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Suffolk Chamber of Commerce members from Ipswich made good use of an opportunity to listen to and ask questions of a Labour Party shadow minister today (13 March).

Hosted at WTW’s iconic Ipswich offices, Bill Esterson MP, shadow minister for business & industrial strategy, met representatives from leading businesses in the town, including those from the manufacturing, ports & logistics, creative, tech, retail, professional services and education sectors, as well as senior Suffolk Chamber staff and Jack Abbott, Labour Party’s prospective Parliamentary candidate for Ipswich.

Bill Esterson outlined the Labour Party’s asks ahead of the forthcoming Spring Budget, as well as its longer-term proposals for a green industrial revolution and other business-related proposals.

The shadow minister took questions from the gathering on a range of topics including skills shortages, the need for investment in energy transmission, rail freight capacity – including the long called for improvements to Haughley Junction - and EV infrastructure, corporate taxation and business rates, devolution and widening procurement opportunities for SMEs.

The meeting was chaired by Catherine Johnson, Suffolk Chamber’s president who said: “It was very interesting to hear from the Parliamentary frontline as to the Labour Party’s emerging business programme. We appreciated Bill’s willingness to explain his views and to listen to and reflect upon the views of the businesses present.

“In particular, it was good to hear him confirm that the Labour Party has committed itself to a review of the Business Rates system and its alternatives – a signature Suffolk Chamber lobbying demand - should it form the next government.”

John Dugmore, Suffolk Chamber’s chief executive, added: “As a non-party political advocacy organisation representing the views of our members and the wider Ipswich and Suffolk business community, meetings such as this one with Bill Esterson are a key channel by which Suffolk Chamber can further build influence in Westminster and explain the contribution the county town can make to sustainable national economic growth.

“In this regard, our meeting with Bill was mission accomplished and we are now looking forward to directly developing further contacts across the Labour Party’s Parliamentary frontbench.”

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Suffolk Chamber

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