Hampshire business boss says levelling up will be a 'failed opportunity' without 'real on-the-ground improvements'

A TOP business leader in Hampshire has warned that the government’s ‘levelling up’ agenda will be a ‘failed opportunity’ without ‘real on-the-ground improvements’ in the region’s industrial infrastructure.

By Tom Cotterill
Wednesday, 2nd February 2022, 4:26 pm
Ross McNally Hampshire Chamber Chief Executive and Executive Chairman
Ross McNally Hampshire Chamber Chief Executive and Executive Chairman

Ross McNally, chief executive of Hampshire Chamber of Commerce – which represents hundreds of businesses across the area, welcomed the long-awaited plan to turbo-charge Britain’s economy.

But he said the ‘devil would be in the detail’ as uncertainty remained over how much cash would actually be pumped into the region from Westminster.

His comments came as levelling up secretary, Michael Gove vowed to reshape British economy and society with the levelling up proposal.

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His plan around 12 national ‘missions’ covering areas including economy, housing, education, transport and culture with targets for dramatic improvements by 2030.

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But Labour pointed to the Tories’ record in office since 2010 ‘turbocharging the decline of our communities’.

Setting out the contents of a much-anticipated White Paper, Mr Gove told MPs it would ‘make opportunity more equal and to shift wealth and power decisively towards working people and their families’.

‘We need to allow overlooked and undervalued communities to take back control of their destiny,’ he said. ‘Because we know that, while talent is spread equally across the United Kingdom, opportunity is not.’

Reacting to Mr Gove’s plan, Mr McNally said: ‘At long last we have confirmation of the content of levelling up policy: commitments to improve skills, productivity, infrastructure, connectivity, opportunities for innovation and other priorities.

‘All that is, of course, welcome but this is still a long-term plan and the devil is in the detail. The extent to which the government will actually channel money towards levelling up in our region will not come until the Budget.

‘To truly unlock Hampshire’s economic potential, we need to see real on-the-ground improvements to industrial and infrastructure investment along the south coast or this will simply be a failed opportunity.

‘That said, I believe the government’s acceptance of the importance of devolved powers has put us in a better position today than we were in yesterday.’

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