Key Priorities

Business West has established over a number of years key themes around which we develop most of our policy work, priorities and actions. These are broad and all encompassing themes, and have been reviewed recently.

Below is a brief description of each theme with corporate priorities for each and local applications of the policy themes to the Swindon and Wiltshire area.

TRANSPORT & CONNECTIVITY
Transport and congestion are often mentioned by business as a barrier to growth in urban areas, whilst connectivity and superfast broadband are key issues across urban and rural areas alike. The focus here is on ensuring we have the right infrastructure to support business needs.

Swindon and Wiltshire Priorities 2013

  • Electrification of the Great Western mainline – ensure pressure maintained for commencement as indicated
  • Re-doubling of the Swindon-Kemble line – ensure completion by Easter 2014 or sooner
  • Work with Great Western Partnership and Councils to lobby their long term aim to push for a high speed line (HS3) from London Paddington to Cardiff/Swansea
  • Work with Geat Western Partnership and Councils to lobby Government for a Reading/Heathrow spur, thus avoiding the necessity of going into Paddington and back out again
  • Support Swindon & Wiltshire LEP in any discussions with DfT for the Trans-Wiltshire Rail Link (north/south)
  • Liaise with Wiltshire Council/LEP on the issue of superfast broadband across Wiltshire. Engagement with the business community via our Superfast Business support programme
  • Work with Swindon Borough Council to help address and improve the radial flows 
  • Lead a 'Fairer Train Fares' campaign in conjunction with Influence
  • Develop discussions with Forward Swindon and adjacent Councils/LEPs re A420 and A417 improvements
  • Monitor opportunities for the M4 J15 & 16 improvements, and impact of A419/A420 junction linked to the Eastern Development expansion

PLANNING & DEVELOPMENT

As the localism agenda moves forward there are many significant implications for the development of our area, from housing and employment land provision, to all aspects of strategic planning across local authority borders.

Swindon and Wiltshire Priorities 2013

  • Work with Influence to conclude a Local Plan for the Borough that is reflective of the aspirations of our growth plans and Inward Investment Service. In turn assisting cross border dialogue with Wiltshire Council over their Local Plan
  • Ensure that the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) is implemented with due engagement with the business community
  • Assist Influence in their discussions with Swindon Borough Council to adopt a Strategic Planning Committee for key applications (as per Wiltshire Council)
  • Assist Forward Swindon in prioritisation and implementation of the Master Plan for the town centre of SwindonHelp to promote, and where appropriate work with, the North Star leisure development
  • Assist Wiltshire Council/Military in the redevelopment of MOD Lyneham to the new Defence Technical Training Centre 

ECONOMY & BUSINESS GROWTH

In our recent survey, over half of businesses identified access to finance and too much regulation as major barriers to growth. This theme enables us to pick up the key issues of concern to businesses and their ability to grow.  

Swindon and Wiltshire Priorities 2013

  • Develop improved engagement with senior executives from the top companies in Swindon and Wiltshire
  • Assist Forward Swindon with their retention activities for the larger companies of the town
  • Support the Inward Investment Service work being undertaken by Forward Swindon and engage Initiative members as Hosts/Ambassadors for the service
  • Ensure access to international gateway hubs is developed
  • Promote our excellent international services UKTI, EEN, Acorn Interactive and Export Documentation
  • Assist the Borough Council to promote and advance the Cultural and Heritage offering in the town and expand links with Visit Wiltshire
  • Work with Justin Tomlinson MP to improve entrepreneurial knowledge within young people
  • Use all opportunities to promote the area as a pivotal strategic location

EMPLOYMENT & SKILLS
The focus here is on providing business with “job ready” people. This aspect picks up issues to do with education, as well as general employment and skills concerns – another major barrier to growth identified by local businesses.

Swindon and Wiltshire Priorities 2013

  • Work closely with the Employment & Skills Board for Swindon as they develop a strategic plan for the Borough, and co-ordinate with Wiltshire and ultimately the LEP
  • Work with sponsors and partners, especially Swindon College, to mould the curriculum for the University Technical College (UTC) in Swindon
  • Continue to work for better access to Higher Education for Swindon and Wiltshire
  • Use our over-arching position across both Swindon and Wiltshire to bring the three colleges closer together

ENERGY & LOW CARBON ECONOMY
The target of reaching an 80% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2050 is a major challenge for all and a key issue for business, as are issues around energy supply and energy security. A developing of our theme and one that seldom features at the top of SME agendas, but still a critical issue for business.

Swindon and Wiltshire Priorities 2013

  • Establish a forum group with Forward Swindon Regen SW on this topic and through this the Council in delivering its policies
  • Ensure the aspirations of the Future Cities bid are developed
  • Assist with the development of sites across Swindon and Wiltshire for renewables 

NATIONAL & LOCAL GOVERNMENT

This theme is largely based around government and political agendas, where we can pick up on a whole range of issues of interest to business, such as, LEPs, elected mayors, and general and local elections.

Swindon and Wiltshire Priorities 2013

  • Support the role of the LEP and provide appropriate business representation
  • Continue to engage with MPs and Leaders of the Councils representing the business community
  • Assist businesses via briefings, meetings, etc. to clarify the understanding and implications of key topics
  • Working across the Business West region in discussions with senior politicians who regularly visit us