Devolution means business – groups back North Midlands deal
More business leaders have given their backing to a devolution deal for Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire.
The Nottinghamshire Business Engagement Group (NBEG) and Mansfield 2020 are the latest organisations to throw their weight behind the deal and the investment, up-skilled workforce, jobs and infrastructure improvements it would bring to the two counties.
NBEG is an umbrella organisation which represents most of the 26,000 small and micro businesses in Nottinghamshire. Its membership includes representatives of the Federation of Small Businesses, the Chamber of Commerce, Institute of Directors, Confederation of British Industry and local groups such as Newark Business Club, North Nottinghamshire Connections and Rushcliffe Business Partnership.
Trevor Fletcher, Chair of NBEG has written to Chancellor George Osborne to pledge the group’s support for the North Midlands Devolution deal and urge a resolution to the on-going talks "as soon as is practically possible".
In the letter, Mr Fletcher says: “Nottinghamshire businesses would welcome such a deal, bringing investment, enhanced skills, jobs and infrastructure improvements to the area.
“Micro and small businesses now make up some 97% of Nottinghamshire’s business base and we can see the huge value in devolved resources and devolved responsibilities for the economic benefit of the wider North Midlands area.
“I and my fellow NBEG representatives are championing the devolution submission and I would welcome your confirmation that a positive outcome can be expected very shortly.”
Meanwhile, Mansfield 2020 – which has a membership of more than 170 businesses from across Ashfield and Mansfield – is also imploring the Chancellor to agree the North Midlands Devolution deal.
Chairman, Russell Jones has also written to the Chancellor, saying: “The economic levers will help us drive growth and jobs. Local business needs will be the focus, rather than national targets and controlled decision making will speed up all processes and help drive growth.
“We add our voice to other Business Groups in the area and would welcome a positive outcome as soon as possible, to give us the impetus to move forward.”
The 19 City, County and District councils covering Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire, together with business leaders from the D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership which covers the two counties, are seeking to create a single Combined Authority for the region by March 2016 – the first of its kind featuring district, borough, city and county councils.
The Combined Authority and a new 'Metro Mayor', elected by the people of Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire, would be granted powers and resources currently held in London and gain responsibility for delivering a raft of new measures to boost economic growth, create jobs, build new homes and improve the quality of life for people living in the area.
These new powers and responsibilities would be provided in support of, but separately to the services currently provided by the Councils, which would continue as at present.
Councillor Alan Rhodes, Leader of Nottinghamshire County Council, said: "The North Midlands Devolution deal is absolutely vital to the future economic prosperity of Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire.
"The deal can deliver the prosperous, higher-wage economy that we crave, where businesses can grow and working people can get on and enjoy a better standard of living.
"I am delighted that more and more businesses and business leaders are studying the draft deal and letting the Chancellor know about the huge benefits it can bring to our communities."
The North Midlands Devolution deal sets out ten key benefits devolution would deliver for the residents and businesses of Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire:
- 55,000 new private sector jobs
- 77,000 extra homes
- An Investment Fund over 30 years to provide infrastructure such as roads and bridges
- Adult skills provision that better meets the needs of businesses
- A joint transport fund to spend on key transport improvements
- A better co-ordinated public transport system with ‘Oyster’ style smart ticketing
- More responsive and co-ordinated business support for growth
- The creation of substantially more apprenticeship opportunities
- More people entering employment through better targeted local programmes
- Journey times to London of less than 90 minutes by train