MPs and Mayor discuss the vision for Doncaster and answer business questions at Chamber event

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The three Members of Parliament for Doncaster, alongside the city’s mayor, were convened last week for an insightful debate about all of the issues that matter most to our business community.

Organised by the local Chamber of Commerce — and sponsored by Woodland Group — this breakfast event gave attendees an opportunity to start a dialogue about their top concerns, as well as to pose questions directly to a panel comprised of their political representatives.

The latter consistede of Ros Jones CBE, Mayor of Doncaster, as well as the respective MPs for Doncaster North, Doncaster Central and Don Valley, Ed Miliband, Dame Rosie Winterton and Nick Fletcher.

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Together, they explored a diverse range of topics pertaining to the local economy and what must be done in order to help Doncaster fulfil its true potential.

Dame Rosie Winterton and Mayor Ros Jones.Dame Rosie Winterton and Mayor Ros Jones.
Dame Rosie Winterton and Mayor Ros Jones.

The subsequent discussion spanned everything from the city’s Net Zero ambitions (and how they are affected by national government’s recent rowbacks in this area) to the importance of improving transport & infrastructure, the need to tackle skills gaps in our region, the future of Doncaster Sheffield Airport and levelling up the North in general.

Reflecting on this open-forum debate, Dan Fell, Chief Exec of Doncaster Chamber, said: “We are grateful to all of our panellists for taking the time to meet with our members last week and for their incredible candour as they hashed out some very contentious issues.

"It was a valuable opportunity to hear their varying perspectives, to find out more about what’s next for Doncaster and to get a number of significant issues on the radar of those who are empowered to make a real difference.

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“I do hope that attendees emerged from the session with an increased sense of confidence that their political representatives understand the needs of local employers, and also with a degree of assurance that their concerns will be acted on.

MPs Ed Miliband and Nick Fletcher.MPs Ed Miliband and Nick Fletcher.
MPs Ed Miliband and Nick Fletcher.

"That being said, it was evident at the session that a lot of work still needs to be done when it comes to crystallising a compelling vision for Doncaster and communicating it to the business community at large. Indeed, when we carried out an impromptu polling of the audience — asking for a show of hands to see who thinks there is a well-defined vision for Doncaster — the results were quite telling, as only a small handful of attendees responded positively.

“Businesses leaders often tell me that they tire of Doncaster being knocked and want to talk up our city. I share that sentiment but believe there’s more that can be done to inspire them by providing a North Star for our city, and by demonstrating an increased appetite for collaboration, not just within our business communities, but also across the political divide.

“While this is something that our partners in government and the local authority will surely have to wrestle with moving forward — and I do hope that they have taken the message on board — we are keen as an organisation to roll up our sleeves and play our part as well. That’s why we have decided to commence work on a new business manifesto for Doncaster, which will be informed by the voices of our members and will hopefully chart a clearer path forward for the city. This is still in the very early stages of development, but I have high hopes for what it could mean and also for what could be achieved by enhancing the depth of the partnership between Doncaster and its business communities.”

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Offering her perspective on the event, Mayor Ros Jones CBE, said: “Robust discussions were had, the main aim of the meeting was to debate how we can all improve Doncaster and celebrate its current and future successes.”

Echoing these sentiments, Dame Rosie Winterton, MP for Doncaster Central, added: “I am very grateful to Doncaster Chamber of Commerce for arranging this meeting with local businesses. We had a wide-ranging discussion about the needs of businesses in Doncaster and what action is required at both local and national level to ensure our city is a place where we can attract new businesses and support existing businesses to thrive.”

Meanwhile, Nick Fletcher, MP for Don Valley, commented: “The Chamber does a magnificent job in bringing the business community of Doncaster together. These breakfast meetings are a great example. Our city’s future depends on our local economy, which needs to be as strong and vibrant as we can make it. Businesses are at the cutting edge and they have my full support. We need Doncaster to be business-friendly so we can grow and also attract new ventures here and new jobs. That way we improve everyone’s lives. My message to the Chamber is this: Keep doing what you’re doing. Onwards and upwards!”

Finally, Ed Miliband, MP for Doncaster North, said: ““I want to express my huge thanks to Doncaster Chamber for organising the breakfast event last week. Working together with business is the way to help Doncaster succeed and the event was a great opportunity to speak to local businesses, with some excellent discussions about our city. There is a huge amount to fight for and we can get more good jobs for people in Doncaster if government and businesses work in partnership.”

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The MPs Breakfast took place on October 27 at Doncaster UTC. Doncaster Chamber regularly organises events like this to give its members a platform for engaging with politicians, policymakers and other such influential figures.

Next up, there will be a roundtable session with Nick Fletcher, where the MP will have an opportunity to meet with businesses in his Don Valley constituency and discover how he can represent them on the pressing issues of the day. You can find out more about this event, which will be held on Friday the 10th of November, here https://business.doncaster-chamber.co.uk/events/details/roundtable-with-nick-fletcher-mp-8235?calendarMonth=2023-11-01.

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