UK Local Elections Roundtable

By Emma Lynch

On 3 June, the UK India Business Council (UKIBC), together with APCO, hosted an exclusive interaction with special guests Rt. Hon Amanda Milling MP, Co-Chair of the Conservative Party, and David Shepherd, Director Trade and Investment, Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership and West Yorkshire Combined Authority.

Setting the Scene

Recent local elections across the UK showed mixed results for political parties. The Conservatives fared very well in local elections, beating Labour in Hartlepool, a labour strong hold, as well as retaining elected Mayors in Tees Valley and the West Midlands.

On the other hand, Labour did not perform as well in the local elections which led party leader Sir Keir Starmer to reshuffle his team to try to stop losses in the so-called red wall seats. Labour do, however, still control the vast majority of Mayors in all the major cities (excluding Birmingham) – London, Manchester, Liverpool – and appointed mayors in the West of England and West Yorkshire. Additionally, as well as ousting the Tories in Cambridge, Labour continue to hold control over Wales.

The Scottish National Party (SNP) did well in Scotland, but not enough to gain the overall majority needed to give Nicola Sturgeon the mandate to take on the 2nd independence referendum she craves.

What this means for Investors in the UK

Discussing these results, Amanda mentioned that due to recent lockdowns people are far more aware of local issues which is reflected in the recent polling with voters wanting better maintenance of their local area.

Levelling up was a key point of Amanda’s address to participants. She stressed the importance of levelling up in ensuring that everyone has jobs, investment, and opportunity, wherever they are. The agenda for advancing can create these opportunities as well as help support the necessary skills and education.

David gave participants an overview of recent happenings in West Yorkshire – including its new leadership under their first female metro mayor, Tracy Brabin – in terms of the economy as it seeks to recover from the pandemic. West Yorkshire is dominated by BPFS (business, professional, and financial services) as well as healthcare and manufacturing. It is also home to a variety of education institutions including nine universities and more colleges.

When discussing recovery, David capitalised on the ability to be agile going forward. He added that those agile regions who find the right winning system now, will be those that prosper and recover the soonest, which was important in terms of their devolution deal. Despite the pandemic, FDI into the region has remained consistent, including those companies which were already established in the region.

David also reaffirmed Amanda’s point that there has been a shift towards localism and much bigger interest in politics from society and business, adding that West Yorkshire’s evolution consultation was one of the largest done in the UK.

The participating businesses spoke about their innovation and investments in the UK, but admitted challenges sometimes stand in the way of strengthening their innovation in the country. All feedback was well received by Amanda and David, who stressed their support and dedication to find appropriate solutions.

Many thanks to Amanda and David for providing their time and insights, and to our participants for sharing their feedback and excellent questions. As the first interaction of our India Advocacy Group meeting, we were delighted with the valuable contributions and look forward to future engagements.

UKIBC’s India Advocacy Group

The UKIBC’s India Advocacy Group is a new initiative we are undertaking to support Indian businesses based in the UK. We will use this group to understand some of the key issues Indian businesses face in the UK, and to support them via introductions, advocacy and intelligence. For further information on our India Advocacy Group and how to get involved, please email chris.heyes@ukibc.com.


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