2017 has been a funny old year. The turbulence within the world of politics, as the UK got to grips with a hung parliament and the decision to leave the EU, and the world coming to grips with a Trump Presidency, has inevitably had a knock- on effect for business, and business confidence.
More positively, the devolution agenda in the Northern Powerhouse and Midlands Engine started to progress, with three metro mayors elected in Birmingham, Liverpool, and Manchester. All three, Andy Street, Steve Rotheram, and Andy Burnham, have made a mark in their short period of time in office, and you can only see the power and influence of these positions growing with time. Another reason why, surely, Lancashire and Yorkshire need to get their devolution act together.
So, what have been the highlights from an eventful twelve months?
Starting with the good, it has been a pleasure to work with the remarkable woman Frances Molloy and the Tyred campaign. Frances lost her son, Michael, to a tragic coach accident five years ago. The inquest found that the cause of the accident, which resulted in the deaths of Michael and two other people, was caused by a blow out of a tyre that was almost twenty years old. Incredibly, there is nothing illegal about this! Frances and Tyred will change that. Visit www.tyred.org.uk join the campaign and help us do it.
The bad must be the shambolic efforts of Theresa May and her government’s Brexit negotiations. Whatever your views on the UK’s EU exit, you cannot have been anything but embarrassed by the lack of clarity, preparedness, and consistency of the British contingents’ performances in Brussels. Triggering Article 50 is up there with her decision to call a snap election to win a bigger majority for the Prime Minister, and we can only hope that the slightly more positive tone during the last round of talks continues into 2018, and we find a way out of an EU conundrum that has turned into a bit of a farce.
As for the ugly, we need look no further than the cowardly terrorists who continue to attack, kill and maim, innocent people. The terrorist attack on Manchester was particularly shocking, with a sickening and targeted attack on an arena that the perpetrators knew would be packed with young people.
The response of the emergency services, the political and civic leadership, and the wider Manchester community, to this horrendous incident, was a credit to a great city.
From Downtown’s perspective, 2017 has been another exciting year, with our growing influence never better demonstrated than through the Transport Summit we hosted in August to put pressure on the government to meet their infrastructure spending commitments for the Northern Powerhouse.
There were over 200 other Downtown events over the course of the year too, and we were able, once again, to engage our members with decision-makers, entrepreneurs, and business leaders from across the UK, through an eclectic range of events.
As we establish the Downtown brand in Glasgow and Warrington/Cheshire in 2018, we very much look forward to meeting new friends in the New Year – and continuing to work with our wonderful membership.
Have a great Christmas, and thanks for supporting the ‘Business Club with Attitude’.