Change Ahead For The District

By Ian Mean, Business West Gloucestershire director & vice chair GFirstLEP

“Change or you will be changed” was a mantra from the former ICI boss, Sir John Harvey-Jones.

Readers of an older vintage like myself will remember he was probably the first business guru to have a TV show shining the light on the workings of companies. Those wise words from the late Sir John resonated with me last week as we celebrated the closing chapter in the life of Gloucestershire’s local enterprise partnership - GFirstLEP - after 12 busy years.

That means change for us all involved in GFirstLEP but closure was a government edict. And while we found it hard to accept initially, the change was inevitable given the government decision.

We must embrace the change, which means that the GFirstLEP teams will now be incorporated into the workings of Gloucestershire County Council at Shire Hall.

But the GFirst board will change with a new Economic Growth Board replacing it. However, this new board will not be chaired by an independent business person as it has been by Ruth Dooley, a senior partner at Hazlewoods the accountants. The chair of the new board will be the chair of the county council, Mark Hawthorne.

Will that political leadership affect the working of the new board made up of business people?

I certainly hope not, and knowing Mark I am sure he will embrace the change fully.

I like the title of the new board. Economic growth for our county is top of the wish list for our companies and their employees.

Growth is the name of the game - nationally with government and locally with the county council and their district council partners. So, one of the key factors in the county’s new economic strategy is that we must align skills and skills training to support jobs that are required. That will be one of the important platforms to increase growth.

If you wish to grow, change is always inevitable but not always easy.