With the EU’s granting of a ‘flextension’ until 31 January 2020, the uncertainty surrounding Brexit continues for communities across Yorkshire and the North East.
While the IoD has been supporting and working with businesses to prepare for Brexit, we must not lose sight of the fact that whole communities are affected by the continual to-ing and fro-ing between Westminster and Brussels.
Important domestic issues and challenges have simply got lost in all the energy and emotion surrounding Brexit.
Future investment in the NHS and education, the skills agenda, housing, transport and infrastructure – a particular pressing matter across the North – have gone under the radar and merited little or no real debate.
And all the while communities and their families and businesses and their employees continue to sit tight, prevented from making important decisions as to their future direction.
The retail community has been especially hit hard with the high street struggling in many locations including those in Yorkshire and the North East. It was heartening to read that locally efforts are being made to improve the situation.
Harrogate Borough Council and Harrogate District Chamber of Commerce have started a dialogue about encouraging landlords to reduce rents on empty retail units as well as a wider conversation with government on business rates reform.
With no end to the surge in online buying, it is time for a more level playing field to be created to enable the physical high street to feel re-energised and regain its community of customers.
A recent snap poll by the IoD of business leaders on the Brexit deal found there was no consensus on what should happen in the event of a ‘flextension’, although a General Election was seen as the least negative option. No deal as of today (31 October) was rejected by nine out of 10 IoD members.
A pre-Christmas election is now on the cards bringing with it the challenges of encouraging an already disheartened electorate to turn out at polling stations, especially deep in winter.
We must all do our best to ensure communities and their citizens use their vote. More importantly, that they know what they are voting for amid a short timescale in the run up to polling day.
In the meantime, the IoD is committed to helping more businesses prepare for Brexit. We have been hosting a series of events across the region to provide mutual support and debate. Our Director Skills Day on 8 November in York will feature a snap poll about Brexit readiness, the results of which we will feed back to the business community.
• The IoD’s Head of EU and Trade Policy, Allie Renison, will be at Cloth Hall Court, Leeds on 13 November for a free-to-attend Open Doors event, starting at 5pm.
Allie will also address an IoD North Yorkshire Business Breakfast – The Brexit Debate – on 14 November at West Park Hotel, Harrogate, 8.30am. Two complimentary tickets for YP readers – email [email protected]