Regional business leader urges voters to keep Britain in the European Union

The boss of a leading homes builder and developer in Bourne has stepped into the political debate over the UK's future in the EU.

Tuesday, 10th May 2016, 11:36 am
Updated Tuesday, 10th May 2016, 12:37 pm
Karl Hick, chief executive of the Larkfleet Group.

Karl Hick, chief executive of the Larkfleet Group, in Falcon Way, is urging people to shun the Brexit campaign and to vote to stay in the EU on June 23.

Award-winning Mr Hick, whose companies employ 150 people and support about 600 jobs across the region, says only remaining in the EU will guarantee the stability vital for businesses growth and job creation.

He warns that while the EU referendum debate includes issues other than economics, such as nationality and accountability, the reality is that little will change.

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But he said: “A stable economic environment gives the confidence necessary to invest, to take on staff and to develop new opportunities.

“If we vote on 23 June to stay within the EU we can be sure that things on 24 June will be pretty much the same as they were on 22 June.

“That, in my view, would be good for the UK economy, good for business and good for all of us as individuals.

“Those who advocate leaving the EU are in no position to offer certainty.

“The only certainty they offer is that, if they win the vote, the future on 24 June will be uncertain.

Mr Hick added: “Uncertainty means job opportunities lost, businesses not started, homes not built. Carried forward (as it will be if we vote to leave the EU) uncertainty also risks becoming higher inflation, higher mortgage rates, higher unemployment - and lower wage growth for those still in work.”

The Larkfleet Group of Companies includes housebuilders Larkfleet Homes and Allison Homes.

It employs about 150 people at its offices, stores and factories and construction sites in Cambridgeshire, Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire, Northamptonshire and Rutland with the business supporting an estimated 600 jobs through a supply chain across the East Midlands and East of England.

The flagship company Larkfleet Homes is building around 250 homes a year, with each new home supporting an estimated 1.5 jobs.

Mr Hick said: “Much of the campaigning from those seeking to leave the EU is based on issues far removed from business and economics.

“That is not to say these issues are not important. Matters such as nationality, sovereignty, democratic accountability and the like are real concerns, even if they do not easily translate into pounds and pence. Yet the reality on these issues is that little will in practice change.

“For example, if we want a trading agreement with the EU (which even the leave campaign regards as essential) we shall have to sign up to pretty much the same agreement with regard to freedom of movement for citizens of other EU nations as we have now.”

“Unpredictability is not good for business. It is therefore not good for any of us as individuals because we all rely on business to provide jobs and incomes (including pensions) and to pay the taxes which support public services. On 23 June I shall therefore be voting to remain in the EU.”

Mr Hick was last year named as the Institute of Directors East Midlands Director of the Year and also as the Director of the Year in the Large Company category.

He was also the winner of the Outstanding Entrepreneur Award at the 2015 Global Business Excellence Awards and winner in the Executive of the Year, Materials & Construction category, in the International Business Awards.