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Steve Butler, Kris Hopkins and George Osborne at 11 Downing Street

Ilkley Business Forum Chairman, Steve Butler, was invited last week to visit the Northern Powerhouse Reception by Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne.  The reception, in the State Drawing Room at Number 11 Downing Street, took place on 20 January 2015 and was attended by over 100 business men and women and the MPs who had arranged their invitation.

Kris Hopkins, the MP for Keighley and Ilkley, accompanied Steve Butler, Nathan Goodridge, a director of R McDowell Logistics in Keighley and Pierre Richterich, a well known Ilkley resident and keen proponent of the importance of the North to the UK’s economy.  Mr Osborne spent time ensuring that he spoke individually to everyone in the room before making a short speech.  He stressed that the North of England, with its five large cities, Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, Newcastle and Sheffield, had as large an economy as London and that it was the fastest growing part of the UK economy as a whole.  He pledged to improve transport and scientific research facilities in the North to ensure that we could do even better in future.

“I was surprised to be invited to this prestigious event,” explained Steve Butler “but, when you think about it, Ilkley Business Forum does represent part of the Northern Powerhouse.  Many of our members are leaders in their field.  Look at NG Bailey and Spooners with their nationwide businesses.  Box Tree Events just won the award as the Best Events Team in the Wedding Industry Awards.  Talk Straight has won the Internet Service Providers Association award for Best Business Use of the Cloud for its school broadband brand.  And I could go on because we have many impressive members.  We aim to represent all businesses in LS29 and we can truly boast that we ‘have the ear’ of MPs and government ministers.”

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George Osborne speaks to (L – R), Nathan Goodridge, Steve Butler and Pierre Richterich

Pierre Richterich has been talking to  Kris Hopkins about the need to recognise and develop the vital contribution which is made to the UK economy by the North of England for many years.  As a major player in the Yorkshire textile trade (when a director of P A Richterich International Limited and other companies involved in the Mohair trade) during the latter part of the last century, he has a wealth of experience and Ilkley is lucky to have him as a resident.

Nathan Goodridge is a director in R McDowell Logistics, a large haulage company in Keighley.  The firm has gone from strength to strength since it was founded with only one vehicle in the 1970’s and now has four depots nationwide and over 100 vehicles.  Nathan was able to make some useful contacts at the Reception with firms throughout the North who need the services of firms like his.

“Part of the Northern Powerhouse strategy is to improve all transport links throughout the region.  I was able to stress to Mr Osborne the need to ensure that there was adequate parking for commuters using public transport to avoid places like Ilkley becoming little more than glorified car-parks during the week,” said Mr Butler.

Altogether the Reception, which followed a short trip round the House of Commons guided by Mr Hopkins, was a great success and a feather in Ilkley’s cap.