Government infrastructure guru quizzed by businesses

Businesses in West & North Yorkshire were able to quiz one of the government’s leading transport and infrastructure gurus recently.

Sir John Armitt, Chair of the National Infrastructure Commission, met with members of West & North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce in Leeds.  The Commission is tasked with providing impartial and expert advice on major long-term infrastructure challenges. It follows the remit for specific studies set by the Government, but also has discretion to determine its own work programme and recommendations.

Transport and infrastructure remain serious issues for many local and regional businesses, especially since last autumn’s publication of the Integrated Rail Plan, which was met with disappointment by many within Yorkshire and the North.  Delegates asked questions or voiced concerns on issues including better connectivity between Leeds and Sheffield, regional aviation policy, and the importance of devolved powers and finance-raising in boosting Northern productivity.

It wasn’t all one-way traffic though: as well as putting tough questions to Sir John and his team, the Chamber members offered their assistance, knowledge and skills in order to boost business productivity and the wider Northern economy.  One delegate, a commissioner on the Yorkshire & Humber Climate Commission, offered to liaise with Sir John’s team on climate resilience and related matters.  Others also offered to provide data, knowledge and other relevant information.

Leading business figure and property specialist, Gerald Jennings, who chaired the meeting, said afterwards:

“Bringing key figures such as Sir John to our area is important.  He gets to hear about the issues that matter to businesses, and they have the opportunity to get their voice heard.  This is what the Chamber is so good at, among other things, and why we will continue to put on events like this for our members.”

Businesses from construction, manufacturing, education, engineering and housing were among those represented at the meeting, held at Addleshaw Goddard.

In 2013, Sir John published a review on long-term infrastructure planning in the UK. His recommendations received widespread support and resulted in the creation of the National Infrastructure Commission two years later.  Previously the Chief Executive of Railtrack (later Network Rail), Sir John also held senior positions with Laing plc and Costain.

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