Ministers lobbied over recession help

PUBLISHED: 08:42 18 March 2009 | UPDATED: 13:21 03 July 2010

BUSINESS leaders from across the region went to the House of Commons yesterday to lobby ministers on how to support the East of England economy during the recession.

BUSINESS leaders from across the region went to the House of Commons yesterday to lobby ministers on how to support the East of England economy during the recession.

Key to the session, which was organised by the East of England Development Agency (Eeda), was a call for parliamentarians to lobby with one voice for the region.

Steve Sharratt, chairman of the East of England CBI, said the big lesson of the recession was for the region to pull together with one voice.

“We have a very fragmented region geographically and there isn't a clear focus as there is in Manchester or Birmingham,” he said. “That means we don't shout as loud as we should and we don't get our share of the pie.”

Representatives from a range of firms including Aviva, National Express East Anglia, Adnams, and Archant, publishers of the Yarmouth Mercury, met with around half of the region's MPs and council officials to make the case for more investment in the region particularly in roads and infrastructure.

Also present were East of England minister Barbara Follett and employment relations minister Pat McFadden.

Richard Ellis, Eeda chairman, said the region's high concentration of small and medium placed firms and research and development specialists, will help mitigate the downturn.

“While the East of England is suffering, everybody was of the same message that we are really well placed to lead the UK out of recession,” he said. “We do need more investment from government particularly in skills and infrastructure, but one message was that we need our politicians to pull together to have a more united lobby for the East of England as a whole.”

Norwich South MP Charles Clarke, who was among those present, said he supported a region wide lobby, and hoped many of the issues raised would be taken up by the new East of England select committee, which is due to meet next week.

But he wanted to see a focus on issues such as the addressing health inequalities and the growth agenda as well.

Addressing the delegates Mr McFadden said: “It is critical that we all work together - government, RDAs, local councils and businesses themselves to help Britain through this.”

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