James Durie - my Chamber round up February 2019

James Durie
Chief Executive - Bristol Chamber & Initiative | Business West
14th February 2019

Did you know Bristol has been chosen as one of the best European cities to visit in 2019?The Independent described it as one of ‘the most happening’ destinations for 2019. And right at the end of last year Bristol also won the ‘Rising Star’ category for destinations making a name for itself at the National Geographic Traveller Awards. For those of us that live and work in Bristol, we already know about its incredible buzz, energy and talent and for you our business community we are working in lots of ways to build on this, but it’s great to see that the media and public both here and overseas increasingly recognise this.

It’s hard to believe that we are just a month and a half into 2019 and that such huge uncertainty surrounding Brexit continues to persist. We continue to very actively listen to our members’ issues and help raise and voice your views and concerns to local MPs and central government, and through local and national organizations and media outlets, such as the Financial Times , Sky News, as well as sharing our insights and offering our support through our Trading Through Brexit portal.

We’ve been involved in a number of strategic activities over the last month or so. On 23 January we gathered a wide range of local authority leaders and employers from across our local and combined authorities and public transport providers, for our West of England Transport Debate and Summit. The event was a positive opportunity to discuss the growing congestion and need for improved mobility across the city region and by so doing directly support continued economic growth.  We asked in the run up to the event and continue to ask you our Chamber & Initiative members what they would like to see happen with the region’s public transport system so that it delivers for the business community. The planned expansion of Bristol airport will also support growth & connectivity for the region and which we continue to strongly support. In other news, we are also involved in the Bristol ‘One City Plan’, which inspired by our long term High in Hope plan is crafting a vision and working out how we can collectively create a fairer, healthier, economically vibrant and sustainable city looking out to 2050.

Have you come along to the Bristol Distinguished Address Series yet?  It’s an excellent programme that we help to deliver in partnership with UWE Business School and other business groups. It may sound daunting but it’s in fact an inspiring series of public lectures that brings top level business leaders to Bristol. The events are free and are also a great chance to network with local businesses. The next speaker is Joe Garner, CEO of Nationwide Building Society on 27 Feb – hope to see you there. Read our Q&A from Warren East, CEO of Rolls Royce who spoke in January.

We are keen to talk more and raise awareness about mental health and in the workplace. Around 1 in 4 people will suffer from a mental health issue at some point in their lifetime and according to the Mental Health Foundation, this is costing UK employers approximately £2.4 billion per year. Businesses of all types and sizes do need to make reasonable adjustments for staff’s mental health problems and become aware of their responsibilities. We have a hub on our website on this topic, with a number of interesting blogs - I particularly enjoyed this one from Tom Hore at Bristol Mind, ‘Reality needs to reflect rhetoric from employers on mental health’.

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