Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg MP, was in Watford last Thursday to see how the town and the county was faring as a result of the recent recession. He met with leaders from business, education and local government at West Herts College. The meeting, centred around the challenges facing local businesses.
The Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), a new business-led partnership responsible for growing the local economy and encouraging inward investment in the county, was represented at the meeting by its Chair, John Gourd, of Johnson Matthey, its two most recent recruits, Peter O’Gorman of Santander Corporate Banking and Andrew Percival of VINCI plc and fellow LEP Board Member, Dan Dark of Warner Bros. Studios Leavesden.
John Gourd said: “This was an excellent opportunity to discuss with Nick Clegg how well the public and private sectors are working together in Hertfordshire to make a positive difference to businesses and residents alike across the county, such as recent joint efforts to secure government backing for the delivery of the Croxley Rail link. Gourd went on to say “The Deputy Prime Minister recognises that local businesses are vital to our economic prosperity and that it is crucial that the Government engages with them and listens to their concerns.
Earlier in the month Nick Clegg had urged small businesses to apply for funding from the Regional Growth Fund (RGF) which the government announced in autumn another £1 billion was being made available for bidding.
Deputy prime minister Nick Clegg said that companies can apply for funding from the RGF pot to help them expand and create jobs in the future. He added that 48 companies have already benefitted from the first two rounds of the funding, helping to create or protect 330,000 jobs.
Dorothy Thornhill, Liberal Democrat Elected Mayor of Watford, who hosted the meeting, said: “I was delighted to facilitate a roundtable between the Deputy Prime Minister and key local businesses. It is fundamentally important that our political leaders are given the opportunity to appreciate the reality of how the wider economic downturn has affected businesses. Nick was glad to hear its not all bad news!”