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28.11.06
Senior Bank of England representative visits Cornwall

Left to right: Phil McVey, Kevin Butler and Thelma SorensenA senior representative of the Bank of England has consulted with members of the Cornwall Business Partnership (CBP) and leading business people of Cornwall.

The talk, by Kevin Butler, the Bank of England Agent for South West England, was a first for the CBP which represents over 9,000 businesses through its collaboration with the Federation of Small Businesses, chambers of commerce, enterprise trusts, Cornwall Agricultural Council and many others.

Thelma Sorensen, CBP chair, initiated the Business Intelligence event - held at Fistral Blue, Newquay, on Monday (November 27th) - with the help of the Objective One Partnership Office.

Mr Butler said: "The Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee sets UK interest rates in order to achieve the Government's target for low inflation. It has regional agencies to advise the Committee on business conditions across the UK. As the Agent, I cover Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly along with most of the rest of the South West. The Deputy Agent, Geoff Harding, and I visit Cornwall regularly to talk to companies individually and also to meet with a 'business panel' of up to thirty firms, once a quarter.

"The meeting with the Cornwall Business Partnership was a useful opportunity both to explain the background to recent changes of interest rate and to listen to the views of those who are running businesses in Cornwall."

Issues for this region that were raised by Mr Butler included skills shortages, the prevalence of low paid jobs which reflect the dominance of the tourism and agriculture sectors, and the continued challenge of distance to key global markets.

But Mr Butler was optimistic about the steadily growing economy of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. He said: "Objective One and the Convergence programmes are and will be a key part of how the Cornish economy develops. UK wide this year there is increasing business investment in research and development, in people through training and in fixed assets such as IT and buildings. Cornwall has a skills shortage but equally there are some important education opportunities (such as the Combined Universities in Cornwall) that will take time to have an impact.

"There have been month by month variations in consumer demand this year and this, together with high energy prices, has probably affected tourism in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. According to some reports, the middle market for tourism was down on 2005, but the season's strength was skewed towards the later months reflecting the remarkable weather.

"I think one of the most significant features for this region is how much higher the level of broadband penetration, supported by the actnow project in Cornwall, is compared to some other parts of the UK. That has given businesses a real platform to develop for the future."

Before Mr Butler's presentation CBP members had heard presentations about the Convergence and associated programmes which will follow Objective One and be managed by the South West Regional Development Agency (SWRDA).

Phil McVey, director of European Programmes for SWRDA, and John McCreadie, an independent consultant who has been retained by the managing authority - held the first business sector consultation on the draft ERDF (European Regional Development Fund) Operational Programme.

Thelma Sorensen said: "The private sector made a strong representation that the vital engagement of the private sector which has been such a resounding success in the Objective One programme should be strengthened in all areas of the Convergence Programme.

"There was also a strong feeling that an independent body, such as the current Objective One Partnership Office, should have a main role during Convergence. The CBP stressed that, like Objective One, this round of investment is in Cornwall, for Cornwall."

For further information please contact Clare Morgan, Media Relations Manager for the Objective One Partnership Office on 01872 223439 or email cmorgan@cornwall.gov.uk.

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Editor's notes:

The Cornwall Business Partnership aims to provide a single voice for business in Cornwall, encourage entrepreneurial activity and boost this region's economy. To contact the CBP telephone 01752 843480 or email: thelma.sorensen@btopenworld.com.

Anyone who wants to read and/or comment on the draft Operational Programme for ERDF Convergence can do so via www.southwestrda.org.uk/what-we-do/policy/european-funding-pos.shtm

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Clare Morgan
Media Relations Manager
Objective One Partnership Office
Castle House
Pydar Street
Truro TR1 2UD
Mobile: 07973 813647
Telephone: 01872 223439

cmorgan@cornwall.gov.uk

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