MPs Question Time
We keep up a continual constructive conversation with Councillors and Officers in our local authority, which is vital for the good of the local economy, but we also have regular meetings with the two MPs who represent Bath and North East Somerset in Parliament. We are completely independent of party politics and whilst there are significant political differences between our MPs, we know both are eager to hear from the business community and enthusiastic about doing what they can to support the local economy in the corridors of power.
Some of the issues raised during our recent meetings, for example planning, are outside their direct responsibility, but once they understand what business is saying they can communicate that to the local authority and what they have to say is certain to be considered carefully. So, they can influence things even when they don’t have the power to make decisions.
One specific topic raised was the problem of a lack of resource in council planning departments which slows down the whole process. One of our members highlighted Wiltshire as being in particular need of help. Wera Hobhouse was very concerned to hear about this and she asked for us to draft a letter which she would be able to pass on to the Government department concerned. This is a great example of how sensible direct conversations with our Parliamentarians can have positive results.
We obviously raised with Jacob Rees-Mogg his well publicised campaign to get Civil Servants back into the office and asked whether he thought the private sector should be saying something similar. He said that it was right for individual businesses to work in whatever way suited them best but he explained he had become concerned about poor performing areas of Government, such as the DVLA and Passport Offices which coincided with high numbers of people working from home, which he felt was linked.
Our two conversations covered a huge range of topics, allowing members to have their say and getting an understanding on where Wera and Jacob stood. Both MPs said they found it very useful to hear specific examples of obstacles to business success and they will both do their best to remove them.
They will certainly have their work cut out as we covered a broad waterfront including topics such as banking regulation, food security, the social value element in bidding for Government contracts, Ukraine, the cost of living, how much office space will we need in the future, net zero, levelling up, the West of England Combined Authority, regional devolution and skills shortages.
Our members are pleased to have had their say and Wera and Jacob are better informed about local concerns which they can raise in Parliament in the months to come.
If you’d like to find out more about the Bath Chamber of Commerce or the Initiative in B&NES please contact us on 01225 460 655 or firstname.lastname@example.org.