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East Midlands Chamber News

Businesses meet local MP

Chamber-member Surescreen Scientific hosted an informal business briefing with mid-Derbyshire MP Pauline Latham (Conservative) on Friday, at its Morley Retreat offices.

These meetings give firms a chance to raise with elected Members any concerns they have around day-to-day operating issues affecting them, particularly at the moment when Westminster’s preoccupation is focused on the impasse surrounding Brexit.


On Brexit, those present expressed deep dismay at the lack of progress, clarity and leadership. Firms reported that hard-working Eastern European workers are going home, leaving vacancies in both agriculture and the care sector that are becoming increasingly difficult to fill.


Businesses told Pauline about their frustration with the education system, in that schools/colleges aren’t measured on employment outcomes and prefer to focus on Ofsted requirements.


As a result, they tend not to be receptive to approaches from industry and show little interest in areas such as engineering and construction. It was felt that teachers have little experience of industry and that more effort needs to go into encouraging apprenticeships.


The perennial issue of under-investment in infrastructure for this region was raised, along with concerns that there doesn’t seem to be a strategic plan to join-up efforts.


Indeed, the three cities of Derby, Nottingham and Leicester are perceived to be rivals rather than partners that would add combined value to schemes that are prepped and ‘ready to go’ as soon as the funding becomes available.


There were also calls for more support for early-stage SMEs, guidance for entrepreneurs towards affordable means of finance and innovation funds to be made available.


Pauline drew attention to her participation in getting Derbyshire recognised as a ‘County of Culture’, which would bring countywide benefits and a distinct boost to the arts and culture industry.