Peterborough businesses will continue to succeed says Chambers of Commerce chief

Businesses can continue to succeed in Peterborough after Brexit, according to the chief executive of the Cambridgeshire Chambers of Commerce.

Wednesday, 29th June 2016, 6:00 am
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John Bridge admitted the EU referendum result was not what he had wanted, but that it is business as normal for the city’s firms.

His message of optimism was reflected by Peterborough City Council leader Councillor John Holdich who said business enquiries to start up in Peterborough were at an all-time high.

Mr Bridge said businesses were shocked by the Brexit vote, but that “the decision has been made and we need to focus on how we will make that work.”

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He added: “For businesses in Peterborough it’s business as normal. There’s no difference today as a week ago in how they operate. Businesses need to focus on what they are doing which is creating success which they have been doing.

“They have to ignore political froth.

“They’ve been through challenges before and we have been through economic downturns. Like everything they adapt to changing circumstances, and they will adapt to this.”

Mr Bridge also called for continued investment in infrastructure, a further focus on power generation and a continued look at the housing solution.

He added: “I think Peterborough in particular will be able to continue the growth and economic success it’s enjoyed.

“We need to make sure we wait until we get facts before we panic. People are trying to create a problem where there’s not one.

“I would like to see some strong leadership from national politicians with a plan they can put in place which they can articulate to everybody.”

Cllr Holdich, like Mr Bridge, also wanted Britain to remain in the EU, but says he is uncertain what effect Brexit will have on Peterborough.

He said: “It really is too early to tell how we will be affected. We need a couple of weeks to let it settle down.

“I seriously do not know what’s going to happen.”

A reduction in immigration was one of the main arguments put forward by the Leave campaign as a potential benefit of Brexit, but Cllr Holdich does not believe much will change on that front in Peterborough.

He said: “We still get immigration from our former colonies and we still need that migration in. I can’t see how we stop lots of other people coming.

“I completely understand people in Peterborough’s point of view as we had a large increase in the migrant population.

“We do need some skilled migrant workers otherwise it will grind to a halt. We’ve got one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country and they are here and working.”

Cllr Holdich said he would work with everybody to make Brexit succeed, and he was positive about Peterborough continuing to attract new companies to follow in the footsteps House of Fraser which will open a huge distribution hub on the edge of the city.

He added: “I think businesses have known this has been on the cards for months. Our enquiries coming to Peterborough are at an all-time high. I do not think businesses are too worried about it at this time.

“There’s been no phone calls saying they do not want to talk to us any more.

“There are a number of companies interested in coming to Peterborough, they range from more restaurants to manufacturing.

“I’m not worried yet. It’s far too soon to get a consistent picture.”