Norfolk Chamber of Commerce boss issues investment warning after EU vote

Caroline Williams, CEO of Norfolk Chamber of Commerce ANL-160121-140045001

Caroline Williams, CEO of Norfolk Chamber of Commerce ANL-160121-140045001

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Companies in West Norfolk are putting off big investment decisions in the wake of Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, business leaders say.

But officials from the county’s Chamber of Commerce have stressed that firms are still trading as normal, despite the financial shockwaves created by the Brexit vote.

The victory for the Leave campaign in last Thursday’s poll sparked turbulence on the financial markets, with the pound falling to a 31-year low against the US dollar.

And, this week, chancellor George Osborne, who backed the Remain campaign, warned of the prospect of tax rises and public spending cuts following the decision.

But Norfolk Chamber chief executive Caroline Williams said the economic impact of Brexit here had been limited so far.

She said: “Our members are reporting on one hand it is business as usual but are also admitting that they have put on hold, where possible, any immediate investment decisions.

“Many West Norfolk businesses are within national supply chains and so will need to wait until the markets have settled to really understand the effect this will have in the short and medium term.

“Although sterling has dropped, Brexit has caused global economic repercussions, so many markets are currently flat.

“National decisions relating to major investments needs to be confirmed as soon as possible.”

One of Lynn’s biggest employers, the German-owned Palm Paper at Saddlebow, this week declined to comment on whether the result would impact on their business.

However, the company is expected to issue an update on its trade later this month.

Meanwhile, Ms Williams has also urged company bosses to be vigilant over signs of tension between staff who were on opposing sides of the debate.

She said: “Within some organisations there is friction between the Leave and Remain voters.

“All businesses need to ensure that their staff understand the risk of what can be seen as racist comments on social media.

“Businesses need to check that they have the correct policies in place in case of formal complaints.”