CHAMBER NEWS Leaders pressing for ‘early’ leg of HS2

Political leaders in the Midlands have united with their northern counterparts to press the case for building the HS2 Eastern Leg earlier than planned – as new research showed it could create up to 150,000 jobs. In a letter to Prime Minister

Boris Johnson, they urged him to back his infrastructure pledge by clearing the way for Phase 2b of the high-speed network to begin ahead of schedule as they seek to revive economies in the wake of Covid-19. New figures show that the area

linking Leeds and the East Midlands has witnessed a £58bn shortfall in infrastructure funding over the past decade when compared to Greater London. Kay Cutts, the Conservative

leader of Nottinghamshire County Council, and Leeds City Council’s Labour leader Judith Blake also told Downing Street their economies are missing out on billions in potential every year because they struggle with unreliable and overcrowded trains.

They said early investment in

new infrastructure is critical to Government achieving the goals implied by its levelling up agenda. Councillor Cutts said: “We have

developed detailed plans to make sure the benefits of HS2 extend to people at community level. So this is our route to future prosperity for everyone and the sooner we start building, the better.” Councillor Blake added: “We

now need Government to reverse historic under-spending and unleash the economic capacity of city regions like Leeds and counties like Nottinghamshire.” Research commissioned by the

councils, and carried out by Volterra Partners, forms part of their submission to the National Infrastructure Commission’s Rail Needs Assessment for the Midlands and the North. Among the findings were that

the Eastern Leg is home to 13 million people and about six million jobs, equating to 20% of the UK, while 14% of the area’s working population is in transport poverty.

Without HS2, it found that

choked transport would lead to people across the area missing out on tens of thousands of jobs and billions of pounds in economic growth. The Chamber backed the letter

by saying the additional capacity provided will “help our businesses

to connect, compete and grow”. Chief executive Scott Knowles

added: “Bringing the HS2 eastern leg to fruition is particularly pertinent in a post-Covid economy, where connectivity between regional cities unlocks more opportunities for businesses and the labour market.”

Businesses urged to apply for awards

High-flying businesses across Leicestershire have been encouraged to apply for one of the UK’s top enterprise awards to celebrate their success and reignite confidence in the local economy. Applications are now open for the Queen’s Award for

Enterprise scheme, which has four categories recognising achievements in areas such as international trade, innovation and sustainability. And as the economic recovery in Leicester gets

underway following a local lockdown, the Lord Lieutenant of Leicestershire Mike Kapur OBE (pictured) believes the awards are an ideal platform to showcase the city and county’s industrial strengths. He said: “It’s rare for me to come across a local

organisation that knows about the Queens Award for Enterprise and yet we have some incredible businesses here. Now more than never, we need Leicestershire to start to feel good about itself and for our businesses to be properly rewarded for their great achievements by gaining the highest accolade in the UK – and I’m committed to making this happen.” The Lord Lieutenant has established a workstream to

promote the awards to local businesses and has appointed as its chairman Ian Borley, who recently retired as senior partner at KPMG’s East Midlands practice. Ian said: “I’m very pleased, and honoured, to be

asked to lead this group of some of Leicestershire’s best-known business leaders in the task of encouraging the county’s successful businesses to apply for a Queen’s Award for Enterprise. “As befits the pre-eminent business award in the UK,

a Queen’s Award is not easy to win – but well worth the effort to those who succeed. “For example, 73% of past winners have directly

attributed increased sales to holding the Queen’s Award and 79% said it gave a boost to staff morale. This is a

26 business network August/September 2020

great way to give your business a real competitive edge.” The Queen’s Award for

Enterprise comprises four categories: international trade, innovation, sustainable development and promoting opportunity through social mobility. Scott Knowles, chief

executive of the Chamber, is helping to promote the awards. He said: “Some of the region’s best business success stories in recent years have been told through the Queen’s Award for Enterprise, and it’s a tremendous platform that can propel local companies into a national arena. “Leicester has endured some challenging times

recently but any opportunity to shine a positive light on the city and wider area is welcomed – and we’d urge businesses that believe they have prospered in the face of adversity to share their achievements far and wide.” Businesses in Derbyshire and

Nottinghamshire are also urged to apply for the Queen’s Award for Enterprise, and applications are open until 9 September.

Any business wanting to know more should contact the Lieutenancy Office for information and tips about the application process and eligibility criteria at or visit

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