Last week we welcomed the official opening of the Chichester Enterprise Centre. This modern, flexible business centre aims to create new jobs in Chichester by encouraging start-up, micro, small and medium sized businesses to set up and be able to expand within the district. The centre is a £6 million investment by Chichester District Council which will be run by BasePoint who operate business centres across the country. The centre is already home to 24 businesses ranging from professional services such as lawyers, architects and website designers through to a company that makes teeth for implants which are hand painted! The facility will be able to accommodate up to 82 businesses when full and offers a range of flexible workspace which includes offices and workshops. The environment is very modern offering break out areas where companies can mingle and share ideas and contacts. Supporting local businesses and encouraging their growth is vitally important and we are doing a good job in West Sussex where the number of registered companies has grown over the last year by 2.7%. In fact, 811 new businesses were formed in the Chichester District in 2017 alone and we want to build on this. The Chichester Chamber of Commerce is also there to provide support and access to a strong business network.
In Parliament, we have the Lords amendments to the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill back in the Commons. There are a total of 15 amendments against the government, but the main areas of discussion will be around the new customs arrangements and the meaningful vote. The Lords amendments in my view largely seek to anticipate the negotiation and whilst they may be well meaning they actually make the negotiation more difficult as they seek to tie the hands of the Prime Minister and her negotiating teams. The negotiations are complex enough in my view and we need to act as one unified voice to ensure that we get the best deal for the UK. I’m in touch with many businesses across the district who are concerned, and want to ensure that we retain frictionless borders so manufacturing supply chains can continue to function well. There is not a single country in Europe that can make a complete car so we need to cooperate to keep the supply chains moving. We must also ensure that we have access to the right skills whether that is to support our food growing industry or our NHS. These will need to be delivered as part of the negotiations between now and the end of the year however, at this stage we need to get behind the Prime Minister and support her as negotiations reach a critical stage.