BBC journalist to chair business debate on the prospect of regional devolution

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Last year‘s closely fought independence referendum in Scotland ignited an irreversible debate about the decentralisation of government powers to English regions which is quickly becoming one of the main political battlegrounds of this year‘s general election.

With this in mind, the Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership (WLEP), Herefordshire & Worcestershire Chamber of Commerce, Federation of Small Business (FSB) and Institute of Directors (IoD) have organised a business-led debate on devolution – to be held on Friday 6th February – in order to bring together the local business community to discuss what the prospect of more powers to local government could mean to their business.

This free event, which is open to all local businesses, will provide a forum to discuss what devolution could mean for Worcestershire and across the West Midlands. A particular focus will be on the potential of a combined authority and how this could impact skills, transport and business support.

The debate will be chaired by Mary Rhodes of BBC Midlands Today, presenter of the devolution debate on BBC1 in the West Midlands. Mary‘s local knowledge, combined with her ongoing engagement with the devolution debate in the midlands, means that she is the perfect person to chair the panel of senior business leaders.

Mary Rhodes, BBC Journalist and Presenter, said: “The question of greater power for the regions is an increasingly important one as we build towards the general election. This is a perfect time to debate what devolution could mean to businesses and our local economy.”

The panel of business experts, on hand to show how any potential constitutional changes could impact your business, will be made up of Gary Woodman, Executive Director of Worcestershire LEP, Mike Ashton, CEO of Herefordshire & Worcestershire Chamber of Commerce, Bob Brown, Chairman of Herefordshire & Worcestershire IoD, Judi Brazkiewicz, Chair of the Worcestershire branch of FSB, and Stuart Laverick, Principle and Chief Executive of Heart of Worcestershire College.

Commenting, Mike Ashton of the Chamber of Commerce said: “It is of fundamental importance that local businesses unite to discuss the issues that they see as priorities in the instance of devolution being granted. It is only through a coordinated message that local business concerns will be taken seriously.”

Gary Woodman, Executive Director of Worcestershire LEP, added: “The event is the perfect opportunity for businesses to come and ask any questions they may have over what devolution might mean, debate what it might look like and what the impact could be on skills, transport and business support.”

The morning will begin at 7:30am with a networking period and complimentary refreshments and run until 10:30am.

For more information or to book your place on the day contact the email or call 01905 346 180. Also join the debate on Twitter #WorcsDevoDebate.