South West business leaders discuss Welsh devolution at Westminster
New devolved powers announced for the Welsh Assembly on the 1st March 2015 are set to change the political and economic landscape in the South West.
With 90% of the Welsh population living within 50 miles of the English border the new powers will impact the future of the South West.
To discuss this Business West brought together business leaders and public sector representatives at an event in London hosted by the Rt Hon Dr Liam Fox MP.
Attendees included Charlotte Leslie, MP for Bristol North; Colin Skellett, Chair of WOE LEP; Robert Sinclair, Chief Executive of Bristol Airport and Sue Turner; Director of Communications at Bristol Port.
The Rt Hon Dr Liam Fox, Member of Parliament for North Somerset and host of the discussion, comments:“The principle of devolution is a sound one but its application is fraught with dangers.
“We need more economic activity generated outside London and the South East, but there is no point simply moving activity from one part of the country to another as a result of artificial distortions.
“The West of England, and the Bristol area in particular, is doing very well economically. We do not need anti-competitive measures Introduced under the guise of devolution.
“There is no advantage to UK plc for costly shifting resources around for no overall gain.”
Sue Turner, Director of Communications at The Bristol Port Company comments: “The Bristol Port Company has serious concerns regarding the devolution of additional powers to the Welsh Government and the impact this could have on businesses in the South West.
“The implications of any further devolvement must be fully assessed in order to avoid destabilising business in transport, energy and a range of other sectors. We currently have a very competitive level playing field – it isn’t always perfect but we are all treated the same.
“From Bristol Port we can see Newport and Cardiff and we compete with each other very effectively. If port development were to be devolved to Wales, a mass of red tape would have to be invented to recreate the current market-led approach.
“This Government should stand for encouraging competition not creating bureaucratic burdens.”