Northern Chambers of Commerce Write Letter To Prime Minister, Calling For Intervention in DSA Negotiations
An open letter —penned by all of the accredited Chambers of Commerce for the North of England and the Sheffield Property Association — has been sent to the Prime Minister, asking for their urgent intervention in the ongoing Doncaster Sheffield Airport (DSA) negotiations.
Sent to the Prime Minister on October 14th, the letter was signed by sixteen Chambers, as well as the Sheffield Property Association. Together, these organisations represent a total of 17,000 member businesses (which collectively employ 2,420,000 workers), giving them valuable business insight and credibility when it comes to discussing the key economic issues of the day and articulating the views of the North’s business communities.
The open letter, addressed directly to Liz Truss herself, recalls how the PM previously committed her government to weighing in on the DSA crisis at her first PMQs. However, despite this pledge from over a month ago, South Yorkshire’s residents and businesses have yet to see any meaningful action on this front.
Acting in the face of difficult circumstances, regional partners have been valiantly pulling together to find solutions to the DSA crisis. Although they have been compelled to work at an incredible pace, the public sector has managed to identify potential buyers for the airport site and even made a substantive lifeline proposal that would effectively cover DSA’s losses while a sale is negotiated.
With their new letter, the Northern Chambers are asking Liz Truss to fulfil her end of the bargain and to use the full weight of her office to urge Peel Group to accept this offer and return to the negotiating table.
Speaking about the letter, Dan Fell, Chief Exec of Doncaster Chamber, said: “As a network that is dedicated to protecting the interests of our private sector, we naturally recognise that any enterprise has the right to make commercial decisions about its own business.
“Yet we cannot ignore the fact that DSA’s impending closure has far-reaching consequences that extend beyond just the airport’s owners. If we were to lose the airport – and the opportunity it represents – at a time when the economy is already in such a fragile state, the implications would be felt across the region and it would damage the prosperity of those places we represent.
“With that in mind, the Chambers are taking a nuanced view on the matter and have been actively trying to bring parties together to save DSA. A lot of progress has been made in this regard, and there is heartening solidarity across the business community on this issue, but we urgently need the government to back us up now.
“To be clear, we are not asking the Prime Minister for a handout, but simply for her to show the political will to get involved and to urge Peel back to the negotiating table.”
Martin McKervey, Chairman of the British Chambers of Commerce Northern Regional Assembly and Chairman of the Sheffield Property Association, added: “Based on the vociferous response from our business community, and the way that potential investors have come forward in such a quick space of time, it is clear that there is strong appetite for a thriving airport in South Yorkshire.
“What’s more, if the government is truly serious about its commitment to levelling up the North, then this is an ideal opportunity to prove it. Business leaders are watching closely here to gauge if the Prime Minster can actually be taken at her word and if she is willing to address the regional inequalities that are currently rife across the UK. A failure to act here would be a damning signal that she is not.”
Dan Fell, concluded: “We have already written to the government, and more specifically to Secretary of State for Transport Anne-Marie Trevelyan, once before on this issue. There, we asked a series of reasonable questions about the government’s stance on DSA, but we have yet to receive a response to that letter which was published on 5th October. We are still seeking clarity and hope that this second letter – sent on behalf of 16 Chambers – will help us get answers.
“Finally, it’s important to note that there is truly potential for a win-win scenario for all parties concerned. If a mutually-agreeable outcome is found, it will help Peel – over time – recoup their sunken investment via accelerated growth at Gateway East, while also preserving one of the North’s biggest economic opportunities. Meanwhile. It will also help the government to fulfil its levelling up ambitions and demonstrate to the country that the Prime Minster can be held to their word.”
The letter, signed by the 16 Northern Chambers and the Sheffield Property Association, can be read in full here.