Rob Johnston, of Cumbria Chamber of Commerce, sets out how the chamber is influencing key decision makers on your behalf.


As 2018 draws to a close, I wanted to let you know what Cumbria Chamber of Commerce has been doing to represent businesses like yours.

Two weeks, ago we met the minister responsible for HS2 to press the case for the new high-speed trains to London to call at stations in Cumbria.

As things stand, they will pass without stopping forcing passengers from Oxenholme, Penrith and Carlisle to change at Preston.

This week we submitted our response to a major a government consultation on the future of national parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Cumbria has two national parks and three AONBs, so it’s crucial that the review recognises the challenges faced by businesses operating there.

To shape our response we conducted a survey, completed by 61 businesses, and convened a focus group to discuss the issues further.

Earlier in the year, we consulted 141 businesses on transport to frame our response to Transport for the North's draft strategic plan.

This document will dictate which road and rail schemes are delivered over the next 30 years.

We are lobbying for the Whitehaven Relief Road, Kendal Northern Access Route, Carlisle Southern Relief Road and an Ulverston bypass, and we have asked Transport for the North to look seriously at Northern Tidal Power Gateways' scheme for a Morecambe Bay crossing.

We recently brought the Low Pay Commission to Cumbria. This is the body that advises the Government on the level of the National Minimum Wage.

We convened a round-table meeting where businesses could put their concerns about the impact of repeated above-inflation increases.

We also hold regular meetings with the Bank of England and this summer brought Deputy Governor Sir Jon Cunliffe to Cumbria to meet businesses.

So you can see that Cumbria chamber is constantly active on your behalf, either directly or through the British Chambers of Commerce, which is hugely influential and has the ear of government.

We’re not afraid to criticise government as we did recently over ministers' mishandling of the Moorside nuclear power project in West Cumbria.

Representation is central to what the chamber is about, and it's a role we will continue to fulfil with vigour in 2019.

You can find out more about what the chamber doing in the improved policy and representation section of our website.

In the meantime, on behalf of everyone at the chamber, I wish you a merry Christmas and a happy and prosperous new year.

Kind regards

Rob Johnston, MBE, FCIM

CEO, Cumbria Chamber of Commerce