STRATFORD is in a prime position for strong economic growth – but the opportunity must be matched by investment in infrastructure and skills, a business meeting has heard.
The Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce’s South Warwickshire Branch met at Billesley Manor Hotel and Spa and heard from Coun George Cowcher, who holds the planning and economic development portfolio at Stratford District Council.
It was Coun Cowcher’s second meeting with the Chamber since the Liberal Democrats took overall control of SDC in May.
He said: “We are very keen to hear the views of businesses and to make sure we are in regular dialogue with organisations such as the Chamber.
“There is great potential for growth in this region but it’s important to ensure that everything is joined up.
“We need to build more homes in order for people to be able to live in the area and fulfil the roles that businesses need to grow, but the infrastructure has to keep up.
“For example, we’ve built one new primary school in the district over the past 20 years and the transport system hasn’t kept pace with growth.
“When I speak to businesses, they talk about skills and labour shortages as a barrier to growth.
“So, when we draw up a new iteration of the Local Plan and create a new economic strategy for south Warwickshire, it will be with all of this in mind and it will be ensuring that new development happens in the right place.”
Larry Coltman, the chair of the South Branch of the Chamber, continued: “We are always listening to the views of our members who are businesses of all sizes and sectors and we are able to feed that back into decision-makers.
“It was great to hear from Coun Cowcher and we look forward to having ongoing engagement with the new administration.”
Corin Crane, chief executive of the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, updated the meeting on two key strands of work being undertaken by the Chamber on skills and employment land.
The Chamber’s Local Skills Improvement Plan was recently given the green light by government and puts business at the heart of improving skills in the region.
The Chamber has also recently published a report on employment land in the region to highlight how a shortage of space is holding back business growth.
Corin added: “These are two of the key factors that our members cite when they talk about being unable to grow at the pace they would like and that is why the Chamber is leading in these areas.”