Cheshire’s strengths make it ‘all weather’ ahead of Brexit storm

As the Queen signed the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill into law, paving the way for Article 50 to be triggered, Cheshire’s business leaders believe the county is resilient enough to weather any resulting storm.

Civic and business leaders gathered to discuss the issue at MIPIM, the world’s largest property conference held in Cannes, France.

Henry Brooks, executive director of the Tatton Estate and founder of TEM Property, said: “The strength of Cheshire’s economy with global brands, highly skilled workforce, the busiest airport outside the south of the UK and tens of billions of investment means we are uniquely well placed to grow throughout all weather.”

Housebuilder Anwyl Homes has yet to see an impact from Brexit, and is not expecting a significant change, according to director Tom Anwyl.

He said: “We are really not seeing an impact on sales or demand – and are not expecting one. Brexit probably is a big issue if you are based in a financial capital like London but here it’s not top of the list.

“Our concerns are much more around improving rail and road connectivity. We know there is a lot of focus on HS2 but across the region people are more interested in improving links to Liverpool and Manchester.”

Guy Butler, chair of the Chester Growth Partnership, and a director of the property development company Glenbrook, added: “The baseline of the Cheshire economy is formed by the food industry and energy sectors, both of which are resilient to change.

“There are also centres across the region like Chester which are much more international than European. The University of Chester certainly falls into that category and the region as a whole does very well out of UK tourism.”

Sally Pilott, a partner at event host DTM Legal and chair of the Chester Growth Partnership’s infrastructure group, said: “Cheshire as a whole voted to leave the EU so, whatever you think of the outcome of the referendum you can’t really argue that there’s going to be a sudden loss of consumer confidence.

“Being at a major international event like MIPIM only underlines the importance of transport links. It’s fundamental whether you are in Cheshire or China. There’s a great deal of work going into the Growth Track 360 campaign where we are lobbying the Government for investment.

“We are trying to secure £1bn of rail improvements which would deliver 70,000 new jobs over 20 years for the North Wales and Cheshire regional economy. The campaign is being led by a cross-border alliance of business, political and public sector leaders. We are calling for the electrification of the line from Crewe to North Wales so the region can be linked to HS2 and fast London trains can continue to Bangor and Holyhead.”