million tonnes of CO2.
  • Buses can make town and city life better for everyone – nine out of 10 people say road traffic affects their quality of life.
  • Traffic congestion costs British businesses at least £11 billion a year in GDP – and the bill is forecast to reach £30 billion by 2030.
  • Low emission buses already on UK roads are already saving 55,000 tonnes of GHG emissions per year and delivering £8 million worth of health and environmental benefits – with more to come.

BCC reaction to General Election result

Commenting on the General Election result, Dr Adam Marshall, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said:

“After two long years of elections, referenda and wider uncertainty, many businesses were doing their best to ignore the noise of politics – up until today.

“The electorate’s split decision generates further uncertainty for business communities, who are already grappling with currency fluctuations, rising costs, and the potential impacts of Brexit.

“The formation of a workable administration that can give voters and businesses confidence around economic management must be the immediate priority.

“Whilst companies have for many months done their best to screen out political noise in order to focus on their own operations, this result will prove much harder for UK businesses to ignore. The swift formation of a functioning government is essential to business confidence and our wider economic prospects.

“Businesses are adept at forming alliances and coalitions when important interests are at stake. We should expect the same of our politicians.”

On the timetable for Brexit negotiations, which are scheduled to begin in less than a fortnight, Dr Marshall said:

“No business would walk into a negotiation without clear objectives, an agreed starting position, and a strong negotiating team. It is hard to see how Brexit negotiations could begin without answers on these important questions.”

BCC – Election result a source of further uncertainty for business

Commenting on the General Election, Dr Adam Marshall, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said:

“The UK electorate has today accomplished the unlikely feat of piling more uncertainty on business communities already grappling with currency fluctuations, high up-front costs, and the Brexit process.

“The formation of a stable administration that can give voters and businesses confidence around both economic management and Brexit negotiations must be the absolute top priority.

“Companies have for many months been doing their best to ignore the ‘noise’ generated by politics in order to focus on their own operations. This result will prove much harder for many businesses to ignore – making the swift formation of a credible government essential to our economic prospects.”

BCC reaction to General Election result

Commenting on the General Election result, Dr Adam Marshall, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said:

“After two long years of elections, referenda and wider uncertainty, many businesses were doing their best to ignore the noise of politics – up until today.

“The electorate’s split decision generates further uncertainty for business communities, who are already grappling with currency fluctuations, rising costs, and the potential impacts of Brexit.

“The formation of a workable administration that can give voters and businesses confidence around economic management must be the immediate priority.

“Whilst companies have for many months done their best to screen out political noise in order to focus on their own operations, this result will prove much harder for UK businesses to ignore. The swift formation of a functioning government is essential to business confidence and our wider economic prospects.

“Businesses are adept at forming alliances and coalitions when important interests are at stake. We should expect the same of our politicians.”

On the timetable for Brexit negotiations, which are scheduled to begin in less than a fortnight, Dr Marshall said:

“No business would walk into a negotiation without clear objectives, an agreed starting position, and a strong negotiating team. It is hard to see how Brexit negotiations could begin without answers on these important questions.”

Populist promises and their business impact: Adam Marshall, BCC

I was in Cornwall last week, a place as far away, both geographically and psychologically, from the Westminster bubble and the group-think of corporate multinationals as one can get in England.

Yet, talking to members of this vibrant and close-knit business community, it swiftly became clear that they didn’t feel national politicians were listening to their needs – particularly when it came to getting the people they need to make their businesses, and their county, great.bbcadam

The rocket scientist in need of specialist engineers that are sought after all around the world.

The firm of local solicitors who wear their local commitment and employee ownership with pride, who need new recruits to power their continued growth.

The tourist attraction that lost highly-regarded European catering employees who didn’t feel welcome after the referendum vote – which despite its reputation as a great local employer is struggling to find replacements because of a shortage of candidates in their community.

The renewable energy firms keen to transform Cornwall into a test-bed for the innovative and new technologies to power the UK’s future, who work closely with local colleges, yet still need more talent and clearer government policies to make those breakthroughs happen.

These sorts of businesses — all of whom place local employment and a strong local economy at the heart of their thinking —  were sceptical about what they are hearing in this election campaign.  And they’re not alone.

We are asked, all over the United Kingdom, how politicians of all colours can put forward policies that have serious consequences for the growth prospects of rank-and-file businesses. Some even ask whether the major parties understand the growth needs of their local economies at all.

Voting in a UK Election. Coloured Rosettes for the principal UK political parties
Voting in a UK Election. Coloured Rosettes for the principal UK political parties

The Conservatives’ plans to limit migration, increase the charges businesses face for employing non-EU talent when they struggle to recruit, and to create new employment regulations dictating their relationship with employees are seen with the same apprehension as Labour’s ideas for sweeping nationalisation, higher taxes, and deep market intervention.   By and large, these businesses are not international PLCs seeking to protect their comparative advantage. Nor are they amongst the tiny number of firms that hit the headlines for their unseemly and unwelcome ‘low-pay, low-care’ business culture.

Instead, they are part of the huge majority of civic-minded businesses — who increasingly feel that their prospects are hindered by a Westminster that neither understands nor cares for them.  They’re the firms who have always worked to take on apprentices, who put training at the heart of their growth plans, who invest for the long term, and who make deep and abiding contributions in their local communities.  There are elements in each of the major parties’ election manifestos that gives them cause for concern about future recruitment and growth.

FarronMayCorbyn

The prospect of higher up-front business costs, more government intervention and perceived indifference toward enterprise and wealth creation would have a chilling effect on these firms – and at precisely the wrong time. The animal spirits of Britain’s ‘civic businesses’ require a boost, not a knock, in order to play a strong role in navigating the Brexit transition and laying the groundwork for our future success.  Yet instead of being encouraged and incentivised to look at new models of growth, many feel they are being unfairly rapped over the knuckles by politicians, most of whom have never had to walk a mile in an entrepreneur’s shoes.

Policies get announced, politicians move on, but the unintended consequences of their actions linger for the businesses who pay the inevitable financial or compliance costs for decades to come.  Governments in other countries, too, will be watching with interest – and will ramp up their lobbying efforts to attract UK-based firms, if they sense an opportunity. Our politicians must reflect on the impacts of some of their election-season promises on the business environment, and work to mitigate these – or expect to see more firms talking openly about whether further expansion here in the UK is an option for them.

It’s time for an end to the chastising of business, and an end to the competition for eye-catching policies in areas like immigration that have negative impacts on business confidence and future jobs and investment.  It’s time to listen more to the real-world, practical barriers to hiring and growth that are being raised by the committed, hard-working firms we see in cities and counties all across the UK. The optimism and commitment of the Cornish firms that so inspired me – and hundreds of thousands more besides – is very much at stake.

Dr Adam Marshall is Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce (www.britishchambers.org.uk)

This opinion piece first appeared on Friday 2 June 2017 on The Times Red Box.