It is now Easter recess, following a long session that saw the horrific attack in Westminster. My gratitude and respect goes to everyone who works in the Palace of Westminster, not least those who keep us safe, and I pay tribute to those who so sadly lost their lives. It is also important to reflect on solidarity, courage and strength of spirit that was shared by all on that day. Something in which we can all be proud.
JLR Launch Event
I had the pleasure of attending JLR's World Premiere where they launched their 4th generation Range Rover, the Velar. To demonstrate their support for the British car industry, JLR have confirmed that the Velar will be built exclusively at its Solihull plant.
Since it first came off the production line in 1970, Range Rover has become Britain's best known luxury export, accounting for 85% of all premium cars produced in Britain and contributing £10bn annually to the UK economy.
As we enter into negotiations with the EU following the triggering of Article 50 last week, JLR's commitment to producing this wholly British designed and engineered vehicle is a sign of their confidence in British manufacturing, and their dedication to the domestic market.
The Range Rover Velar is the third model to be launched at the Solihull site in just two years due to a £1.5bn investment in new facilities and technologies at the plant.
Video Games APPG Breakfast Roundtable
As Co-Chair of the APPG for Video Games I hosted this event, bringing together fellow Parliamentarians, officials, heads of games companies and other interested parties to discuss the impact of Brexit on the UK video, mobile and online games industry.
Dr Jo Twist OBE, CEO of trade association Ukie, and representatives of the sector presented findings from a series of regional Ukie workshops which sought to understand what businesses are calling for from the negotiations with the EU, and what measures need to be put in place, domestically and globally, to ensure the UK industry's continued success.
This sector is an ever expanding component of the UK's creative industries; one of the six economic sectors noted by the Government to be of particular strategic importance as we leave the EU and in the post-Brexit environment.
Industrial Strategy Policy Lab
I co-hosted a 'Policy Lab' with King's College Policy Institute on Industrial Strategy. The Policy Institute bridges the gap between academics and policy-makers to ensure that government policy is supported by evidence and sets realistic, achievable aims. The event was attended by a range of leading individuals in the fields of industry, academia and policy.
I have taken a great interest in this area of policy, raising it in the Queen's Speech debate last year. Through my membership of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Select Committee, I have heard evidence from a wide range of stakeholders on how the policy should be shaped. The findings from the Policy Lab will be included in the Government's consultation document and I look forward to continuing to work with industry representatives to ensure that the strategy provides the necessary framework for our economy to grow.
I am proud to say that my office has committed to being Disability Confident. As part of this commitment, I will be taking part in 'The Challenge' set my Penny Mordaunt, Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work, to sign up at least 30 local businesses to the Disability Confident Scheme during April 2017.
This scheme aims to:
challenge attitudes towards disabilityIncrease understanding of disability and raise awareness employers Remove barriers to disabled people and those with long-term health conditions in employmentEnsure that disabled people have opportunities to fulfil their potential and realise their aspirationsAssist employers in being more confident when recruiting and retaining disabled staff
Getting involved is voluntary and free, if you would like to find out more about becoming Disability Confident, please get in touch with my office on 02072194538 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
County-Wide Gypsy and Traveller Protocol
Further progress has been made towards the creation of a new county-wide protocol to respond to unauthorised traveller encampments. A meeting organised by the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner brought together the police, county, district and borough councils to build upon the summit held by the Commissioner in Nuneaton in January.
A draft protocol is now being reviewed and will need to be approved by the executive boards of each of the partner agencies responsible for its delivery, prior to any formal adoption.
For more information follow the link: http://www.warwickshire-pcc.gov.uk/progress-towards-county-wide-unauthorised-encampments-protocol/
Baxi – Hack the Heat
I was pleased to attend an event at Baxi which was designed to share information with stakeholders and provide an opportunity to learn about the role innovation plays across all sectors. With its 150 year history, Baxi plays an important role in the local economy and community, not least in terms of employment.
It was a tremendous honour to be invited to speak at the Warwickshire College Group Apprenticeship Graduation Ceremony at the Old Shire Hall. The evening was a very prestigious occasion where we were able to celebrate the outstanding achievements of all the apprentices that had graduated. I wish them every success in the future!
Vitsoe is introducing itself to the town with a 'pop-up' shop in Leamington town centre which will be open until 13th April. I would encourage everyone to make a visit.
Vitsoe is the latest company to make a home for itself in Leamington. It is fantastic to have such an innovative company choosing to be based in our area, a real signal of confidence for the town.
The factory is progressing well on the old Ford foundry site and the company aim to start production in June.