So the nation has spoken. What people said to pollsters before they voted or how the analysts interpreted what they said seemed to cause quite a lot of confusion!
The Norfolk Chamber’s manifesto was clear from way before the counting of votes started. It’s a business plan for Norfolk and it has four major issues. It wasn’t going to, and hasn’t, changed whoever won.
Firstly, (no surprise here), we must have our infrastructure high on the agenda. There has been progress, but our road and rail connections must be consistently reviewed and improved. We have much to offer the country’s economy, but we must be accessible.
Secondly, because commerce can’t function without ‘virtual’ communication, our mobile and broadband needs must be urgently addressed. Our financial, manufacturing and digital businesses depend on it. It’s vital to the rural areas. It’s the future.
And the future of our economy is in the hands of our young people. Investment in the young is a key requirement for West Norfolk. Education, apprenticeships and support must be made available to sustain growth. The ‘Skills Gap’ is a phrase bandied around by politicians so often that I sometimes fear it’s become as clichéd and indefinable as The Bermuda Triangle. But it’s a very real problem, and unless it’s tackled with zeal some of our commercial potential might disappear as if it was in that mysterious area of sea.
It’s over the seas where our fourth point lies. We need additional support, investment and encouragement for exporting. Selling our products and services abroad is vital to the economic growth of our region; input from government to assist in opening and developing new markets and recognising the support needed by small and medium businesses is something the new cabinet must address.
I believe in West Norfolk’s businesses. And I believe that if we’re to do what we’re capable of we need the appropriate support, finance and resources. That’s why the Chamber’s manifesto is more like a business plan.
We have a government now. The Norfolk Chamber will be ensuring the voice of business is heard on behalf West Norfolk.