14 Feb Chairman’s Report 10th February 2017
Sir Nicholas Soames thanked Stuart Scholes for all his efforts and for continuing to encourage people to network in the town.
He admitted that getting folk along to meetings and taking part in things could be a thankless task. He applauded the new newsletter and said that he would share pertinent news as and when it became available.
Sir Nicholas talked about the challenges Brexit would bring but said that it was important to move forward and to give everyone certainty. The economy is doing well, mostly due to our strong consumer economy and low interest rates. He warned that the trade agreements required post Brexit were extremely complex and would take many years to negotiate, two years would simply not be long enough.
Looking at the local scenario, he said that MSDC had been doing a great job trying to manage the demand for more housing. He accepted that the real problem was infrastructure to go with the growth in population. He said that there was a real risk that Mid Sussex could get choked by its own success.
Bob Russell asked Sir Nicholas how trade deals were negotiated. Sir Nicholas explained the complexity he encountered whilst being Minister for Agriculture. He talked to Margaret Belsey about the insurance market in Europe. Bob Mainstone raised the frustrations involved in moving the Neighbourhood Plan forward now that it had been approved. Everyone accepts that we need more houses, the question will be where and whether the infrastructure will be there to cope with it. Sir Nicholas said that the Government is working to give more weight to Neighbourhood Plans and to make sure that developers do not undermine them. Norman Webster raised the issue of skills shortage. Sir Nicholas said that we live in an area with very low unemployment rates and a severe lack of skills and British citizens willing to do some of the jobs required to build houses and infrastructure. We suffer from too much commuting.
Sir Nicholas invited Stuart Scholes to write on the issue of the lack of office space in the town.
Sir Nicholas thanked all of the EGBA committee for their work, the work of District Councillors and Town Councillors.