Government needs to heed SMEs over Brexit, say Black Country firms

The need for Government to take heed of the feelings of smaller firms over the UK’s exit from the European Union, was the key point to emerge from a debate that kicked off Wolverhampton Business Week.

A round table debate was held at the Black Country Growth Hub at the city’s Science Park yesterday with the theme Brexit, What Next?

The more than 20 business representatives attending agreed that the Black Country Chamber of Commerce should be asked to feed through to Government the views expressed, which centred around the lack of detail about the exit process.

Jeff Marlow, business development manager for Wolverhampton City Council, who chaired the debate, said the feeling was that the sooner this was done the better. “The issues facing small businesses around Brexit need to get on the Government’a agenda,” he added

The council’s cabinet member for city economy Councillor John Reynolds said: “No one involved in international trade negotiation is employed by the British Government any more.

“I suspect they are starting from scratch and are not going to invoke Article 50 for a good while because they have not go anyone to work out what is means.”

Programme manager for the West Midlands Manufacturing Club Alec Gillham warned; “The task of dismantling 40 years of European Union law is going to be expensive.”

Mr Gillham saidhad presented a number if key indicators about what had happened to the economy since the June 23 vote including a national slight fall in unemployment,UK car output hitting a 14-year high and a fall in the value of sterling.

He said that so far the referendum result had not had a major impact.

Frank Cochran, owner of Wolverhampton-based FCS Investments, said he felt the UK and business needed to take advantage of opportunities that would arise and apply confidence and optimism. “We can make this the best ever if we believe we can,” he enthused.

Neil Herman, general manager of H and R Chempharm, Tipton, said his business was doing well on exports thanks to the weaker pound, but the downside was that it imported 60 per cent of the raw products it needed.

“We are reliant on there being no massive trade barriers for the business going forward,” he added.

Mr Herman said the Government needed to take into account the needs of businesses highly reliant on both imports and exports

Marion Doherty, a trade advisor for the Department for International Trade, suggested businesses should also lobby their local MPs to get their views over.

*Wolverhampton Business Week continues through to Friday

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