On 10th December 2020 we published our Business Manifesto for 2021. The fourth annual statement of its kind, it sets out the opportunities and challenges our membership want to champion and which we believe will have the most impact. It commits the Chamber, a politically neutral organisation, to lead, support and campaign for a programme of activity across the region in 2021.
In these times of EU transition and the coronavirus pandemic, 2020 evidenced the fact that our business community sees an organisation like Thames Valley Chamber as one of the region’s anchor institutions. The business partnership is based on dual objectives – to develop and deliver outstanding services, and to play a part in the growth and development of our regional economy.
We set out four main priorities, on which the Chamber will focus:
Resilient Infrastructure Networks: Promote the need for investment in a resilient infrastructure network for the Thames Valley, strengthening provision of physical and digital networks that will support the region’s future sustainable economic growth and innovation.
Low-Carbon, Green Economy: Be an advocate for in-region excellence and thought leadership, supporting the greater awareness and understanding of the steps we all need to take for a more sustainable, low carbon, green future for the Thames Valley.
EU Exit Transition: Use the Chamber’s experience to provide our businesses community with relevant support and practical information as Britain transitions out of the EU and to lobby Government to ensure frictionless trade, investment and freedom of movement for the workforce.
Restart, Rebuild, Renew: Continue to support initiatives that will Invest in the Success of the region, its productivity and the wider levelling up agenda, and the “Restart, Rebuild, Renew” of the UK and Thames Valley economy, post COVID-19.
These priorities are framed by the following six core themes that inform, influence and shape our vision and wider programme of work and events across the region and at the local level.
Business Manifesto Advisory Group (BMAG)
The BMAG acts as a scrutiny and review body, overseeing progress on the delivery of the Chamber’s annual Business Manifesto.
Chaired by an established and leading figure from business, the BMAG meets three times a year with agendas themed around the Business Manifesto’s main priorities. Reflecting on these and the wider issues affecting the Thames Valley and the prevailing political landscape, the BMAG continues to attract senior figures, Government representatives and business leaders as speakers and contributors.
The next BMAG, chaired by Chris Parker, TVCC Associate and former Director – Legal and Corporate Affairs, Microsoft, will be taking place on 21st April, 14:30-16:00, on the theme ofEU Exit Transition.
20th October, 14:30-16:00:Sustainability and Climate Change.
Ed Hawkins, Professor of Climate Science, University of Reading.
To learn more about the BMAG and its work, please contact Jess Harrison, Policy and Project Executive.
Western Rail Link to London Heathrow (WRLtH) Working Group
Providing a business solution to securing the commitment, funding and delivery of the project.
Drawing on the expertise and experience of senior infrastructure and engineering companies within membership, this working group is leading the Chamber’s engagement with Government, key stakeholders and other key partners associated with delivering the project. Providing an informed steer and project guidance, representatives of the group have met the Secretary of State, lobbied Government officials and their agencies, written to MPs and both mobilised and supported partners helping deliver the project.
Other activities include; promoting the ‘Elevator-pitch’ to the project benefits; lobbying the BCC and other accredited Chambers across the South and South West of England and South Wales to pull together behind the project, and supporting our key partners (e.g. Thames Valley Berkshire LEP) to ensure a consistent, uniform approach is being taken.
TVCC supports this project because it will deliver wider Government objectives for levelling up regional inequality, greening the economy and net-zero targets, stimulate the recovery of industry sectors hardest hit by COVID-19 and help with the recovery of the aviation industry and its supply chains.
The Western Rail Link to London Heathrow (WRLtH) is a proposed 6.5km rail link (largely via a tunnel) between the Great Western Main Line and London Heathrow Airport, leaving the Main Line east of Langley. The recommended route can be foundhere.
WRLtH will: Deliver high ROI and major benefits to UK plc in added GVA, new jobs and CO2 reductions; Bring Heathrow closer to nearly 14 million people in the South West, Wales, South Midlands and Thames Valley; Increase attractiveness of these regions to existing business, potential investors, overseas tourists, international research and students; Improve freight access and Reduce road congestion and pollution.
If you’d like to submit a statement of support on behalf of your organisation, please use our Framework Statement for guidance.
Further delays to DCO process for WRLtH and need for urgency
In December 2020, the Department for Transport (DfT) notified the Chamber of a further one-year delay to the Development Consent Order (DCO) process for WRLtH. This delay is to enable further negotiations with Heathrow Airport Limited (HAL) for a significant contribution to project costs. If agreement is achieved in late 2021 that will result in the planned submission of the DCO application moving to Winter 2022, resulting in a predicted in-service date of 2030/31.
The Chamber responded to theMinister’s letter (10/12/20) expressing our disappointment and our continued call for government to ensure this project is at the front of its transport infrastructure spending plans.
TVCC is working with partners across the benefitting regions to demonstrate the urgent need for a firm commitment to WRLtH and the considerable risks of delay in terms of loss of the annual economic, environmental and social benefits, increased costs and lost inward investment and business retention.
To find out more about the WRLtH Working Group, please contact Jessica Harrison, Policy and Project Executive. Follow us on Twitter: @TValleyChamber for WRLtH updates.