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Mean on Sunday: don’t disregard experience


Retired business people have a great deal to offer in terms of their vast experience but, in my view, that knowledge is often ignored. 

So, when I was asked to talk to the Upton St Leonards Probus Club last week, that view was very much reinforced by the enthusiasm of their members. 

Probus are local clubs for retired or semi-retired people from all walks of life. They are non-political, non-sectarian and non-profit autonomous clubs. 

The Upton St Leonards Club has members I have met professionally  

through editing newspapers and supporting business in Gloucestershire for over 20 years. 

Many of those members have been directors of companies and held senior positions in our local authorities. 

It got me thinking why weren’t experienced people like these consulted far more by our local district councils and MPs. 

I had previously mentioned the germ of this thinking to Joe Harris, the livewire leader of Cotswold District Council who liked the idea of bringing together retired business people to help shape policy. 

It’s surely an idea that all our six district councils in the county could  benefit from? 

This was not a political meeting but with the views of the two candidates for Prime Minister dominating the air waves my audience unsurprisingly had strong views about the protagonists. 

On a show of hands, Rishi Sunak got their vote. 

I said business was looking for a clear vision and plan from government to encourage and develop productivity and investment. 

So far, I haven’t perceived anything in detail from either candidate. 

I am a fervent supporter of Levelling Up but is it going to survive in the new government? 

I certainly hope so but we are seeing very little so far to point to any realistic government strategy on the policy. 

Some of these Probus members said that MPs need to have a professional qualification in a sector of business or commerce before being elected as a professional politician. 

That would make them more aware of the importance of business to our local economy. 

I came away thinking that these voices of business experience must be heard more often. 

*Ian Mean, MBE is vice chair of GFirstLEP and Business West Gloucestershire director

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