'Listening to Business' Event and A417 Missing Link - Business Update from Ian Mean, Vice Chair of GFirst LEP

By Ian Mean, Business West Gloucestershire Director and Vice Chair of GFirst LEP.

Business is well aware of the chill wind of recession blowing in its direction so we must re-double our efforts to all work together to support the Gloucestershire economy.

That’s why Business West, Cotswold District Council and GFirst LEP held a Listening to Business webinar the day after the Chancellor’s financial statement.

What impressed me was the positivity that came out of the event - a determination and belief that the Cotswolds economy had a lot going for it.

The contribution from Cotswolds MP, Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, was an excellent exposition of the Gloucestershire economy and the challenges local business face.

Sir Geoffrey, a chartered surveyor and farmer, has been an MP for over 30 years and his ideas for growth were spot on.

He said: “We need future joined up policy to encourage our businesses to grow, for our schools to provide the skilled workforce we need for our changing economy and the housing and infrastructure to match growth”.

I was also impressed by the energy of Cotswold District Council in rightly targeting the green technology sector to drive jobs-particularly for young people who we need to keep in the county.

Affordable homes for these young people is a clear challenge for the council and it is high on their agenda.

And while the Chancellor’s statement did not give great support to business, we did have some good news from government for the Cotswolds and the whole of Gloucestershire.

That was the announcement that the £500 million A417 Missing Link road scheme has now been formally approved with the final green light due before Christmas.

This will mean that ground clearing will start early in 2023 with construction starting later next year.

It’s not before time. Like Sir Geoffrey, as an editor, I had been campaigning for the scheme for over 20 years.

The transformation of the road will hopefully encourage more companies into the Cotswolds, reduce commuting times and improve the transportation of goods.

If you’d like to help us in strengthening the economy of Gloucestershire, please get in touch, we’d love to hear from you.

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