Time to focus on the economy that underpins our society

In just four weeks’ time we will be going to the polls in the General Election with little appetite for even more political posturing in the meantime.

After more than three years of Brexit debate there is a palpable feeling of fatigue among individuals, businesses and communities regarding political and parliamentary procedures.

I don’t want to underplay the importance of Brexit, which is one of the most significant decisions made in recent years. It has led to some economic hesitation and stagnation among businesses due to the uncertainty it has caused which in turn has damaged the economy.

Indeed, Inverness Chamber has increased its staff to help connect support and represent members during this period of uncertainty and advise on future trading opportunities.

However, too much time during the last Parliament was spent on our EU exit and not enough on the economy which underpins our society. For this Election campaign, I want our politicians to avoid being similarly diverted and focus more on projects of significant ambition and scale to support businesses in the essential role of creating employment.

Top of my wish list are two major infrastructure necessities. Firstly, an appropriately robust and adequate broadband and mobile digital network across the Highlands and Islands. I know a great deal of progress has been made on this project recently, but this has still not been fully delivered and it is still pressing.

Secondly, we must increase the provision of housing to support the recruitment and retention of staff throughout the region, particularly in remote and rural areas.  Good quality and affordable housing is a key component in attracting workers and encouraging them to stay in areas where populations can be fragile.

Earlier this month, I spoke at a conference which highlighted the importance of the built environment in Inverness and the Highlands and the legacy we are leaving for future generations.

Physical infrastructure is a vital component of the economy and we need more housing now to help this area grow and realise its potential. But of equal importance to houses and commercial buildings is the digital infrastructure to give us a level playing field and allow us to be competitive in a world increasingly reliant on digital connectivity, particularly when our transport network is also in need of major upgrading.

In the next four weeks I hope our MPs will lift their eyes above the Brexit barrier and pay attention to these crucial issues. They could have a long-term impact on our communities and economy whatever happens next month and beyond.