Energetic parliamentarians provide business leaders with food for thought

By Scunthorpe Telegraph | Posted: 6 Nov 2017

Renewable energy, rail connectivity to London, the skills agenda, fish processing prospects, devolution and Brexit were all topics discussed in a lively debate between MPs and business leaders.

Northern Lincolnshire representatives Martin Vickers, Nic Dakin and Melanie Onn were joined by Baroness Liz Redfern at a lunch hosted by Hull & Humber Chamber of Commerce.

Chaired by Chamber president Phil Ascough, the discussions included revisiting the prospects of an East Coast motorway and the dualling of the A15 up to the Humber Bridge as a long-term ambition for the region.

Held at Winteringham Fields, leading business figures from Phillips 66, ABP, British Steel, Humberside Airport, Seachill UK, Clugston and Wilkin Chapman were among those who discussed the key current business issues.

Cleethorpes' Martin Vickers gave Chamber leaders an update on his efforts to get direct train services from Cleethorpes to London reinstated, and highlighted the various challenges and complications that need to be overcome. Improved trans-Pennine links were also discussed to ensure the Humber as a whole can maximise its role in the Northern Powerhouse.

READ MORE: Brexit exemption sought for town’s seafood trade

The skills agenda and the issues around migrant labour shortages, the affects of Brexit and attracting suitably qualified people to the area for more technical jobs were discussed at length. Several business leaders highlighted the perception that many jobs in Lincolnshire are low paid, but noted that several, like the refineries provide highly-paid jobs for many hundreds of people, and they also had sizeable supply chains locally. The fish processing industry leaders were concerned at seeing a drop in foreign workers, but Mr Vickers noted that the Government had made clear it had no wish to hinder foreign workers into the local food processing and agricultural sector.

Scunthorpe MP Nic Dakin said that access to the single market, the Customs Union and frictionless trade were of key importance, while Grimsby's Melanie Onn’s view was that Brexit was stagnating everything and we were now “stuck in a quagmire of issues that should never have been brought forward”.

The failure of the Greater Lincolnshire Devolution was discussed, as was the clear view on the Conservative side that the “One Yorkshire” model had no support in Government and that actually the current status quo worked effectively in the Humber for both the Northern Powerhouse and Transport for the North recognising both sides of the Humber as a “functional economic unit” which they were keen to work with.

READ MORE: Humber 'truly at the heart of UK's offshore wind industry'

Chamber chief executive Dr Ian Kelly said: “Our Parliamentarians were in energetic and lively mood, as we discussed the Energy Estuary, renewables, prospects, devolution and Brexit in particular. Most importantly though, despite various party differences, they continue to work closely with us in business for the benefit of northern Lincolnshire and the Humber”.

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