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Business News Business News Latest news from Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce Lichfield Festival Chamber hails ‘tremendous’ £47m

is right on track It’s full steam ahead for the Lichfield Festival – following a VIP naming ceremony at London’s Euston Station. Performers and patrons of the

Staffordshire festival gathered at Euston to celebrate the official naming of one of London Midland’s newest class 350 trains. The naming event took place to

mark the train operator’s ongoing support of the Lichfield Festival, which this year celebrates its 35th anniversary. During the ceremony Julian Lloyd Webber, Festival Patron, named the train the Lichfield Festival, a title it will keep for the rest of its working life. The event also saw performances

from violinist Joo Yeon Sir, The Malachites theatre company and trumpeter Will Morley.

Tickets for the Lichfield Festival are now on sale and can be purchased by visiting the Lichfield Garrick Theatre website or calling 01543 412121.

HSBC backs art

for youngsters Global bank HSBC is to sponsor On The Edge – the world festival of theatre for young audiences, which takes place in Birmingham from 2-9 July. On The Edge is a festival of

outstanding theatre from around the globe for children, young people and families. Over one week, the festival will present 16 world-class shows at some of Birmingham’s leading venues: Birmingham Repertory Theatre, mac birmingham, Birmingham City University, The Old Rep and the Patrick Centre. Hosted and produced by Birmingham Repertory Theatre, On The Edge is organised by Theatre for Young Audiences UK and Theatre for Young Audiences Ireland. HSBC UK is creating its new head

office in Birmingham and moving more than 1,000 head office roles here from London. HSBC is also encouraging its employees to volunteer during the festival.

The full programme is available at: Twitter: @OnTheEdge2016 #OTE2016

6 CHAMBERLINK July/August 2016

Business leaders have welcomed the £47 million award of Local Growth Fund money to projects across the West Midlands – creating 32,000 jobs and paving the way for 10,000 new homes. Greater Birmingham Chambers

of Commerce Chief Executive Paul Faulkner hailed the announcement by the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership as a ‘tremendous vote of confidence in the regional economy.’ The funding will also unlock

500,000 sq metres of commercial floor space, the Greater Birmingham & Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (GBSLEP) revealed at its Annual General Meeting today. Mr Faulkner, who was one of the

high-profile speakers at the LEP’s AGM, said: “This is clear confirmation that the Local Growth Fund initiative, administered by the LEP, is a vital element in providing a sustainable and ultimately

the LEP can help drive the regional economy by playing a key role in an initiative such as the Local Growth Fund.” So far a total of 33 projects have

been awarded funds, ranging from £210,000 to South and City College for training facilities for trainee electricians, mechanics and engineers, to £3.15 million to support the £15 million Midland Metro Catenary-Free project. The Local Growth Fund was

Paul Faulkner – LEP a vital element

prosperous economy for the region. This award of £47 million will create 32,000 jobs at a time when there are still many challenges facing the economy, with considerable uncertainties domestically and globally. “And it is fantastic news that it will help provide 10,000 new homes in the region when there is so much demand for new housing across the nation. I believe this demonstrates beyond doubt that

established by Central Government to support projects which boost jobs, skills, housing and commercial floor space. The GBSLEP approves funding for projects and oversees the full programme of activity, with Birmingham City Council acting as accountable body. Also revealed at the AGM was

the appointment of Chris Loughran as Deputy Chair for Delivery for the Greater Birmingham & Solihull LEP. He is he Vice Chairman of Deloitte, and a former leader of his firm’s Midlands practice.

Region leads UK in cutting unemployment

The West Midlands is outpacing the rest of the country in terms of reducing unemployment and getting people back into the jobs market. In the latest jobs figures revealed by the Office for

National Statistics, employment in the region is up and the number of people inactive in the jobs market is down. Unemployment is up, but only slightly compared with other regions. The actual rise in unemployment is 0.2 per cent, but the key statistic is that the rate is down by 0.7 per cent on this time last year. Paul Faulkner, chief executive of the Greater

Birmingham Chambers of Commerce, said: “The ONS statistics highlight another period of strong growth for the West Midlands with our employment rate rising by 0.4 per cent between February and April 2016, four

times the national average. Our unemployment rate has risen slightly this quarter, which is linked to the welcome 0.5 per cent reduction in our levels of inactivity. Overall though our unemployment rate is 0.7 per cent lower than at this point in 2015. This performance is to be applauded. Nonetheless, the West Midlands does still have a higher than average unemployment rate. It is imperative that the region continues at this pace at a time when the UK labour market appears to be levelling off slightly as this provides us with a great opportunity to catch up to national labour market averages.”

• The next Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce Quarterly Business Report will be launched at a breakfast event on 12 July at Birmingham Metropolitan College.

Chamber opposes cuts to inter-city trains

Cutting the number of inter-city trains at stations like Wolverhampton and Coventry would make it almost impossible to commute between some of the region’s key cities, transport chiefs have warned. The idea to reduce services at

the two stations, as well as at Birmingham International and Sandwell and Dudley, has been suggested in a Department for Transport consultation on the replacement of the West Coast

Main Line franchise. But the West Midlands Integrated Transport Authority (ITA) is strongly opposing any reduction, warning it would hit local commuters and the regional economy. And Stephanie Wall, senior

policy and patron advisor with Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce, said: “While the consultation is focusing on ways to improve the rail service for long- distance users, the Department for Transport must not forget that the

West Coast mainline also provides important connections for local commuters. “The consultation suggests

reductions of service at some stations, or prioritising long-distance travellers over local commuters. “If we are to encourage local

commuters to use rail instead of road however, the choice and flexibility of service is highly important. Greater Birmingham already suffers significantly from congestion on the roads,” she added.

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