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Improving infrastructure is key for the development of region

PUBLISHED: 08:00 10 November 2016

Catherine Johnson,   Ipswich Chamber of Commerce  (LOW RES)

Catherine Johnson, Ipswich Chamber of Commerce (LOW RES)

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Town Topics with Greater Ipswich Chamber of Commerce

Firstly, I wanted to take the opportunity in my first Chamber column of thanking Dave Muller, my predecessor as chair of Suffolk chamber of Commerce in Greater Ipswich.

From our launch five years ago, Dave has been a hands-on visionary of this Chamber and has effectively guided us to our current position of strength and influence. Thank you, Dave.

Suffolk Chamber of Commerce is one of 52 accredited chambers affiliated to the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC). The BCC is focussed on influencing Government and other policy makers to be as supportive and understanding of businesses as possible. It has a proud track record of very successful lobbying.

In turn, our town representation in Greater Ipswich is a key part of the Suffolk Chamber.

That means that our members here in the town have a direct influence in shaping the conditions in which businesses can grow, attract investment, deliver jobs and boost skills.

You wouldn’t be surprised, therefore, to learn that the BCC is setting the agenda for the forthcoming Autumn Statement scheduled for 23rd November. The Autumn Statement focuses on economic growth and public sector finances as projected by the Office of Budget Responsibility.

The BCC has outlined a platform of seven ‘asks’ from Government:

· A pledge to introduce no new input taxes or other significant costs on businesses for the remainder of this Parliament

· Further fundamental reform of business rates

· Temporary widening of the Annual Investment Allowance

· Improving the implementation of the Apprenticeship Levy

· Direct investment in ‘quick-start’ infrastructure projects such as housing and broadband

· Increased resources to directly support SME export

· Creation of an indirect tax road map

Each one of these will help give businesses greater certainty about the future and the incentives to invest in new capitals, staff and skills.

In addition, Suffolk Chamber is using its excellent relationships with Suffolk’s MPs and Government ministers from outside the county (we hosted an excellent event at the start of this month with David Gauke MP, Chief Secretary to the Treasury) to put the specific case for Suffolk businesses.

In particular, we are pressing for Government commitments on a number of much needed capital projects in and around Suffolk.

We are looking for sufficient financial allocation being committed now to Highways England under RIS2 budgets to support our priorities for the A11, A120, A12 and A14.

We’d like to see the continuation and extension of the Local Majors Fund to support significant investments (including studies) in roads infrastructure that are ‘beyond’ Highways England and local authority budgets such as the A1307 and the A12 north of Ipswich.

We are also pressing for increased funding for investment in our rail network in Control Periods Six and Seven and beyond to guarantee support for key rail infrastructure projects such as Ely and Haughley Junctions, thereby optimising the improvements outlined in the new East Anglia rail franchise recently awarded to Greater Anglia.

In short your Chamber is, at all levels, urging the Government to give us the tools to allow business do what it does best: creating the wealth that powers a cohesive and confident society.

Give us a little more certainty. Give us an infrastructure fit for twenty first century business. We will do the rest!

Catherine Johnson, chair

Greater Ipswich Chamber of Commerce

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