Winchester businesses receive confident messages from MP
20 Jan 12
This year’s Winchester Parliamentary Briefing, held at The Winchester Hotel, hosted by Hampshire Chamber of Commerce and sponsored by Winchester BID in association with the Hampshire Chronicle, was a confident delivery of the key issues as understood by Steve Brine, MP for Winchester and Chandlers Ford.
“Local issues,” Steve said, “are heard at Westminster.” For him, his mandate was to support the drive for economic viability and sustainability; making legislation work for Winchester; and doing everything he can to support and champion local initiatives that bring a better quality of life for all. “We need to all challenge the computer that says ‘no’”
Steve mentioned specifically Winchester BID which he considered was one of the best in the UK; the debate regarding the street market and his view that there needed to be a joined-up approach to resolving differences for both public and private sector; the need for Hampshire Fair to find a solution with the help of the BID and City Council in respect of the Farmers Market; and Winchester business organisations such as the Chamber to help bring about positive economic change and encourage new business into Winchester. Steve also hoped that a local resolution would be reached regarding developments such as Bushfield Camp; and that Winchester would take a robust approach to fostering relations between lending organisations and business to help stimulate the local economy and new businesses.
Whilst addressing local matters, Steve pledged his strong support for the upgrade of births 201 and 202 at Southampton Docks, a project he said “must go ahead allowing Southampton to receive the largest container ships for fear of losing out not just to Felixstowe but to the continent.” Also, Steve confirmed that local MPs were in unison in supporting Southampton’s case in the fight against Liverpool’s Cruise Terminal.
Steve rounded up his positive address by commenting on the benefits that would soon materialise from the Local Government Finance Bill which would bring about the localisation of business rates, funding and investing in local growth.
Receiving questions from the floor, Steve said he would look into the problem of apprenticeships travel costs; would offer his views to the Chancellor on empty rates but urging local authorities to seek a localised viable set of agreements; and would work to continue breaking through unnecessary red-tape that was costing business millions every year. Steve hoped that the emerging National Planning Policy Framework would provide business with reassurance that the planning system would become more transparent and flexible which in turn would encourage businesses to expand. Steve was pleased to receive the views on a integrated retail model involving shops and internet connectivity; the news of the Council’s new planning guidance for rural business economy; and calling for the city to get behind the University of Winchester. He also mentioned the ‘Green Deal’ which will create a raft of new greener opportunities for business in the way of services and support.
Jimmy Chestnutt, Chief Executive for Hampshire Chamber of Commerce, led the thanks to Steve for championing local business views at the heart of Westminster and said, “there is no doubt that money returning to the local economy will not only receive public support, but is a clear message to business that the business agenda is now central to UK Government policy. There is no doubt also that issues surrounding Southampton Port has a crucial effect to Winchester businesses and therefore thanked Steve for adopting a wider supportive ‘Hampshire’ stance.”
Images by Barry Mann Photography www.barrymannphotography.co.uk