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Gloucestershire Business News

Is our GFirst LEP at risk?

The strength of the voice of business in Gloucestershire is something which we should be proud of in this county.

So when there are rumours that the forthcoming government spending review later in October might stifle that strong business voice we should be concerned.

I must declare an interest here because I am on the main board of GFirst LEP, the local enterprise partnership for Gloucestershire, charged with supporting business and driving the local economy.

I don't get paid. I do it because I love working with businesses and particularly encouraging young people and supporting fledgling companies.

Editing newspapers here in the county for 15 years, I have been proud of how our further education colleges -Gloucestershire College and South Gloucestershire & Stroud College - have been some of the country's biggest trailblazers in apprenticeships.

This is a county of SMEs - small and medium size businesses - who rely on the consistent support of their local enterprise partnership working with our district councils.

If this support is diluted in any way, the Gloucestershire economy as a whole will suffer.

Individual firms will suffer and as a result, families will suffer too.

Our companies here are the life and breath of the county and we must ensure they are not side-lined by government.

As I write this, I have just finished chairing the GFirstLEP Business Membership group with Chamber of Commerce colleagues, the Federation of Small Business and the University of Gloucestershire.

A key issue at our meeting was how we will seek to help those who lose their jobs after furlough ends next week. How will we combine to find work for them and re-training?

There is no magic wand to save jobs. No quick fix to retrain people in their 50s.

It requires partnerships of businesses and organisations like GFirst LEP and my organisation, Business West, working together for the common good.

I have just written to all our county MPs encouraging them to ensure that the voice of business is not stifled.

After all, our workforce are their constituents, and don't they owe that to them?

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