Ben Lowndes #viewsoncomms

A perspective on PR, development and life in the South West

Category Archives: Politics

Thoughts from #SevernGrowthSummit: no ‘powerhouse’ needed

As business events go, the Severn Growth Summit at Celtic Manor was high profile judging by the response it generated.

I was one of about 350 people to attend the conference, which looked at how government can and businesses improve the economies around the West of England, Cardiff and Newport.

Welsh Secretary and Vale of Glamorgan MP Alun Cairns used the recent decision to abolish tolls on the Severn Bridge to press the case for a Western Powerhouse to drive growth across the areas. The comms teams should be delighted with the coverage this generated. I’ll come back to the powerhouse theme shortly.

There is more than a touch of symbolism to the tolls going. For those who use the bridge every day, it’s said by JLL’s Chris Sutton to be worth an extra £1,500 a year. There are 25m journeys made across the bridge each year and thousands of people use it on their daily commute. It’s a good example of how government action can make working between the three cities easier and more successful.

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Gordon Brown highlights why authenticity matters

Listening to Gordon Brown speak in Bristol this week, it was easy to forget how heavily the burden of Prime Ministerial office appeared to weigh on him in 2010.

The former PM was here promoting his new book to a packed Wills Memorial Hall and spoke with conviction and humour about his life in politics.

He was also candid about the challenges faced by the global economy over the last decade, his role in addressing the crisis and the friction caused by the resulting fallout.

Here was a man at ease with himself, speaking about life with his kids, encounters with Nelson Mandela and even quoting Taylor Swift lyrics.

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Metro mayor: will we see a ‘nice’ election?

The first hustings for the West of England’s mayoral candidates felt different to the usual tribal exchanges we’ve seen in recent elections.

It was a decent, intelligent debate with different ideas and approaches emerging about how to meet the region’s need for more housing, decent transport and a highly skilled, successful economy.

The region is six weeks away from electing the person who will oversee about £1bn in investment in addressing these three challenges.

Everyone seems to agree that these issues are crucial to the West of England’s future success. Anyone who lives or works in the area knows its traffic and housing problems can get people fired up.

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