BREXIT: ‘Exit vote provides us with opportunity’

Dan Fell of Doncaster Chamber. Pic: Shaun Flannery
Dan Fell of Doncaster Chamber. Pic: Shaun Flannery
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Business wants a detailed plan to support the economy in the wake of the Brexit vote - but thanks to devolution it has also handed Sheffield City Region an opportunity, Chamber leaders said.

Chamber leaders in Sheffield and Doncaster called on government to produce a plan for the transition period to prevent damaging falls in confidence, investment, hiring and growth.

But powers from the devolution deal meant the region’s business and regeneration body, the Local Enterprise Partnership, was free to ditch red tape and focus on exports and support for start-ups.

Jill Thomas, president of Sheffield Chamber, said: “The immediate priorities for UK business are market stability and political clarity.

“Firms across the UK want an immediate and unambiguous statement on next steps, along with a clear timeline for the UK’s exit from the European Union.

“If ever there were a time to ditch the strait-jacket of fiscal rules for investment in a better business infrastructure, this is it.”

Dan Fell, chief executive, Doncaster Chamber. said business faced uncharted waters.

“Doncaster has benefited significantly from European funding in recent years – including investment in infrastructure. We now need certainty that the borough, under new governance and funding arrangements, will not only do as well as it has in recent years – in relation to economic development funding – but that it will fair better.

“The fact that there was such a split between London and the North when it came to voting patterns, should highlight the need for government to take this issue very seriously and move beyond catch phrases such as the “Northern Powerhouse” to work with the private sector to deliver on wealth and jobs for all parts of the UK.

“Today’s news will bring short term uncertainty, however, the Chamber remains confident that the recent economic growth we have enjoyed will continue apace.”

Politicians should focus on negotiating a “great settlement” for the UK instead of allowing the fall out from the vote and the prime ministers’ resignation to dominate discussions, he added.

Richard Wright, Sheffield Chamber of Commerce executive director, said the country had operated with a massive trade deficit for far too long and was building enormous debts.

He added: “Now is the time to ditch the old box ticking, process-driven systems that eat money in layers of bureaucracy.

“International trade and start-up support needs to be commercially-focused using people who have been there and done it, and aligned to the regional economic strategy.

“Exiting Europe and the devolution programme give us the opportunity to change this - but does the Combined Authority have the vision to do things differently to the way they always have?”