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.

Survey shows stalling economy

The Beating Heart of the Economy

The British Chambers of Commerce’s quarterly economic survey finds that the UK economy ended 2018 stuck in a weak holding pattern, with stagnating levels of growth and business confidence as a result of heightened Brexit uncertainty and other economic pressures.

Key findings:

  • Percentage of services firms reporting an increase in domestic sales and orders drops to two-year low
  • Recruitment difficulties in manufacturing joint highest on record, services sector recruitment difficulties hover near record-high
  • Price pressures rise further for businesses, particularly manufacturers

The results underline the impact that the current levels of uncertainty are having on a stalling economy as growth in domestic sales and orders reduced, recruitment difficulties stand near record highs and price pressures persist.  In services, the percentage of firms reporting an increase in domestic sales and orders weakened to its lowest in two years. Domestic activity among UK manufacturers also moderated.

The findings highlight the extent to which labour shortages have risen in the UK as four-fifths (81%) of manufacturers that tried to recruit report difficulties in finding the right staff – the joint highest level since the survey began in 1989. In services, the level (70%) hovers close to the record high recorded in the previous quarter (72%).

The survey results indicate an increase in price pressures facing firms. The percentage of manufacturers expecting to raise prices is at its highest in a year and is almost three times higher than its pre-EU referendum average. Cashflow continues to be a concern for both sectors, with the balance of firms reporting improved cash flow remaining weak.

Suren Thiru, Head of Economics at BCC, said:

“Domestic activity in services weakened for the second successive quarter, with consumer-facing firms particularly downbeat amid subdued household spending levels and tightening cash-flow. Manufacturing had an underwhelming three months, with significant cost pressures and moderating global demand weighing heavy.

“With results showing that price pressures from wage settlements remain relatively muted, there continues to be sufficient scope to keep interest rates on hold in 2019, particularly given the significant economic and political turbulence.”

Responding to the results, Dr Adam Marshall, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce, said:

“Throughout much of 2018, UK businesses were subjected to a barrage of political noise and drama, so it’s no surprise to see muted domestic demand and investment. With little clarity on the trading conditions they’ll face in two months’ time, companies are understandably holding back on spending and making big decisions about their futures. Given the magnitude of the recruitment difficulties, business concerns about the government’s recent blueprint for future immigration rules must be taken seriously – and companies must be able to access skills at all levels without heavy costs or bureaucracy.”

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