We are only a few weeks away from May 7th, an important date for the whole of Bath and North East Somerset as we elect two Members of Parliament and the whole of the local Council.
I should make it clear that the Initiative and Chamber of Commerce are completely apolitical bodies and support no particular party. Our challenge is to make a case to all politicians for the things that make it more likely that we will see economic growth and the prosperity which will flow to the whole community as a result of it.
That said, it would be remiss of me not to pay a tribute to Don Foster, who will be standing down as MP for Bath. He has been recognised as an outstanding constituency MP, even by those who may not have voted for him, a man who has been seen first and foremost as a tremendous voice for the City and always willing to fight for a just cause. In his last Parliament he has served as a Minister and more lately as his party’s Chief Whip. We can all rest assured he would not have missed a single opportunity to further the cause of Bath when the chance presented itself. His successor has large shoes to fill.
At a local level over the last few years we have worked effectively with both the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives. To be fair to both, they have understood the importance of the economy and a certain amount of progress was made under both ruling groups led by Francine Haeberling and Paul Crossley.
What we are looking for from the next Council is to make greater and even faster strides to maintain our competitive position not only in the West of England, but nationally and internationally.
We have some terrific businesses who need space to grow in the city centre. The sooner we get on with development plans the better, especially around Innovation Quay. I hope there is a big turn out from the electorate so that whichever party is chosen, they have a strong mandate to press the accelerator and provide us with a fresh injection of energy which will deliver the vital elements we need to drive our economy on.