As Rugby’s local Member of Parliament, I will always speak up for the great heritage in manufacturing and engineering which has brought jobs, skills and growth to the area for generations. Last week, I had the opportunity to highlight the skills at GE Energy in Rugby during an evidence session held by the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Select Committee. The Committee is currently undertaking a joint inquiry with our colleagues on the Welsh Affairs Select Committee into the proposed Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon Project. During our discussions, I have emphasised the importance of this project to Ministers for supporting the wider supply chain and ensuring that we secure critical skilled jobs here in Rugby.
The Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon would also help deliver clean, low carbon energy capable of powering thousands of homes and help us to move towards a more sustainable energy platform – something that I know is important to local residents. I hope that Ministers will now swiftly reach a decision so that those in the supply chain can have some certainty.
Alongside examining significant infrastructure projects, the Select Committee is also looking at ways in which we can support the small businesses which are the lifeblood of our economy. Last week I convened a meeting bringing together representatives from the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership, Chamber of Commerce, the FSB, Warwickshire County Council and Rugby Borough Council to discuss the support that presently exists locally for small businesses. One such option is the Growth Hub, which is an excellent resource for smaller businesses throughout Coventry and Warwickshire looking to grow and expand.
Our discussions identified a number of areas in which support for businesses can be improved, particularly on late payments – which I am pleased to say both Rugby Borough Council and Warwickshire County Council have taken measures to avoid - and the need to improve the skills of our workforce in order to improve productivity. As I and my colleagues on the Select Committee continue our inquiry into small businesses, I will continue to ensure that the voices of Rugby businesses are heard so that we can address their concerns and help them to grow and create the jobs of the future.