Business Minister sets challenge for Winchester City Council

Press Release: 07/03/2013

The photograph shows (from left to right): the Rt Hon Dr Vince Cable MP, Cllr Robert Humby, Cllr Keith Wood and the Mayor, Cllr Frank Pearson.

The latest in a run of high-profile ministerial meetings saw Winchester City Council’s Leader and Deputy Leader meet the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, the Rt Hon Dr Vince Cable MP, at Abbey House yesterday afternoon (6 March) to discuss the delivery of co-ordinated business support.

The Minister took time before speaking at a European Banking Conference being held by the University of Southampton at Guildhall Winchester to discuss the role of district councils in supporting enterprise, in particular small- to medium-sized businesses that are the economic lifeblood of districts such as Winchester.

During the meeting, Dr Cable complimented the Council on its approach, referring to it as an ‘enterprising local authority’ which ‘used its own initiative’. When Cllr Robert Humby, Deputy Leader with the Portfolio for Economic Development, Strategic Planning and Tourism, spoke of the Council’s aspiration to be a catalyst for the local economy, Dr Cable added

What you say is music to my ears.

The discussion touched on the role of the new local enterprise partnerships and the chambers of commerce in providing the link between business and Government, but Dr Cable recognised that there was work to be done in finding ways to work effectively with and through district authorities like Winchester. He presented a challenge to Cllr Keith Wood, Leader of the Council, to develop a model which would enable this to happen.

Cllr Humby said after the meeting:

We are proud that Dr Cable took the time to find out more about Winchester’s business life. Despite our vibrant local economy, there are still real issues; for example, around access to finance and workspace. We are increasingly providing a ‘one-stop shop’ for business support, and we know our local area inside out. What better partner could Government have for delivering programmes targeted at our smaller businesses?

Cllr Wood added:

We are delighted to have been set a challenge for identifying a new way of working with Government. I think this is further proof that Winchester City Council punches above its weight when it comes to the economy and is being recognised increasingly as a friend to business in these difficult economic times.

After a quick photo in the doorway to Abbey House, Dr Cable left to make his keynote speech at the European Banking Conference, a high-profile event supported by Winchester City Council.