Devolution is a great opportunity for Greater Ipswich

Dave Muller speaking at the Ipswich Vision networking event hosted by the Greater Ipswich Chamber of

Dave Muller speaking at the Ipswich Vision networking event hosted by the Greater Ipswich Chamber of Commerce. - Credit: Archant

Town Topics with Greater Ipswich Chamber of Commerce

Enjoying the sunshine on Ipswich waterfront

Enjoying the sunshine on Ipswich waterfront

The consultation into plans to devolve powers and decision-making from Whitehall closer to communities in Suffolk and Norfolk ended last month.

As the voice of the business community, Suffolk Chamber of Commerce has worked hard to ensure that businesses have both had the chance to understand the proposals and to quiz those pulling together the deal.

With our colleagues in New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership we hosted two packed meetings in Bury St Edmunds and Ipswich. Generally speaking the mood of the businesses present was supportive, but also determined that the prospective Combined Authority – and the issue of the Mayor - should guarantee that the voice of business is heard and represented.

The devolution deal being struck with Government will see £100m for new homes over five years, £225m released for new transport projects and £25m per year over 30 years’ worth of funding targeted upon economic growth and job creation

What is Suffolk Chamber of Commerce in Greater Ipswich’s view on this topic?

We are clear that the principle of devolution is one that we wholeheartedly support.

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More localised decision-making and influence over how public money is spent will mean that the local business community – a diverse and energetic economic base – will have more of a say as to what is right for business than we frequently do in dealing with large and remote Whitehall departments.

We also support these specific proposals. They are a gigantic step forward with their focus on housing and infrastructure growth. They are right in themselves and, I believe, as a basis upon which our county can – and should - receive further devolved powers and responsibilities.

But what about the future – assuming that this deal gets the final go-ahead?

For these devolution proposals to truly deliver what they promise for our economic prosperity, Suffolk Chamber in Greater Ipswich believes that the voice of business must be at the heart of all future decision-making.

It is vital that Suffolk Chamber in Greater Ipswich, our members and the wider business community across both counties are able to directly influence the details as to how these devolution opportunities are delivered.

I look forward to us shaping both the specifications for the role of Mayor and for the Combined Authority. We need the focus of both functions to be upon creating the conditions that facilitate and do not hinder our dynamic and entrepreneurial businesses as they look to grow, create jobs and create wealth for all.

And we need people of the right calibre and with the necessary pro-business credentials to fill them.

And once these devolution structures are established, our job and our opportunity does not stop there.

Business must be at the front, back and centre of all decisions taken by the Mayor and the combined authority.

Suffolk Chamber in Greater Ipswich will be on the front line in ensuring that the voice of local business is heard loudly and clearly within this devolved future – and not just as an optional extra, but as its guiding principle.

Dave Muller