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Ian Mean: pedal power helps grow Gloucestershire’s economy

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By Ian Mean

Business West Gloucestershire director and vice chair GfirstLEP

Attracting visitors to Gloucestershire is so very important  to our business here in the county-particularly in  the hard hit sectors of hospitality and retail.

So, I must congratulate Gloucestershire County Council and South Gloucestershire Council in bringing this year’s Tour of Britain-the UK’s leading cycle race-to the region in September.

The seventh and penultimate stage of this year’s tour will start in Tewkesbury and finish alongside Gloucester Docks on Saturday September 9.

Mark Hawthorne, leader of Gloucestershire County Council, says that events like hosting this stage-following on from the success of the women’s tour coming to the county in 2022-are helping our economy to thrive and showcase Gloucestershire to an international audience.

And with more and more cycleways being developed in the county, the race may well inspire more of us to get on our bikes.

This is a simple idea of creative sponsorship by our councils and we need more of it.

For too long, we have had a plethora of visitor organisations which have often been fragmented and inefficient.

While praising our councils in Gloucestershire for getting behind the county, I cannot be enthusiastic about our government’s attitude to one of our great British companies, Rolls-Royce.

Why? Simply that government has now launched an international competition to select a provider for the new SMRs or Small Modular Reactors.

I am enthusiastic about the  Rolls-Royce involvement in designing this fleet of mini power plants because our two county decommissioned nuclear plants- at Oldbury and Berkeley- could be in line as sites for them.

That’s an exciting prospect for the economy of Gloucestershire and the hundreds of jobs it could bring.

And the government has already sunk something like £200 million into the SMR project already.

So, why are we now inviting rival foreign bids for the project to give us a badly needed boost for our future energy programme?

I agree with the view of Sir John Rose, former chief executive of Rolls-Royce when he describes the government move as “depressing”.

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