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Business leaders meet Prime Minister Boris Johnson for Back the South West campaign

06th November 2019

Regional business leaders have met with Prime Minister Boris Johnson as part of a campaign to secure more Government investment in the South West.

The Prime Minister’s chief business adviser Andrew Griffith hosted a delegation at 10 Downing Street led by Sarah Heald, director of corporate affairs and investor relations of Viridor’s parent company Pennon, and Western Morning News editor Bill Martin, who co-founded the Back the South West campaign.

The aim is to highlight the region’s need for investment in infrastructure and make the most of opportunities for growth and innovation.

Pennon has firm roots in the South West, with Viridor’s headquarters based in Taunton, Somerset, and sister company South West Water based in Exeter, Devon.

Ms Heald said: “It was a hugely encouraging meeting with the Prime Minister and his chief business advisers.

“Business leaders and LEPs from across the Great South West made the case loud and clear for the Government to back the region.

“We reiterated our priorities – to improve roads, rail and fast broadband, combined with securing the opportunities for people and developing their skills to realise the South West’s full potential.

“Our aim is nothing short of being the UK leader in clean, environmentally sustainable growth.

“We need the Government’s help to improve infrastructure and connectivity – businesses and entrepreneurs in the South West will do the rest.”

The campaign received enthusiastic backing from the Prime Minister, who told the delegation how much the region means to him personally.


Mr Johnson said: “I’ve spent a lot of my time there over the years.

“We want to address some of the infrastructure issues in the region, as well as other vital services.

“Because it is the mission of my Conservative Government to unite and level up the country, and the South West has potential in all sorts of areas – from the spaceport in Newquay to farming, fishing, tourism and technology.

“I want to see improvements to infrastructure and technology, better rail and roads, more schools funding and investment in health services.

“The South West campaign is a great one and your region is an absolute priority to me. So I can assure you that we want to support and champion everything you do.”

Pennon helped launch the #BackTheSouthWest campaign three years ago with the Western Morning News, CBI, LEPs, MPs and other business, local and academic leaders in the wake of the EU referendum.


The campaign has quickly gathered support from businesses of all sizes and sectors from across the South West, helping to define the profile of a region with unique, untapped economic potential.

Mr Martin said: “This was a great opportunity to take the Great South West’s message to the very heart of Government. The meeting was very positive, mainly because of the region’s ability to put forward a united voice and a compelling case for investment and support.

“The three LEPs presented a case for a region that is primed and ready to deliver.

“I am sure whoever is in Government following the election will find the case of the Great South West hard to ignore.”

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