Olympics cast shadow

THE London Olympics in 2012 are already impacting adversely on business in Huntingdonshire, with resources being sucked into the East London site, the district s companies believe. John Bridge, chief executive of Cambridgeshire Chambers of Commerce, said

THE London Olympics in 2012 are already impacting adversely on business in Huntingdonshire, with resources being sucked into the East London site, the district's companies believe.

John Bridge, chief executive of Cambridgeshire Chambers of Commerce, said cash and skills were already being "sucked away and disappearing into that London corridor, which is costing much more money than was originally earmarked for it," he said at a presentation in Huntingdon Town Hall last week.

"We have some real challenges ahead of us. Not enough has been invested in infrastructure as should have been over the years, and money is not being targeted towards the skills that we require locally."

Mr Bridge, dwhose family has been in business in Huntingdonshire since 1958, criticised the use of national targets for investment in skills and business start-ups, when cash should be directed to where it was needed in local economies.


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He added: "Our economists see a big hole appearing in public finances nationally. The débâcle in the health service is going to happen elsewhere," he predicted.

Huntingdon MP, Jonathan Djanogly, also speaking at the presentation of quality accreditation to Godmanchester-based business development managers BlueTree, stressed the importance of small companies to the Huntingdonshire economy.

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"I'm always staggered at how much co-operation there is, not just between businesses but between business organisations, such as the chamber, Huntingdonshire Business Network and the Federation of Small Businesses.

"This is a land of small businesses, with a higher proportion in the local economy than almost anywhere else in the country. They are a huge source of employment and are vital to one of the fastest-growing areas of the country."

He praised BlueTree's achievement of the quality management accreditation, ISO 2000. It involved not only huge commitment in putting systems in place but a reassessment of the relationship between management and employees.

"Those companies that go for it are the ones that are going forward," he added.

Having started life involved in skills training, focusing on making people more effective, BlueTree has moved into taking organisations in directions they themselves have identified.

Director of training Graham Buck explained: "We draw the map, plan the journey and provide the transport. But it's the client's business and we don't tell them where they should be going."

He said the quality accreditation process had been "a great team-building exercise".

"We decided that before we offered advice to other people we should get the experts to look at what we did. They found we were doing quite well anyway, which was reassuring."

Ian Leatherbarrow, who is responsible for economic development at Huntingdonshire District Council, promised that HDC would continue to support enterprise in all areas where it could help it to thrive.

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