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East Midlands Chamber News

Nottingham East business briefing with Chris Leslie MP at Experian

Experian – a DNCC patron – hosted the meeting; they are specialists in credit risk information, and are involved in schemes such as Entrepreneur First.

This meeting with Chris Leslie MP, Shadow Finance Secretary, allowed Chamber-members to informally raise any issues affecting their operating conditions for MP or Chamber intervention.

Although the Chamber’s latest Q2 Quarterly Economic Survey indicates a marked increase in business confidence, the mood around the table was one of cautious optimism.

Members continue to have misgivings about the prevailing sense of uncertainty that inhibits them from drawing on their reserves to invest, expand and recruit to their full potential.

Continuing concerns over eurozone uncertainty and planning delays are key inhibitors; businesses want to invest now but are mindful that conditions are prone to change come the 2015 election and require greater reassurance about the road ahead before committing cash.

It was also felt that the European referendum issue deters would-be inward investors and that renegotiation of the UK’s place within the EU needs to happen sooner rather than later.

An increase in business confidence would see more long-term planning and investment which, in turn, leads to staff retention and the harnessing of the existing skills base.

Third sector organisations, in particular, find it increasingly difficult to predict where sources of funding are likely to come from, as confidence is still in short-supply as the economy slowly emerges from a prolonged recession.

However, it was reported that there were fewer cases of insolvency and that some organisations had actually diversified their operations and benefited from the prevailing economic climate through the outsourcing of work from the public sector. Many firms had had to become more entrepreneurial in order to thrive.

Growth remains slow, and it was felt that London-centric politicians and civil servants alike have a blighted view of the North and need to recognise the potential of the East Midlands as an economic powerhouse with world-class universities and aspirational businesses that can drive the recovery.

These attitudes make Local Enterprise Partnership D2N2’s task of unlocking more funds for the region even harder.

More audacious bids were called for and businesses should collaborate, work in partnership, not only for their own benefit but also because they can ‘hunt much better as a pack’ when it comes to calling for infrastructure projects to be championed by regional MPs making the same calls in unison.

However, it was also noted that the region had done particularly well of late, with positive announcements on key priorities such as HS2, M1 widening, the A453 and electrification of the Midland Mainline.

The Greater Nottingham Partnership is keen to see that HS2 is efficiently connected to the city and elsewhere, as slow branch lines to the proposed Toton station could negate any time-savings if not sufficiently thought through. These connectivity issues equally apply further afield along the A52 to Grantham and the ports.

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