On Friday, I attended a business meeting, courtesy of Conservative Business Relations, for local businesspeople to meet with and discuss future policy with Shadow Business Minister Jonathon Djangoly MP at the City College building in St. Andrews Street. It was great to see such a big turnout of local businesses and clearly a sign that many people see us at a govenrment-in-waiting. I made a few remarks regarding changing educational qualifications - such as the Diplomas and Young Apprentiships - and their impact on business. I also spoke about educational achievement in Norfolk and the skills that school leavers require to add value to businesses. From the feedback afterwards I gather that this struck a real chord with businesses.
In addition there was much discussion about Norfolk's infra-structure, including work on the A11, A47, A140 and A12 and the rail network, the growth agenda around Norwich, red tape in business and support for the tourist industry. The businesspeople there were certainly angry with the government, and felt it was actively getting in the way of business in providing jobs and creating wealth. I was glad to see the Conservatives making promises to, for example, apply business rate discounts automatically instead of making firms apply for them.
Afterwards, along with fellow PPCs George Freeman (Mid Norfolk) and Chloe Smith (Norwich North) we did a video for the Chamber of Commerce about the event and future Tory policies on business which will go up on their website when it is ready (I will provide a link when it is ready).
The most important part of the meeting was listening to what business want and need from a future Conservative government; low tax, simplified regulations and an open market. Many businesses - such as some of the hotel owners from North Norfolk - reported good trading, but mant remain concerned about the future. That is why it is important that we stick together, listen to business and work our way through tough times together.